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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Krill Oil & Cholesterol

I'm 34 years old and in Dec 2006, my doctor told me my cholesterol was high. I wouldn't have known this if I didn't go in to have an irregular heartbeat checked out.  I wouldn't have known THAT if my OBGYN didn't notice it during a regular annual exam. I had bloodwork done for the heart murmur which wasn't fasted so we checked it again a couple of times.  But even then, test results confirmed:

Total: 231 | 248 | 259
LDL: 23.9 | 37 | 24
HDL: 47 | 51 | 50

I'm on the skinny side but it's hereditary for me, apparently.  I don't exactly exercise a lot but I'm also not exactly inactive.  I don't eat poorly.  So there wasn't much else I could do as far as typical lifestyle changes to counter it.  He recommended I take Crestor.  And so I did.  I went ahead and took it, up until August of this year, that is.  I had finally read enough about it and decided it just isn't for me.  Yes, it has kept down the number they were reporting on:

Total: 139 | 140 | 154 | 170
LDL: 74 | 73 | 84 | 102
HDL: 52 | 52 | 52 | 51

But now they say that this all-mighty Total cholesterol # is not even the factor in heart disease. As you can see, my LDL wasn't very high to begin with.  According to NHLBI , LDL is the bad cholesterol that is the main source of cholesterol buildup and blockage in arteries.  Less than 100 mg/dL is considered optimal for the LDL cholesterol level.  I was far from that. It's the high Total cholesterol that concerned him.  I am sure that there's a better way to lower it than with those pills. I'm not worrying over the medication's side effects that they tell you about.  It's the things they don't tell you that are of concern.  Just look at my LDLs in the second, more recent set of #s: it's even higher after being on the medication!  It's actually over the optimal level now!  Sowhat if the total cholesterol is down low!?  Clearly, this isn't working out for the benefit of my long-term health.

I knew, from reading, that taking a statin would starve the heart of CQ10 - which can be supplemented, but I could see where this would get expensive and fast. (Coenzyme Q10 and Statins) I knew I had to find a different solution. I hate taking chemicals on a daily basis because they're not natural to the body and surely have side effects we don't even know about. I'm in this life for the long haul, so I want to do the best I can, reasonably, to see to that goal. (i.e., I'd buy all organic foods, if I could afford it...)

I saw the doctor's practicioner next time I went in so I talked to her about all this, and she recommended I drop the pill and take fish oil.  Well, I had been taking it but had to quit due to the unpleasant burping of fish oil.  I tried cod liver oil caplets which didn't have this, but she said they are not so beneficial like others. She said they could give me a sample of Lovaza which is essentially a prescription-strength fish oil that is super purified.  Great, I said!  Let me try that.  It seemed fine and great and I went through nearly the whole bottle but had to stop that too.  Turns out it wreaks havoc upon my digestive system.  Ugh.  So I'm back on the market for new information.

I have been following the studies of Dr. Mercola, and from him learned of the benefits of..... krill oil!  Not only is it better than regular fish oil, there is also no unpleasant aftertaste.  While it's more expensive than fish oil, it's also going to cost me less than the Lovaza after my insurance co-pay ($33.29), or about the same.

A snippet from Mercola :
HDL percentage is a far more potent indicator for heart disease risk. Here are the two ratios you should pay attention to:

   1. HDL/Total Cholesterol Ratio: Should ideally be above 24 percent. If below 10 percent, you have a significantly elevated risk for heart disease.
   2. Triglyceride/HDL Ratio: Should be below 2.

I have seen a number of people with total cholesterol levels over 250 who were actually at low risk for heart disease due to their elevated HDL levels. Conversely, I have seen many people with cholesterol levels under 200 who had a very high risk of heart disease, based on their low HDL.

Your body NEEDS cholesterol—it is important in the production of cell membranes, hormones, vitamin D and bile acids that help you to digest fat. Cholesterol also helps your brain form memories and is vital to your neurological function.
There is also strong evidence that having too little cholesterol INCREASES your risk for cancer, memory loss, Parkinson's disease, hormonal imbalances, stroke, depression, suicide, and violent behavior.

Here is a summary excerpted from an excellent source, which I couldn't have said better myself:

Neptune Technologies is the Canadian company that holds the patent for krill oil extraction.  Krill oil, like fish oil, contains both of the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA, but krill oil's structure makes it much more absorbable than fish oil.

Krill oil contains vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin D and canthaxanthin, a potent anti-oxidant. The anti-oxidant potency of krill oil is 48 times more potent than fish oil.

The astaxanthin found in krill oil provides excellent protection against ultravoilet light and UV-induced skin damage.

A number of studies have shown that krill oil is tremendously effective in reducing LDL-cholesterol, raising HDL-cholesterol, and lowering blood sugar. It has been shown to be effective in treating the pain and inflammation from rheumatoid arthritis and aches and pains in general. One large study showed that krill oil has tremendous benefits in terms of symptom reduction in PMS and dysmenorrhea. And it has been shown to be effective in the treatment of adult ADHD. In all these studies krill oil was tested against fish oil and not simply a placebo.

Due to the rapid absorption of krill oil and the high anti-oxidant content there is virtually never the fishy burping and aftertaste sometimes experienced with fish oil. And there are no other side effects to speak of.

The only downside is that it is a little more pricey than fish oil, but you get what you pay for.

Virtually all krill oil is produced by Neptune Technologies and shipped to the various supplement manufacturers, so any krill oil you get will have come from the same place and be the same dosage. The only unknown is how long it has been sitting around in a warehouse somewhere, which is, of course, the same unkown with fish oil. At least with krill oil, thanks to the high anti-oxidant content, the shelf life is much longer.

Also from Mercola :

Optimizing Your Cholesterol Levels, Naturally

There's really no reason to take statins and suffer the damaging health effects from these dangerous drugs.
The fact is that 75 percent of your cholesterol is produced by your liver, which is influenced by your insulin levels. Therefore, if you optimize your insulin level, you will automatically optimize your cholesterol.
It follows, then, that my primary recommendations for safely regulating your cholesterol have to do with modifying your diet and lifestyle:
  • Reduce, with the plan of eliminating, grains and sugars in your diet. Eat the right foods for your nutritional type , and consume a good portion of your food raw
  • Make sure you are getting plenty of high quality, animal-based omega 3 fats , such as krill oil.
  • Other heart-healthy foods include olive oil, coconut and coconut oil, organic raw dairy products and eggs, avocados, raw nuts and seeds, and organic grass-fed meats as appropriate for your nutritional type.
  • Exercise daily. Make sure you incorporate peak fitness exercises, which also optimizes your human growth hormone (HGH) production.
  • Address your emotional challenges . My favorite technique for stress management is the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).
  • Avoid smoking or drinking alcohol excessively.
  • Be sure to get plenty of good, restorative sleep .
Unlike statin drugs, which lower your cholesterol at the expense of your health, these lifestyle strategies represent a holistic approach that will benefit your overall health—which includes a healthy cardiovascular system.