Statins and common nutrient depletions

The role of statins

Statins work to lower the production of low-density lipoproteins (LDL), or "bad" cholesterol, by blocking an enzyme in the liver that helps make cholesterol. High LDL levels can create plaque buildup in the arteries, which can block blood flow, and raise your risk of a heart attack or stroke.

But the benefits of statins go beyond just lowering LDL cholesterol. Statins have anti-inflammatory properties, and inflammation is a known contributor to plaque buildup. Also, statins help prevent plaques from breaking open and releasing chemicals that stimulate blood clot formation, which is the cause of most heart attacks.

Who needs statins? Anyone who has coronary artery disease or other arterial disease caused by plaque buildup should be on a statin, even if the person has a normal cholesterol profile. Statins also can benefit otherwise healthy people with elevated LDL cholesterol levels of 160 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or higher, and those with a 10-year risk of cardiovascular disease at 7.5% or higher. (You assess your estimated 10-year risk at: /ascvd.)

Even people with a lower LDL cholesterol level — for example, 100 mg/dL — should consider taking a statin if they have other risk factors, such as diabetes, a family history of heart disease before age 55, smoking, or high blood pressure.

If the only thing statins did was prevent cholesterol build up in the arteries they would be great, but they also deplete a few things the body really needs.

Beyond lowering Cholesterol

Some of the key nutrients that can be affected by statin use include:

  1. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10): Statins can reduce the levels of CoQ10, an enzyme essential for energy production in cells. CoQ10 supplementation is often recommended to mitigate the potential side effects of muscle pain or weakness associated with statins. Watch the video below to learn more about CO Q10
  2. Vitamin D: Statin use has been linked to lower levels of vitamin D in the body. Vitamin D is crucial for bone health, immune function, and overall well-being.
  3. Vitamin K2: Statins may interfere with the absorption of vitamin K2, which is important for bone and cardiovascular health.
  4. Selenium: Some studies suggest that statins could lower selenium levels in the body. Selenium is an essential mineral with antioxidant properties.

What about sex hormones? 

Low cholesterol levels can potentially affect sex hormones in the body. Cholesterol is a precursor for the synthesis of various hormones, including sex hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. When cholesterol levels are very low, it can impact the body's ability to produce an adequate amount of these hormones. Here's how:

  1. Estrogen and Progesterone: In women, low cholesterol levels may lead to reduced production of estrogen and progesterone, which can affect the menstrual cycle and fertility. It may result in irregular periods or, in severe cases, amenorrhea (absence of menstruation).
  2. Testosterone: In both men and women, low cholesterol levels may lead to reduced testosterone production. This can result in a decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction in men, and other sexual health issues.

It's important to note that cholesterol levels that are too low are relatively rare and usually associated with specific medical conditions or medications. Maintaining a healthy balance of cholesterol is essential for overall health, including the proper functioning of the endocrine system and sex hormone production. If you have concerns about your cholesterol levels and their impact on your health, consult with our pharmacists for guidance and appropriate interventions.

It's important for individuals taking statins to be aware of these potential depletions and consult with their healthcare provider about any necessary supplements or dietary adjustments to maintain their overall health and well-being.

At Webster Pharmacy our pharmacist can discuss your need for testing and replacing these vital nutrients depleted by statins. If you would rather shop our online dispensary click here.