If a trip to the doctor should reveal that our triglycerides are too high, what does that mean? What exactly are triglycerides and why are they important? Triglycerides are molecules composed of a glycerol (the backbone of the triglyceride) with three fatty acids attached. They provide a convenient way for the body to shuttle fat around in the
blood and they are used for fat storage. Triglycerides are a good thing—the body does not make things that are bad. That would not be consistent with life.
Only in excess are triglycerides a problem. The reason for elevated triglyceride levels must be determined. It is not a deficiency of any drug. It may be caused by diet, nutritional deficiencies or some bad habits such as too much alcohol, sugar, fats or excessive red meat. There are also some drugs like beta-blockers used for hypertension that can lower HDL (good cholesterol) and increase triglycerides. It is important to check insulin levels, because high levels will increase triglycerides.
Niacin, as a nutrient, not only lowers triglycerides, but also raises HDL and safely decreases total cholesterol. In one study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, niacin raised HDL by 29 percent and lowered triglycerides by 28 percent.
Another important nutrient is vitamin E. It must come from a natural source and not a synthetic one (the synthetic form is derived from petroleum products). Natural vitamin E contains both tocopherols and tocotrienols. In a study done on 90 humans, 100 mg a day of tocotrienols lowered cholesterol by 20 percent and triglycerides by 12 percent. Carlson’s E-gems Elite is a natural source that combines both tocopherols and tocotrienols.
Magnesium is an important mineral, not only for cholesterol and triglycerides, but for the heart, muscles and nervous system. Phosphotidyl choline is equally important in lowering triglycerides. These are just a few examples of ways to lower triglycerides without resorting to drugs. We should all research all our options and be aware that our physician may not have been taught about nutrition and supplements in medical school. It is up to us to learn more about our options so we can then make truly informed choices to reclaim our health.
Karen Asbury, M.D., specializes in functional (integrative) medicine, in Plano. For more info, call 972-867-7790 or visit KarenAsburyMD.com.