Saturday, January 27, 2018

Nullifying Triglycerides

For folks looking to significantly reduce their triglycerides without fibrate and statin drugs, read on. I often read medical literature for fun. Two of the sources I frequent are Mayo Clinic and National Institutes of Health. I was facing this problem because I have a desk job, my hobbies (gaming and reading) involve sitting, and I love food. Genetics can also play a role. I am hoping that others find this information useful. The key is applying the knowledge.

Allow me to first explain what a triglyceride is for those who do not know. A triglyceride is a type of fat in the blood. The two most common causes of high triglycerides are consuming too many calories and not expending enough calories. Given the causes, we can deduce that people with high triglycerides should:

1.) Eat fewer calories per day. For non-athletic males, 1,800 calories is probably optimal. For non-athletic, non-pregnant, and non-nursing females, 1,600 calories is probably adequate. It is also interesting to note that caloric restriction has been shown in animal models and some human populations to increase longevity ( Going too low is also unhealthy and poses the potential risk of nutritional deficits.

2.) Move more/stop being sedentary. You do not need to run or do anything intense. Even casual walking is beneficial.

I am inclined to believe that even caloric reduction alone would be sufficient enough to reduce triglycerides over time even if sedentary. The convergence of dietary changes and aerobic activity would likely make the goal of triglyceride reduction occur more quickly however.

So, where do triglycerides come from? Aside from excess calories in any form, the largest offenders are refined carbohydrates including pizza dough, white bread, white rice, crackers, anything with sugar (honey, brown sugar, white sugar, brownies, muffins, cupcakes, cookies, etc.), pasta, and fruit juices. If these types of foods are not burned off, the liver stores them for later use. This is a problem as it can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD.) Furthermore, very high levels of circulating triglycerides can induce gallstone formation and pancreatitis.

Aside from the two solutions above, you can also try 1-4g of omega-3 fatty acids per day. A prescription form is available as Lovaza which contains ethyl esters of eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) acids. I opted for Carlson lemon-flavored fish oil which supplies 1,600mg of omega-3 fatty acids per teaspoon (800mg of EPA and 500mg of DHA) in triglyceride form. One teaspoon in the morning and one at night worked for me. This method, on average, seems to reduce plasma triglycerides by approximately 30% which is quite significant. Pharmacological effects of omega-3 fatty acids on triglycerides:

You can also supplement with 500mg to 1g of vitamin C (ascorbic acid and/or ascorbate) to help retard the oxidization of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and lower triglycerides per this article:

Lastly, there is vitamin B3 or niacin in the form of nicotinic acid. It must be in the nicotinic acid form considering that nicotinamide/niacinamide nor inositol hexanicotinate will exert the desired effect. The prescription form is Niaspan or Niacor. I was fearful of using this compound as I've experienced the infamous flushing effect in my late teenage years when I was more into supplements. I made the mistake of taking a standalone B3 supplement in the nicotinic acid form while taking a B complex supplement which contained the same form. It was a rather uncomfortable sensation and even triggered a panic attack. I thought I was having an allergic reaction to something. My face had turned a nice shade of red and my skin was burning. My heart rate was also elevated. This is all caused by vasodilation (opening up of capillaries which reduces blood pressure -- the heart needs to beat faster to keep up in response.) The event lasted for approximately 30 minutes. I would never again willingly put myself through that! :)

Aside from reducing triglycerides significantly, nicotinic acid also increases high-density lipoprotein (HDL -- the "good" cholesterol that transports other harmful molecules back to the liver) and reduces LDL (the bad cholesterol.) The flushing effect can be reduced by taking niacin with a meal, taking an aspirin 30 minutes prior, and using extended-release forms.

*Disclaimer: Please note that I am NOT a physician. I am merely a hobbyist who enjoys reading medical journals and published health-related studies. Prior to taking supplements, you should consult a pharmacist and/or doctor to ensure that any supplement will not negatively impact existing health conditions or other prescriptions you take.

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