Over-the-Counter Vitamins to Raise HDL Cholesterol

Niacin, a B vitamin that is available in over-the-counter supplements and multivitamins, is known to increase the levels of high density lipoproteins, or HDL, which is also known as good cholesterol. However, when used for this purpose, higher dosages are needed and that typically will require a prescription from your physician. In addition, high doses of niacin can cause side effects that include skin flushing and gastrointestinal upset. The Mayo Clinic recommends that you consult a health care professional before you use niacin to raise your HDL level.

  1. Other B Vitamins

    • Vitamins B6 and B12 help process an amino acid found in the blood called homocysteine. High levels of homocysteine have been linked to cardiovascular disease, which can be caused by high levels of cholesterol. It is premature to assume that increasing the intake of vitamins B6 or B12 will reduce the incidence of heart disease, but this is an area that future researchers may explore, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health.

    Vitamin C

    • Some researchers claim to have documented a link between higher dosages of vitamin C and lower levels of LDL or bad cholesterol, which could leave people with higher proportions of HDL in their blood. For example, according to studies originally reported in 2008 in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, test subjects who took at least 500 mg of vitamin C daily for three to 24 weeks reduced LDL levels by 5 percent, while showing little signs of change in their HDL levels. Other sources claim there is little evidence to establish a link between a higher intake of vitamin C and lower cholesterol, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health.

    Vitamin D

    • Vitamin D is typically associated with bone health. However, one study claims to verify a connection between higher intake of vitamin D and improved health of people with congestive heart failure. There is no available research on a link between higher levels of vitamin D and improved cholesterol levels, according to the American Heart Association.

    Vitamin E

    • Certain research studies performed in labs have shown vitamin E can prevent the oxidation of LDL or bad cholesterol. Observational studies involving a large group of nurses have demonstrated a link between higher intake of vitamin E, mostly through supplements, and a 30- to 40-percent lower incidence of heart disease. However, clinical studies on middle-aged and older men and women found no correlation between vitamin E intake and lower cholesterol or lower heart disease. Some believe that further research involving a younger group of individuals over a longer period of time is needed, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health.

    Proven steps to improve your cholesterol

    • Proven steps to lower your total cholesterol are similar to those needed to raise your HDL cholesterol, according to the American Heart Association. Adopt a healthy lifestyle. Limit the amount of saturated fat that you eat. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Exercise regularly. Maintain a healthy weight. In three to six months, a healthy lifestyle change may lower your cholesterol. If it doesn't, your physician may recommend medication to manage your cholesterol.

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