How low is TOO low? The dangers of lowering your cholesterol
A reader named Steve recently wrote in to tell us how much he loved CoQMax. Taking it, along with other health supplements every day, he said, had really improved his cholesterol. He shared that after six months, his levels—particularly LDL—were down significantly.
He went on to say that his excitement turned to concern when he read that if his cholesterol levels got too low it could have detrimental effects on his health. His concern stemmed from a study released a few months ago in the journal Neurology. In it, researchers concluded that extremely low levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) could increase risk of hemorrhagic stroke.
More on that later… but I will admit, the topic of cholesterol is confusing. No wonder Steve is worried. For decades, cholesterol was considered one of the top cardiovascular villains—and efforts were taken by doctors and cardiologists across the country to aggressively reduce LDL (otherwise known as “bad cholesterol”) in patients.
But now, research is starting to reveal that cholesterol isn’t quite the bad guy the medical community has made it out to be. And, with this latest research, it looks like going too low could create a whole new set of problems. So, here’s what you need to know.
Researchers performed a prospective cohort study among 27,937 women enrolled in the Women’s Health Study. (A prospective cohort study follows groups of people who are alike in many ways but differ by one characteristic.)
The researchers looked at the participants’ total cholesterol, LDL, high density lipoprotein (HDL, otherwise known as “good cholesterol”), and triglycerides. During 19 years of follow-up, 137 hemorrhagic strokes occurred. Compared with those people whose LDL levels were 100–129.9 mg/dl, those with levels below 70 mg/dl had more than twice the risk of suffering this type of stroke. Interestingly, no significant increase in risk was observed for women whose levels were higher (130–159.9 mg/dl) or in the normal range (70–99.9 mg/dl).1
This result is definitely alarming. However, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First, ischemic strokes, which occur when a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain is blocked or clogged, are far more common, accounting for 87 percent of all strokes. (And it should be noted, low cholesterol actually helps to prevent this type of stroke.) Hemorrhagic strokes—what the study participants experienced—are less prevalent, accounting for only 15 percent of strokes. They happen when a weakened blood vessel ruptures, causing bleeding in the brain.
Furthermore, look at the stats: 137 strokes suffered among a total of nearly 28,000 women. That comes out to a half percent of the population…over a 20-year period. When you look at it that way, it’s a lot less concerning.
Second, only women were followed. It’s hard to know if these same results translate to men. And finally, the study did not look at the effects of cholesterol-lowering therapies on stroke risk. Were the women who suffered strokes on statin drugs? Were those drugs lowering their levels too much? These are all important considerations that weren’t accounted for.
So, I think the main takeaway from this study is that cholesterol levels that veer too far in either direction—whether they’re far too high or far too low—can be problematic and increase risk of various health issues. The goal should be to keep levels as close to the normal range as possible.
Supplements that Lower Cholesterol Levels
If your cholesterol is on the high side, getting it down to normal range doesn’t have to be difficult—and you can do it without taking statins. In fact, if high cholesterol is your one and only heart risk factor, you should definitely try natural methods first before turning to statins.
Some of the best nutrients for cholesterol support are citrus bergamot and coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10).
CoQ10 is an important antioxidant that fuels energy production in your cells’ mitochondria—which are responsible for up to 90 percent of the energy your cells need to stay alive.
CoQ10 sparks the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the substance your body uses for energy. Of all the organs in your body, your heart relies on CoQ10 the most due to the extraordinary amount of energy it uses. This makes sense considering your heart is always beating and working hard to keep you alive. So, the higher the CoQ10 in your body, the more ATP the body can produce to fuel your heart.
CoQ10 has been studied extensively for many heart-related issues. Studies have shown that it helps to lower LDL cholesterol, improve HDL cholesterol, reduce the risk of heart disease and heart attack, and protect the heart during a heart attack.
In one study, 150 mg of CoQ10 was given to 53 men every day for two weeks. It led to a significant 12.7 percent decrease in LDL.2
The typical therapeutic dose of CoQ10 (as ubiquinol) can be as high as 300 mg daily, taken in divided doses.
Newport Natural Health offers an outstanding CoQ10 supplement CoQMax that doesn’t just offer 100mg of CoQ10, but it uses a form called HydroQSorb®.
HydroQSorb® has been shown to be 300% more absorbable than ordinary CoQ10… which means that 100mg of HydroQSorb® is like taking 300mg of regular CoQ10. And you’ll also get 500mg of Cavacurmin, a powerful form of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory curcumin shown to be up to 40X more absorbable than ordinary curcumin. You can learn more about CoQMax here.
Citrus bergamot is what gives Earl Grey tea its distinctive flavoring. It has been shown in many studies to reduce cholesterol levels.
In one such study, 77 patients took 1,000 mg daily for one month. Cholesterol dropped from an average of 278 mg/dl to 191.3
That’s a 31% decrease in just 30 days!
In another study that looked at bergamot’s effects on rats and 237 patients, supplementation for 30 days reduced total and LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and even blood glucose.4
A good therapeutic dosage of bergamot is 500 mg daily. And you can get a proprietary, standardized form of bergamot, called Bergavit®, in Newport Natural Health’s Cholesterol Solution. You can learn more about Cholesterol Solution here.
If You Have Very Low Cholesterol
If you have extremely low LDL and are concerned about your risk for hemorrhagic stroke, talk to your doctor. He/she will probably want to look at your other risk factors for hemorrhagic stroke, including hypertension, smoking, and blood vessel abnormalities. Being proactive about your health and reducing these and other risk factors can lessen your chances even more.
- Rist PM, et al. Lipid levels and the risk of hemorrhagic stroke among women. Neurology. 2019 May 7;92(19):e2286-e2294. Last accessed October 16, 2019.
- Schmelzer C, et al. Ubiquinol-induced gene expression signatures are translated into altered parameters of erythropoiesis and reduced low density lipoprotein cholesterol levels in humans. IUBMB Life. 2011 Jan;63(1):42-8. Last accessed October 17, 2019.
- Gliozzi M, et al. Bergamot polyphenolic fraction enhances rosuvastatin-induced effect on LDL-cholesterol, LOX-1 expression and protein kinase B phosphorylation in patients with hyperlipidemia. Int J Cardiol. 2013 Dec 10;170(2):140-5. Last accessed October 17, 2019.
- Mollace V, et al. Hypolipemic and hypoglycaemic activity of bergamot polyphenols: from animal models to human studies. Fitoterapia. 2011 Apr;82(3):309-16. Last accessed October 17, 2019.
Disclaimer: Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
Last Updated: September 19, 2020
Originally Published: October 24, 2019