Natural alternatives to statin drugs available As are iron supplements without constipation

column-Healthy-AnswrQ: I’m trying to avoid taking Lipitor since I know so many people who have experienced side effects. Is there anything natural that would work in a similar way to lower cholesterol?

A: Sometimes prescriptions are necessary, but it’s always a good idea to see if you can help yourself naturally first. Lipitor is a cholesterol lowering medication known as a statin, and there does exist a supplement which is known as a “natural statin” – red yeast rice. Red yeast rice comes in capsule or tablet form and works very well for lowering cholesterol. The specific brand that I would recommend is by a company called Nature’s Plus, since they have a red yeast rice that is in an extended release formula, which means that it’s absorbed in the body over a period of hours instead of all at once.

Like prescription statins, red yeast rice should be taken at night before bedtime, since that’s when the body produces the most cholesterol.

If you’re taking prescription statins or red yeast rice, it would be a good idea to supplement with the vitamin CoQ10 as well. CoQ10 helps to protect the heart and gives the cells the energy they need to function efficiently. Statins like Lipitor (as well as red yeast rice, since it works like a natural statin) can deplete the body’s stores and production of CoQ10, which can result in muscle pain, one of the most common side effects of statin medications.

Q: At my last blood test my doctor said I had low iron levels. She gave me a prescription for iron supplements, but they made me feel horribly sick and constipated. I don’t really know what to do since I know that’s why I’m feeling tired, but the side effects of the iron the doctor gave me are just too terrible for me to handle. Is there anything natural that could help without giving me constipation?

A: Iron deficiency can absolutely cause fatigue, as well as dizziness, cold hands and feet, pale skin, headaches and more. It’s important to correct iron deficiency, though many iron supplements are notorious for causing constipation and stomach upset, something no one wants to deal with.

Thankfully there are natural, plant based iron supplements which can help. Plant based iron supplements, like Solgar’s Gentle Iron, will not cause constipation or stomach issues and can help to bring iron levels back in to the normal range. I’ve personally taken Solgar’s Gentle Iron capsules when I was diagnosed with low iron levels and at my next blood test it was back in the target range, and I never had any stomach issues from taking it.

Iron supplements are best taken with vitamin C, like a glass of orange juice, to enhance absorption. There are some foods that inhibit iron absorption – dairy products, eggs, spinach, coffee, kale, and nuts to name a few; those foods should not be consumed for a few hours apart from iron supplements for optimal iron absorption. It would also be a good idea to be consciously add more iron containing foods to your diet – beans, dried fruit, brown rice, liver, and red meat.

Undiagnosed iron deficiency is incredibly common in the US. It has been estimated that up to 20 percent of all pre-menopausal women have iron deficiency anemia, and that one third of people over age 75 are anemic as well. Thankfully, low iron levels are treatable, and there are natural, plant-based supplements, which can bring your iron levels back to normal without constipation or stomach upset.


Check out our new website at passhealthfoods.com for an archive
of all my past articles in a searchable health index!


Healthy Answers for Life is a column that seeks to answer health questions and concerns from a natural perspective. To submit a question to be answered in a future column send an email to [email protected] or mail to Healthy Answers for Life c/o Pass Health Foods at 7228 W. College Drive, Palos Heights, IL 60463

Carolyn Johnson is one of the knowledgeable associates at Pass Health Foods at 7228 W. College Drive. Feel free to stop by the store for more information or advice. www.passhealthfoods.com

This column makes no claims to diagnose, treat, prevent, mitigate, or cure diseases with any advice or products. Any health related information in this article is for educational purposes only. The ultimate responsibility for your choices and their effect on your health are yours and before applying any therapy or use of herbs, supplements, etc., you should consult your health care provider. 

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