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The Side-Effects of Statin Medication, Widely Taken for High Cholesterol
By Liz Barrington, Natural Body Healing

Elevated blood cholesterol is amongst one of the most common medical conditions and is a major contributor in arteriosclerosis, heart attacks, strokes and other life-threatening health problems. 

Yet, blood cholesterol levels change slowly over time;  you may not even know that they’re high so it’s therefore important to get your Doctor to regularly monitor both your levels of cholesterol and ‘trigylcerides’ in order to ensure that you stay within healthy limits. 

Approximately 25% of your cholesterol comes from your diet; the other 75% is manufactured in your liver.  When your body is working efficiently, it burns dietary fat for energy and uses cholesterol to manufacture hormones such as oestrogen and cortisone, along with nutrients such as vitamin D.

However, when your body makes excessive cholesterol or triglycerides or its systems for disposing of the excess are inefficient, these blood fats build-up along with calcium deposits, to clog and harden-up blood vessels.

These days, many different medications are prescribed to lower cholesterol.  The most commonly-used medications are known as ‘statins’ and brand names can include Mevacor, Altocor, Zocor, Pravachol, Lescol and Lipitor.  Yet, ALL types of medications used to lower cholesterol (including non-statin types) have some ‘nutrient-depletion’ issues and side-effects for the body associated in using them. 

Statins have been touted as the heart wonder drugs, with over 5 million people in the UK alone taking statins which are prescribed for high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease.  However a recent study in the US (Golomb et al, 2012, ‘Effects of Statins on Energy and Fatigue with Exertion’) has shown that the side-effects of statins experienced by women could indeed outweigh the benefits of taking the drug.

Over 300 women were randomly given a placebo or a statin (of average dose, Pravastatin 40mg or Simvastatin 20mg), as part of a wider trial.  Two out of five women reported increased fatigue and muscle pains and one in ten women felt ‘much worse’ whilst taking the statins!  The side-effects appeared to be greater for women patients.

Statins work by blocking enzymes involved in the production of cholesterol.  The ‘enabler’ for the natural oestrogen synthesis in the body is cholesterol and it is now thought that statins may interfere with this process.  Because oestrogen promotes sleep, any disruption to its levels could lead to tiredness.  Worryingly the list of officially-acknowledged statin side-effects has grown from upset stomachs, headaches, muscle aches and pains and insomnia to now include hair loss, especially in females, memory problems and depression.

The cholesterol-binding agents in these heart drugs reduce the levels of many beneficial nutrients in the body because they bind these nutrients with cholesterol in the gut, and therefore the essential nutrients get removed, along with the rest of the body’s waste.  The main nutrients that are depleted by these medications include Folic Acid, Co-Enzyme Q10, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin A and Carotenoids.

Indeed, statin medications are especially known to really reduce our natural levels of ‘Co-Enzyme Q10’.  Many studies confirm that Co-Enzyme Q10 (or Co-Q10) supports cardiac function; therefore it’s quite ironic that individuals suffering with heart disease are prescribed ‘statin’ medications to help their cardiovascular systems!  One study has shown that Co-Enzyme Q10 levels fall by up to 50% within 30 days of taking statins (Littarru, 2007).  The body’s production of Co-Enzyme Q10 naturally declines as we age, so we have to ask why we are being prescribed with statins when it is known these drugs block our diminishing production of Co-Enzyme Q10 in any case? 

This important antioxidant and vitamin-like substance is present in every cell in the body.   It is vital for the production of about 90% of our cellular energy within the mitochondria - the ‘batteries’ inside most of our cells, especially that of the heart and muscle.  Co-Enzyme Q10 is found in some foods such as organ meat and fish.  

So, how can you combat the side-effects of taking statins?  We certainly do not do not suggest that you stop taking your medication without discussing this first with your GP.  However, you should be aware of the consequences of taking the drug and if you continue to take statin medication, then it is totally safe to supplement with Nature Sunshine’s Co-Enzyme Q10.

Co-Enzyme Q10 helps reduce oxidative stress on cells throughout the body and especially contributes to the health of the heart, kidneys, liver and pancreas.  It is also known for its antioxidant properties and for its support of already normal-range blood pressure levels.  As an antioxidant, Co-Enzyme Q10 scavenges free radicals, protects cardiac cells and promotes the re-generation of Vitamin E, another heart-healthy antioxidant.  Co-Enzyme Q10 can also help with heart failure, heart attack prevention and recovery, high blood pressure, gum disease, migraine and Parkinson's Disease.  To summarise, Co-Enzyme Q10:

  • Helps reduce oxidative stress in all cells throughout the body.
  • Supports the health of the heart, kidneys, liver and pancreas.
  • Promotes healthy cardiovascular function and general longevity.
  • Supports energy production.
  • Exhibits antioxidant and neuron-protective properties.
  • Supports already-normal-range blood pressure levels.

Nature’s Sunshine uses a patented lipid-blend to keep Co-Q10 from crystallizing so that it provides maximum bioavailability.  A double-blind human clinical trial showed that Nature’s Sunshine Co-Q10 50mg was at least eight times more readily absorbed by the body than competing products.

It’s widely known that changes in nutrition and lifestyle are the most effective ways to prevent cardiovascular disease and reduce risk of heart attacks and strokes.  High cholesterol levels have accumulated over a long period of time, so be patient - they will not disappear overnight!

For more information on changes in nutrition and lifestyle, please read our other articles on Heart Disease and Blood Cholesterol listed below.

Remember, heart disease is not a condition to be taken lightly; it is VERY serious and potentially life-threatening which requires you to see your doctor or cardiologist on a regular basis. 

You should NEVER stop taking prescription medication without first consulting your doctor.  If you or your Doctor requires our assistance to verify whether our supplements will interfere with your present medication, please Contact Us.   We have access to our own in-house team of pharmacists who fully understand which drugs are available worldwide and how our herbs interact with each.


The nutritional supplement product links stated in this article can only be purchased from this website in UK and in Europe.  

The above information should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional.







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