Supplements and Cholesterol

Do supplements that claim to lower your cholesterol really work?

Q: There are so many reports about cholesterol-lowering supplements, especially policosanol. How can I tell what is effective and what isn’t?

A: You’re right — it seems that every time you open a magazine there’s a story about another miracle supplement. Policosanol, a sugarcane extract, is just one of the many that have been touted as a way to reduce cholesterol. However, a rigorous 2006 study showed that even 80 mg of high-quality policosanol per day didn’t have any effect on cholesterol.

This particular supplement didn’t pan out, but every once and awhile something interesting and effective comes along. My advice is to read everything you can about lowering your cholesterol, and if you see something interesting in the supplement arena, make a copy and take it to your doctor. It can’t hurt to ask a professional, and most doctors are happy when their patients are proactive about improving their health.

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