What supplements can increase the effectiveness of statins?

Leopold D. Galland, MD
Internal Medicine
Some supplements that help statins include:

Phytosterols. Extracted from vegetable oils, phytosterols are similar in structure to cholesterol and interfere with cholesterol absorption from food. At a dose of about 2000 milligrams a day, taken with meals, phytosterols can enhance the cholesterol-lowering effect of statins without increasing statin toxicity.

Berberine. Berberine is a component of several herbs, of which goldenseal is the best known. At a dose of about 800 milligrams a day it can increase the removal of cholesterol from the blood, enhancing the effect of statins. Berberine may also reduce blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes.

Fish oils. The omega-3 fats found in fish oil reduce blood levels of triglycerides, the major type of fat in your body. High triglyceride levels work together with high cholesterol levels to damage blood vessels, and statins have only a small effect on triglycerides. The key omega-3 fats in fish oil are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Taking 4 grams (4000 milligrams) of EPA/DHA per day along with a statin drug is now recommended by many physicians for patients with elevations of both cholesterol and triglycerides.

Arginine. L-arginine is an amino acid (a component of protein) that is naturally found in foods like beans and nuts. When combined with statin, supplements of L-arginine (500 milligrams twice a day) produced significant reduction of triglyceride levels. L-arginine by itself has no effect on triglyceride levels.

Niacin (vitamin B3). High doses of niacin (500 to 1500 milligrams per day) raise blood levels of the "good" cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or HDL-C), which prevents cholesterol from being trapped in the walls of your arteries. Niacin is available as both a supplement and a prescription drug and has been shown to enhance the beneficial effects of statins on blood vessels.

Continue Learning about Dietary Supplements

Dietary Supplements

Whether you're visiting the drug store, grocery or natural food shop you'll likely find an aisle where there are jars and bottles of things for you to put in your body that are neither foods nor medicines. Ranging from vitamins an...

d minerals to fiber and herbal remedies, these supplements are not regulated in the same way as either food or medicine. Some of them are backed by solid research, others are folk remedies or proprietary cures. If your diet does not include enough of certain vitamins or minerals, a supplement may be a good idea. Natural treatment for conditions like constipation may be effective. But because these substances are unregulated, it is always a good idea to educate yourself about the products and to use common sense when taking them. This is even more true if you are pregnant or taking a medicine that may be affected by supplements.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.