One of the more advertised supplements in the last few years is beta – Sitosterol (B-Sitosterol)
These (and the related phytostanols) are naturally occurring compounds found in vegetables, nuts and seeds with varied health benefits: They lower cholesterol, LDLs and serum LDL-C. – This is good? Right? – Yes and effective.
We have also heard claims from Exclusive Reports by Larry King for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and the use of this sterol supplement too. There is limited clinical studies on its overall effectiveness; But B-Sitosterols do lessen nocturia (night urination) and frequency and diminish overall symptomatology of BPH.
These plant sterols also lower cholesterol levels because of their similar structure to cholesterol. They compete in the intestines (the lumen) and the amount of absorption of cholesterol is reduced by competing for absorptive uptake capacity within the bile salts (digestive juices) which break down the cholesterol from food, digest it and move it into the body.
The unabsorbed cholesterol is excreted out of the body.
Decreased absorption goes for the LDL-C, “bad” type cholesterol as well.
This is particularly important in cardio vascular disease (CVD) because in its oxidized form it is toxic and breaks down the artery wall causing plaque formation (atherosclerosis). And atherosclerosis is considered a leading cause of stroke.
These can be found naturally in a wide variety of plants and fruits like cashews and avocados as well as in wheat germ, rice bran, corn oils and soybeans. Get it? – These are all “fatty” type things and truly here, like begets like.
“So doc, why can’t I just eat these foods and get the B-sitosterol benefits from my diet? Because to be effective as with medications as well, a certain amount, dosage, must be taken consistently, each day to have a therapeutic benefit especially with supplements.
The three main phytosterols in most supplements are; beta-sitosterol, campesterol, and stigmasterol. There are many good products that contain all three of these and may contain an additional cardio plus supplement like folic acid. A therapeutic dose is 1k – 2k B-sitosterol per day.
It is generally safe and effective and along with diet and lifestyle change your cholesterol numbers can truly be lowered.
Common side effects of beta-sitosterol supplementation are nausea, indigestion, gas, constipation and/or diarrhea. – Just like you ate too much fiber. This is usually remedied by cutting back on the dose and one should still be able to reap the benefit.