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Old 04-09-05, 01:24 PM   #1
xccelr8
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Raising HDL

Hi,

I am looking for natural alternatives to raising my HDL cholesterol. I have very low total cholesterol (in the range of 170 -180) but my HDL cholesterol is also low (26-30). My physician put me on a vitamin called Niacin which I have been taking in a slow release prescription version called Niaspan. Exercise and Niaspan has helped to increase my HDL to the low 30s' but would really like to get it over 40. Are there any safe proven natural supplement or foods any of you can recommend for raising HDL?
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Old 04-09-05, 06:06 PM   #2
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You better check out Niacin on the web. Large doses have significant side affects. My doctor would not even consider it. I chose a much safer route with a lower dose of the statin Pravachol to reduce my cholesterol and LDL.

I believe exercise is the only way to increase HDL. Mine stays around 50 as long as I do exercise equivalent to a metric century plus an 18 mile single-track ride and some weight training each week. That's my present regime. Long distance canoe paddling used to do it as did jogging. For some of us, it just takes endurance sports. Men have a harder time then women as testosterone tends to suppress HDL.

Al
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Old 04-09-05, 06:13 PM   #3
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If you're overfat, you'll need to pick up your aerobic activity to get your bodyfat content down. You should also cut out saturated and trans fatty acids (like the stuff in oreos and stuff like that). If you smoke, cut it out! And cut out the alcohol. Also, increase your fiber intake naturally, with whole grains, veggies and fruits.

I've done that, and over time, I've been able to increase my HDL a lot.

Don't do supplements. Just change your diet and eating plans.

Koffee
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Old 04-09-05, 07:28 PM   #4
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I take 3000 mg/day of regular (not time release) niacin. It has been very effective for me (my HDL is around 80).

I've also lost weight, and eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.

I've heard that there are more problems with the time-release niacin than with the non-time release version. But, some people have problems tolerating the "flushing" that it causes (basically, it makes your skin feel itchy and sometimes turn reddish).

You can build up a tolerance to the flushing, by : 1) starting with low doses, taken just before bedtime, with an aspirin a half hour before the niacin, 2) gradually increasing the dosage over several months, 3) taking it very consistently (the tolerance is lost quickly if you stop taking it).

I've been taking niacin this way for 5 years (under doctor's supervision, and with liver function tests every couple of years). It's very inexpensive compared to prescription meds (about 8 cents per day), and seems to work very well for me.

AFAIK, statin drugs do not raise HDL levels - they just lower the LDL.
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Old 04-09-05, 07:33 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Al.canoe
You better check out Niacin on the web. Large doses have significant side affects. My doctor would not even consider it. I chose a much safer route with a lower dose of the statin Pravachol to reduce my cholesterol and LDL.

I believe exercise is the only way to increase HDL. Mine stays around 50 as long as I do exercise equivalent to a metric century plus an 18 mile single-track ride and some weight training each week. That's my present regime. Long distance canoe paddling used to do it as did jogging. For some of us, it just takes endurance sports. Men have a harder time then women as testosterone tends to suppress HDL.

Al
That's strange...the only side effects I'm aware of are: 1) liver function abnormalities (but, these can occur with statins too), and 2) a "flushing" sensation (it can be irritating at first, but the body builds up tolerance to it and then it's hardly noticeable).

With niacin (3000 mg/day), my HDL stays around 80. Statins can't do that, because they only work on the LDL.

I've talked to various doctor's about niacin, and have never encountered a doc who "wouldn't consider it".

As for the safety of niacin vs. statins - I've heard some disturbing things lately about long-term statin usage (muscle function issues, mental function issues, etc.). Hard to say which is safer...but, I do know which one the big drug companies want to push.

Last edited by SSP; 04-09-05 at 10:33 PM.
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Old 04-09-05, 07:36 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by xccelr8
Hi,

I am looking for natural alternatives to raising my HDL cholesterol. I have very low total cholesterol (in the range of 170 -180) but my HDL cholesterol is also low (26-30). My physician put me on a vitamin called Niacin which I have been taking in a slow release prescription version called Niaspan. Exercise and Niaspan has helped to increase my HDL to the low 30s' but would really like to get it over 40. Are there any safe proven natural supplement or foods any of you can recommend for raising HDL?
I have had the same problem since the days when I was fat and smoking (15 years ago): low cholesterol, but HDL too low as well. Losing weight and exercising have helped a lot of things, but not the HDL level. Frankly, I've refused medication because (a) most of the research shows a given medicine changes HDL, but not necessarily that it lowers cardiovascular disease -- which is the only thing that counts, (b) I'd probably have to take it for 30 years, and I worry about the long term effects and side effects, and (c) there's not much of a family history of cardiovascular problems for me. I'm looking forward to other replies -- I must admit that the poster pointing out the hazards of Niacin has already made me feel better about my decision to forego medication at this time.
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Old 04-09-05, 07:39 PM   #7
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I have had the same problem since the days when I was fat and smoking (15 years ago): low cholesterol, but HDL too low as well. Losing weight and exercising have helped a lot of things, but not the HDL level. Frankly, I've refused medication because (a) most of the research shows a given medicine changes HDL, but not necessarily that it lowers cardiovascular disease -- which is the only thing that counts, (b) I'd probably have to take it for 30 years, and I worry about the long term effects and side effects, and (c) there's not much of a family history of cardiovascular problems for me. I'm looking forward to other replies -- I must admit that the poster pointing out the hazards of Niacin has already made me feel better about my decision to forego medication at this time.

You're exercising, you've given up smoking, but have you changed your diet?

Koffee
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Old 04-09-05, 09:24 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by koffee brown
You're exercising, you've given up smoking, but have you changed your diet?

Koffee
I lost the weight by being on Pritikin for about two years. That's very low fat.

Then my daughters became 1 vegan and 1 vegetarian, and as a result I started eating rather little meat, although I never became a vegetarian.

I'm a pretty good eater still, although I had a Polish and fries with a diet Coke for lunch, so I'm not bragging about today.
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Old 04-09-05, 09:31 PM   #9
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Guys, Guys, Guys,

Today Niacin in it's various forms is a safe and effective way to raise HDL. It
is not a great drug, and there are a couple of (hopefully) better ones on the way in 4-6 years.

Al.canoe, you don't need niacin if your HDL is 50 and the LDL is controlled. Your doc made a good choice.

SSP. Great work. Actually, some statins, such as Crestor do raise HDL, but not as effectively as Niacin. Also, Niaspan is probably as safe as crystalline Niacin.

xccelr8 and Koffee brown. Talk to your docs. HDL and LDL are independant risk factors for coronary artery disease. Taking high dose anti-lipid drugs leads to a one in a million chance of dying from a side effect every 200 days. That is the same risk as riding a motorcycle for 2 minutes or living for 5 minutes when over 65.



good luck.

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Old 04-09-05, 09:36 PM   #10
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I don't take drugs. My HDL was low because I looked like Oprah from the Color Purple (in size, that is). Then I started exercising, and later, I started cycling, and the HDL went way up and LDL went way low. So I'm all good now.

Koffee
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Old 04-09-05, 10:36 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by koffee brown
I don't take drugs. My HDL was low because I looked like Oprah from the Color Purple (in size, that is). Then I started exercising, and later, I started cycling, and the HDL went way up and LDL went way low. So I'm all good now.

Koffee
same here except for the whole looking like Oprah part. I was at 290 total and am now down to 124 total with 40 HDL.
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Old 04-09-05, 10:48 PM   #12
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Very cool. I haven't lost that much weight, but I have slimmed down a bit, and raised my HDL a ton. I have a high total cholesterol number, but my HDL is REALLY high and my LDL is REALLY low. It's almost like I reversed the two numbers. My doctor is really proud of me.

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Old 04-10-05, 06:48 AM   #13
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[QUOTE=zbicyclist]I have had the same problem since the days when I was fat and smoking (15 years ago): low cholesterol, but HDL too low as well. Losing weight and exercising have helped a lot of things, but not the HDL level. Frankly, I've refused medication because (a) most of the research shows a given medicine changes HDL, but not necessarily that it lowers cardiovascular disease -- which is the only thing that counts,QUOTE]

You raise a very important point. It has not been proven that high HDL or low Cholesterol in general reduce cardiovascular problems. It's been just the best educated "guess" up till now. Recent studies indicate that a certain protein is a big factor. You apparently may need both cholesterol control and low values of this particular protein. They don't yet know if the protein itself is the problem or if it's just an indicator of a problem like a virus infection.

Statins apparently reduces the level of this protein in addition to reducing Cholesterol/LDL and possibly Triglycerides (mine are way down). In my case, maintaining good weight, good diet and a very vigorous exercise program for about 40 years has not been enough. Pravachol (20 mg) is my silver bullet.

Diet and weight have never affected my HDL and I have experimented over the years. I have also read that they won't.

Al
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Old 04-10-05, 08:18 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by bakhurts
Guys, Guys, Guys,

Today Niacin in it's various forms is a safe and effective way to raise HDL. It
is not a great drug, and there are a couple of (hopefully) better ones on the way in 4-6 years.

Al.canoe, you don't need niacin if your HDL is 50 and the LDL is controlled. Your doc made a good choice.

SSP. Great work. Actually, some statins, such as Crestor do raise HDL, but not as effectively as Niacin. Also, Niaspan is probably as safe as crystalline Niacin.

xccelr8 and Koffee brown. Talk to your docs. HDL and LDL are independant risk factors for coronary artery disease. Taking high dose anti-lipid drugs leads to a one in a million chance of dying from a side effect every 200 days. That is the same risk as riding a motorcycle for 2 minutes or living for 5 minutes when over 65.



good luck.

bakhurts
Thanks for all of your input.

FYI, I weigh 170lbs, never have been over weight, do not smoke and very occasionally drink alcohol (i.e. a beer or two a month). I have also heard about the potential side effects of anti-lipid drugs such as statins. I have never considered taking a statin and felt that Niaspan was a relatively safe alternative (I have lipid and liver enzyme panel every six months).
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Old 04-10-05, 12:54 PM   #15
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What's your bodyfat percentage? 170 pounds doesn't tell us much.

On the other hand, it could be genetically related, which means you would need the drugs to get HDL increased.

Koffee
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Old 04-10-05, 03:39 PM   #16
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[QUOTE=Al.canoe]
Quote:
Originally Posted by zbicyclist
I have had the same problem since the days when I was fat and smoking (15 years ago): low cholesterol, but HDL too low as well. Losing weight and exercising have helped a lot of things, but not the HDL level. Frankly, I've refused medication because (a) most of the research shows a given medicine changes HDL, but not necessarily that it lowers cardiovascular disease -- which is the only thing that counts,QUOTE]

You raise a very important point. It has not been proven that high HDL or low Cholesterol in general reduce cardiovascular problems. It's been just the best educated "guess" up till now. Recent studies indicate that a certain protein is a big factor. You apparently may need both cholesterol control and low values of this particular protein. They don't yet know if the protein itself is the problem or if it's just an indicator of a problem like a virus infection.

Al
At my last physical, I agreed with my doctor that I would have the protein test if my HDL was still low next year. He'd just talked me into a colonoscopy and a pulmonary function test, and I don't think he wanted to press his luck.

[The colonoscopy is because of my age and family history. The PFT is because I had sarcoidosis some years ago.]
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Old 04-11-05, 07:11 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by koffee brown
What's your bodyfat percentage? 170 pounds doesn't tell us much.

On the other hand, it could be genetically related, which means you would need the drugs to get HDL increased.

Koffee
Not sure what my bodyfat % is. I should have mentioned that I'm 6' 1" tall and 170lbs.
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Old 04-11-05, 11:15 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by xccelr8
Not sure what my bodyfat % is. I should have mentioned that I'm 6' 1" tall and 170lbs.
At that height and weight, your body fat percentage is probably fairly low.

I've included a Body Fat Estimator, and the ability to track body fat changes over time, in my CycliStats and WeightWare programs. The estimate is based on research done by the US Dept. of Defense, and is sometimes referred to as the "Navy" method. It provides a reasonable estimate of body fat, and only requires a couple of simple circumference measurements (for men, neck and abdomen).

You can also find an online version of the Navy method here (just ignore their recommended "Ideal Weight" - that's not part of the Navy method for estimating body fat, and I have no idea where they get that number from):

http://www.he.net/%7Ezone/prothd2.html
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Old 04-11-05, 04:24 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by SSP
At that height and weight, your body fat percentage is probably fairly low.

I've included a Body Fat Estimator, and the ability to track body fat changes over time, in my CycliStats and WeightWare programs. The estimate is based on research done by the US Dept. of Defense, and is sometimes referred to as the "Navy" method. It provides a reasonable estimate of body fat, and only requires a couple of simple circumference measurements (for men, neck and abdomen).

You can also find an online version of the Navy method here (just ignore their recommended "Ideal Weight" - that's not part of the Navy method for estimating body fat, and I have no idea where they get that number from):

http://www.he.net/%7Ezone/prothd2.html
Thanks SSP. How do you like CycliStats? CyclingNew.com recently had a small write-up about CycliStats 4.0. Any other users of CycliStats? I'd appreciate your feedback.
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Old 04-11-05, 05:24 PM   #20
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Thanks SSP. How do you like CycliStats? CyclingNew.com recently had a small write-up about CycliStats 4.0. Any other users of CycliStats? I'd appreciate your feedback.
I like CycliStats a LOT! But, I'm the author, so that's to be expected .

You can test drive CycliStats for 30 days, by downloading the free, no-obligation, no email address trial version from my website (www.CycliStats.com).
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Old 04-11-05, 05:33 PM   #21
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Does SSP mean Software Shameless Promotions?



Sounds like good software, dood. Congrats on the write upin Cycling news!

Koffee
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Old 04-11-05, 05:50 PM   #22
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Does SSP mean Software Shameless Promotions?



Sounds like good software, dood. Congrats on the write upin Cycling news!

Koffee
Thanks. Actually, SSP is for "Shasta Software Prez" (I try not to be too shameless in promoting it, but "you can't sell what you don't tell", and I do try to be informative and on-topic as much as possible).

CycliStats *is* good software, and (hopefully) getting better. Just last week I released version 4.7 that includes some new tools for mountain goats (a new "Climbing Calculator", plus average Rate of Climb for each ride), plus new graphs for "time in heart rate zone", and the ability to see graphs in 3D.

When my consulting and contract programming business started to drop off a year or so ago (due mostly to offshoring), I decided to try and combine my two passions - programming and cycling. It's still a struggle, but I'd rather be "doing what I love" than working in a basement cubicle for the county. The writeup in cyclingnews.com certainly helped my download rate, and I'm hoping their tech guy will follow it up in a month or so with a more in-depth review.

If anyone has any questions or suggestions for CycliStats, feel free to PM me, or email me at garyg@shastasoftware.com.
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