Cholesterol is the word on every doctor’s lips when their patient reaches a certain age or weight. Their patients are typically prescribed statins, drugs that lower cholesterol by blocking substances your liver needs to produce cholesterol and helps your body reabsorb cholesterol in your arteries. The theory is that these drugs can prevent heart attacks, but this claim has yielded mixed results.
Commonly prescribed drugs include atorvastatin (Lipitor), fluvastatin (Lescol), lovastatin (Altoprev), pitavastatin (Livalo), pravastatin (Pravachol), rosuvastatin (Crestor) and simvastatin (Zocor) (1).
What you Should Know About Statins
Although these drugs are praised as being life-saving, researchers have warned that they can affect stem cells, prevent cell repair, create nerve problems and destroy memory.
This is because cholesterol plays a role in the formation of hormones, bile, cell maintenance and communication between neurones and nerve cells. Researchers also warn that statins cause an increased risk of diabetes, the breakdown of muscle fibers, and an increase in protein levels in your urine.
- Liver damage
- Memory loss and confusion
- High blood sugar and diabetes
- Difficulty sleeping
- Flushing of the skin
- Muscle aches, tenderness, or weakness (myalgia)
- Nausea or vomiting
- Abdominal cramping or pain
- Bloating or gas
- Kidney damage
- Dementia and Alzheimer’s
- Increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke
That’s not all, a recent analysis of data from different ninety studies involving around 30 million people, identified 48 unintended consequences of statin use, some good, some bad (6).
Among some of the worst include serious nutritional deficiencies.
4 Little-Known Nutritional Deficiencies Caused by Statin Use
1. Vitamin D
That’s why cholesterol-restricting drugs can cause vitamin D deficiency, with symptoms like muscle weakness and pain (8).
Vitamin D also plays a role in preventing weak bones, bone pain, bone loss, hyperparathyroidism. Other benefits of the vitamin include lower blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, muscle weakness, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, bronchitis, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and tooth and gum disease (11).
2. Co-Enzyme Q10
C0q10 is a substance found in every cell in your body. It’s used to produce the energy your body needs to grow and maintain cells.
By the age of 25, your body’s levels of C0Q10 are reduced by half. By the age of 80, your levels are down by another two-thirds (12).
Statins impair C0Q10 production by blocking HMG-CoA reductase, an enzyme required to create the substance (13). Just 2-4 weeks of using the drug reduces your levels of cholesterol and coenzyme Q10 by half (14).
Taking C0Q10 daily for a month can reduce statin-induced muscle pain by 40% (15).
Food sources rich in the nutrient includes organ meats, fish, whole grains, nuts, soybeans, and green vegetables.
3. Vitamin K
The vitamin can reduce the risk of developing coronary heart disease in women aged 49-70 by 9% (18).
Since cholesterol-lowering drugs affect your vitamin K stores, the drugs meant to protect your heart can actually worsen your condition.
Sources of vitamin K1 include cauliflower, broccoli, and green leafy vegetables, while vitamin K2 is found in animal-based foods such as egg yolk, liver and fish liver oils, meats and hard cheeses, as well as fermented foods.
4. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant found in wheat germ oil, avocado, wholegrain cereals, nuts, and seeds.
Regular statin use is known to reduce your body’s vitamin E levels by 17% (19).
Vitamin E alone can significantly reduce the risk of a fatal heart attack by up to 16% as well as reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 24% (20,21). The vitamin even has the ability to fight atherosclerosis, a condition in which plaque builds in the arteries and take a strain on the heart.