Summary: Cholest Off® and Cholest Off Complete® are two patented cholesterol lowering products from Nature Made. At the end of the day both products appear to be safe and effective. However, remember that the ingredients you’re getting in these products are the same ones you’d be getting if you ate a natural, no-processed foods diet.
Dear Curtis: I have high cholesterol and already take simvastatin 40 mg every day. I was looking for something more natural when I was in the supermarket the other day and came across Cholest Off® by Nature Made. I don’t know anything about it and the pharmacist there didn’t seem to know much either. What do you think? Will it help me or is it some kind of scam?
But, first things first. While cholesterol has been villainized in the last 30 years I don’t totally buy the cholesterol is bad at all costs theory. In fact, when you look at how cholesterol is used in and by your body – it’s critical to everyday function as well as being used to synthesize a number of things in your body – especially hormones. In fact, compared to when I learned about the “Cholesterol Theory” in school I now believe that the medical community in general tries to get cholesterol too low. And it may actually be harmful to do that.
But, that’s obviously something to ask your doctor about.
Now, as far as how Cholest Off® works (and if it actually does work) let’s look at what’s actually in it and how it works in your body.
How Cholest Off® Works
The regular Cholest Off® that you were probably looking at contains compounds called phytosterols and phytostanols. Essentially, they’re plant-based compounds that have been shown to reduce your cholesterol blood levels. In particular – your “bad” or LDL cholesterol. How much your cholesterol levels are lowered isn’t very clear. At least from the research I did. One review showed a possible 10% reduction in LDL levels with phytosterols at a maximum effective dose of 2g (2000mg) a day.
Phytosterols get into your blood stream and, because they look so much like a cholesterol molecule, end up slowing or inhibiting the absorption of cholesterol from your food or your liver in your blood stream.
Both product contain plant phytosterols and stenols. But, Cholest Off Complete® adds in an ingredient called Pantesin® which is pantethine – a derivative of vitamin B5. The pantethine is the part of the product that works on decreasing how much cholesterol is produced in your liver. This is the “genetic” part of the claim on the front of the bottle.
CholestOff® Side Effects
Actually, I was pleasantly surprised by some of the feedback I got online from patients who have taken either of the products – it appears to be pretty well tolerated. With the most notable side effects actually being complaints about the size of the pill and having to follow a more complicated dosing regimen.
I expected to hear some nastier side effects because other drugs I’ve encountered before that inhibit any sort of fat absorption in the stomach and gastrointestinal tract can result in loose stools and (I’m not kidding on this one) oily discharge. But again, these products got good reviews there so I can only go off what other users have said.
Does It Work and Is It Worth the Money?
At the end of the day all you really want to know is does this stuff work and is it worth it. In my opinion, CholestOff® might be worth a shot. In your particular case there doesn’t appear to be any drug interactions so, if after talking to your doctor and getting the OK, it would probably be safe to add onto your simvastatin. Or, you may even want to discuss a trial with the Cholest Off® alone just to see how you do and if your cholesterol isn’t too high already.
As far as value goes, that’s subjective. Most of the prices I’ve seen quoted for Cholestoff Complete® fall into the $30-$40 a month range. For regular CholestOff® you’re looking at around $10 a month. Not bad – depending on what your frame of reference is. I’m sure you’re aren’t paying all that much for your simvastatin (or, at least you shouldn’t be) so going to Cholest Off Complete® will definitely raise your costs. But, in my opinion, it’s probably better tolerated than simvastatin (or any of the statins).
I have to admit – before I started researching these products I didn’t have that high of hopes. They kind of reeked of “gimmick” to me so I went in somewhat skeptical. But, if your only option is to take something – either supplement or medication – to lower your cholesterol you could certainly do worse than these products.
However, let me say something that I don’t see mentioned a lot in any of the literature. The products in CholestOff® regular and complete are natural products which are found in abundance in the type of eating program I follow and that I recommend. This probably explains why my triglycerides fell so drastically after being high a few years ago. In short, I have a family history of high cholesterol – but once I changed how I ate my numbers plummeted (at my last blood test my triglycerides were 33).
In most cases you don’t need something like Cholest Off® if you are eating right because you’ll be naturally getting the ingredients that are already in the product itself.
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