Category Archives: Supplements

Fish Oil and Heart Disease – Beware


Pick up a bottle of Omega 3 fish oil and you will read that it supports heart health, and may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.  What it does not tell you is that it can elevate your low density lipoprotein or LDL, which is referred to as the bad cholesterol.  What is does improve is your triglyceride.  To better understand this let’s look at both fats.

Cholesterol is  waxy, odorless lipid (fat) made by the liver that is an essential part of cell walls and nerves.  It also plays an important role in body functions such as digestion, and hormone production.  In addition to being produced by the body, cholesterol comes from animal foods that we eat to include meat, poultry, eggs, fish, and diary products.  Eating too much saturated fat therefore increases cholesterol.  The guideline for total cholesterol level in healthy adults is less than 200mg/dl.

Triglyceride is a fatty substance referred to as a lipid.  It is the fat that is carried in the blood from the food we eat.  Most of the fats we eat, including butter, margarine and oils, are in triglyceride form.  Excess calories, alcohol or sugar in the body are converted into triglycerides and stored in fat cells throughout the body.  The liver packages cholesterol with triglycerides and proteins as lipoproteins and transports it to sites throughout the body .  An elevated triglyceride level increases the risk of heart disease.  The guideline for a normal triglyceride level in healthy adults is less than 150 mg/dl.

The American Heart Association (AHA) does not recommend drug treatment to reach a normal triglyceride level.  Instead, for those trying to lower their triglycerides, lifestyle changes such as diet, weight loss and physical activity are encouraged.  That’s because triglycerides usually respond well to dietary and lifestyle changes.  The AHA recommends Heart-healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats found in oily fish as well as in flax seeds, walnuts and omega-3 eggs.  For those who need to lower their triglycerides the physician may order omega 3 capsules.  One should not take more than 4gms per day without a physicians care since it can increase the LDL

If you are taking omega 3 capsules for a healthy heart know what your heart status is.  If you have family history or told you have elevated triglyceride then omega 3 is right for you. On the other hand, if you have elevated cholesterol stop the fish oil and focus on other dietary measures.  Increase your soluble fiber since it forms a gel which binds some cholesterol in the small intestine and takes it out of the body.  The next time you are at the vitamin cottage ask about plant sterols.  It is a plant compound with chemical structures similar to that of cholesterol.  Interestingly because phytosterols so closely resemble cholesterol they can actually block food-based cholesterol from being absorbed into the blood stream.  The result is both phytosterols and dietary cholesterol end up excreted in waste matter.  Taking 0.8gms twice a day will decrease both LDL and total cholesterol. Your best options is to select foods with plant sterols added such as in orange juice and vegetable oil spreads,  otherwise to get 0.8gm naturally would require an excessive intake of  food items such as 12 cups of broccoli, 70 carrots or 26 oranges.

Written by Joanne Slyter, MBA, RD Westminster, CO



Vit D3 is the New Vit D

From the newsletter of the Vitamin D Council:
Vit D has been taking center stage over the past few years with the discoveries of its positive affects on the elderly maintaining balance to reported lower stress fracture risk among adolescents involved in high-impact activity.

Vitamin D, known as the “sunshine vitamin” is found in a limited number of foods such as fatty fish, fish oils and egg yolk and is added to milk and margarine.  Some yogurt and yogurt-based beverages may also be fortified with vitamin D, however, other dairy products including cheese, ice cream, ice milk and frozen yogurt are not fortified foods.  It can also be produced naturally by the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight.  While it is possible for a healthy person under the age of 50 to get the currently recommended amounts of vitamin D from the diet, it is more difficult for someone over 50 years of age to meet their recommendations.

For those found to be deficient in Vitamin D many doctors prescribe it, with instructions to take one capsule every week, or every two weeks, or even one capsule per month. Up until the last few years, only one vitamin D2 , which is less potent and effective, has been available for prescription.   Vitamin D3 has now come on board and is available by prescription!

Bio-Tech Pharmacal has partnered with distributors to make 50,000 IU D3 available for thousands of US drug stores. Unless your doctor writes “Drisdol, do not substitute,” your pharmacist can give you human vitamin D, not plant vitamin D.

If you’re a medical professional, contact your local pharmacy to request they stock the product. If you’re a pharmacist, order the product and begin substituting Drisdol prescriptions now. If you’re a patient, tell your pharmacy today and make sure you start taking D3, not D2. The list of distributors and the information they need to know, is below.

The reasons to switch are as follow:

  • Vitamin D3 is the type of vitamin D the human body produces in response to sun exposure. Vitamin D2 supplements are produced by irradiating fungus.
  • Research has shown that the body prefers vitamin D3 over D2 when both forms are readily available in the body (Heaney 2011)
  • Research has shown that vitamin D3 is more efficacious in reducing mortality risk than D2 (Bjelakovic 2011). Research has also shown than vitamin D3 is more efficacious in reducing the risk of fractures and falls than D2 (Bischoff-Ferrari 2009).

I recommend if 50,000 IU is going to be prescribed, have it noted to   take weekly, which equates to 7,000 IU/day. Once every two weeks might do the trick (equivalent to 3,500 IU/day). Once a month is not enough  (equivalent to 1670 IU/day).

The list of distributors are as follow:

Bio-Tech D-3-50 (50,000IU)
NDC# 53191036201
Domestic Distributors

McKesson Drug Company
Cardinal Health
Emerson Ecologics
Dakota Drug
HD Smith Wholesale Drug Company
Gulf South Medical Supply
Smith Drug Company
National Drug Source

Signature  Joanne Slyter, dietitian Westminster, CO