20 May 2011

Cholesterol: Vitamins, Minerals & Supplements


 Cholesterol is a naturally created substance in your body that is necessary for many chemical processes related to nerve and hormone functions, but can be extremely harmful in excess. Cholesterol can lead to plaque-filled arteries, which impedes blood flow to your brain, kidneys, genitals and heart.
Should you take vitamins, minerals, herbs and supplements to lower your cholesterol? This question has been debated for years in medical circles whether or not these products really make a difference in your health.
What we do know is that there is no substitute for a low-cholesterol diet, one low in fat, especially bad fats, and one rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds and nuts. Diet, combined with exercise, will probably give you your best results in lowering your cholesterol, but the addition of vitamins, minerals, herbs and supplements can’t hurt your cause. I would consult your medical expert regarding these products, but if you want to wing it and go on an adventure, Whole Foods or any health food store have knowledgeable people to explain these products in detail, and their possible side-effects.

Vitamins
Vitamins are essential nutrients required for normal chemical process to occur in the body. They serve as essential components in enzymes and coenzymes. Enzymes are molecules in speeding up chemical reactions necessary for human bodily functions such as energy production or the assembling of tissue components. Vitamins are good for everyone, but they should be used in concert with – not in lieu of - a balanced diet and exercise. For high cholesterol, I recommend the following vitamins: B-complex, B6, B3 or niacin – do not exceed 300 mg daily, B12, vitamin C flavonoids, E flavonoids, choline, folic acid, inositol, pangamic acid

Mineral
The human body utilizes minerals for the proper composition of bone and blood and the maintenance of normal cell function. Minerals function along with vitamins as essential components in enzymes and coenzymes. If an enzyme is lacking the necessary mineral, it cannot function properly, no matter how much of the vitamin is available. Minerals are good for everyone, but they should be used in concert with – not in lieu of - a balanced diet, exercise and vitamins. For high cholesterol, I recommend the following minerals: calcium, iron, silicon, copper, magnesium, iodine, phosphorus, zinc, potassium, maganese, nitrogen, fluorine, sulfur

Herbs
A herb is a plant that does not have a woody stem. If a plant has a woody stem, it is referred to as a shrub, bush, or tree. The term “herb” is used to describe a plant that is used for medicinal purposes. A majority of people believe that herbs are generally thought of as ineffective medicines. Others like me believe that herbs and plant extracts are natural effective medicines to be used and appreciated. Most traditional medicines are derived from plants and trees. If you decide to use herbs instead of, or in conjunction with, conventional medicines, choose your practitioner carefully. Herbalists must know their herbs, but they also must know when to tell patients to seek conventional care. Herbs are good for everyone, but they should be used in concert with – not in lieu of - a balanced diet, exercise, minerals, and vitamins. I love cooking with herbs. If you have high cholesterol, I recommend using the following herbs: dandelion root, goldenseal/myrrh extract, hawthorn berry, cayenne, ginger, garlic, sassafras, burdock, chapparal, echinacea, red clover, oat straw.

Supplements
Supplements used to include only vitamins, minerals, herbs, brewer’s yeast and sea salt. Now, there are dozens of supplements that include protein powders, amino acid formulas, carotenoids, bioflavonoids, digestive aids, fatty acid formulas, special fats, lecithin and phospholipids, probiotics, products derived from animal and fish parts, algae, garlic and ginger products, and human metabolites such as coenzyme Q. Most supplements contain a blend of these items, resulting in countless choices at your supermarket. Over the years, I have learned that labeling and advertising claims go way beyond the truth and current available knowledge. There are few studies, and most of these supplements are “claim” driven. Be careful with the supplements you take. For high cholesterol, I would recommend: omega-3 oil or flaxseed oil, apple pectin, chromium picolinate, coenzyme Q10, fiber – I like oat bran, lecithin and selenium and ginseng.

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