High cholesterol is a common but dangerous medical condition that many Americans face. Cholesterol is a thick, waxy substance that is found in the bloodstream. Patients who suffer from high cholesterol have excessive levels of LDL, or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in the blood. They also have elevated levels of triglycerides, another type of fatty lipid. These substances build up in the arteries, hardening the walls and restricting blood flow. High cholesterol can eventually block arteries completely, leading to a heart attack or stroke. High cholesterol increases a patient’s risk of developing heart disease, which is the number one cause of death for men and women in the United States, affecting over a million people each year. Although high cholesterol can have drastic and even fatal consequences, it does not cause symptoms on its own, so many men and women are unaware that their health is at risk.
While most people are aware of some of the dangers of high cholesterol, they may not know that it is also unhealthy to have low levels of another type of cholesterol; HDL (high-density lipoprotein), or “good” cholesterol. This complex protein can clear LDL cholesterol buildup from the arteries, keeping them clear and functioning. Diet, weight and exercise can impact both good and bad cholesterol. Age, gender and heredity also play a part. However, many people experience cholesterol problems even when they are taking steps to manage lifestyle risk factors. Doctors may prescribe medication to manage cholesterol levels, but some people prefer to improve their cholesterol with natural supplements. Pantethine, a derivative of vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid, has proven to be effective in both decreasing dangerous LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels and increasing levels of healthy HDL cholesterol. Pantethine has many potential benefits.
1. Pantethine is easier to metabolize than pantothenic acid, making it more biologically active. While standard B5 must go through five enzymatic conversions before it can be beneficial in the body, pantethine must only undergo a single conversion, a fact that is especially important for patients who experience fatigue or difficulty metabolizing, as their bodies may not sufficiently convert pantothenic acid into its usable form. However, biologically active supplements are also more susceptible to degradation and should be kept refrigerated to preserve the integrity of the compound.
2. Studies show that the supplement can be effective in lowering blood fats, including cholesterol and triglycerides. It can lower LDL, or “bad” cholesterol levels by around 12% and decrease triglycerides by around 18%. It can also raise HDL, or “good” cholesterol by up to 10%. These effects were repeated in multiple clinical trials where the subjects ingested between 600 and 1200 mg of pantethine per day. Lower doses produced less dramatic effects, so patients seeking results should ingest a minimum dose of 600 mg per day.
3. At least one study showed that pantethine boosts the concentration of a protein within HDL that promotes antioxidant activity and functions as an anti-inflammatory agent in the body. This higher quality HDL is more effective at removing LDL and plaque from the arteries, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
4. Scientists have several theories to explain the effectiveness of pantethine in treating high cholesterol. Pantethine is a precursor to co-enzyme A, which can help the body to metabolize fatty acids such as cholesterol. Co-enzyme A is also important in at least 70 other metabolic processes which can keep the body functioning well and clear it of toxins. Another theory cites the production of cysteamine as the source of pantethine’s success. In the body pantethine is converted into two pantothenic acid molecules and two molecules of cysteamine. This aminothiol may bind with certain amino acids in the enzymes of the liver that are essential for the production of triglycerides and cholesterol. Binding with the amino acids renders them inert, prohibiting them from producing excessive amounts of dangerous fatty lipids.
5. Pantethine is a safe alternative to other treatments for high cholesterol. The FDA has found no upper limit for tolerable intake, indicating that there is little chance of overdose or danger from taking too much of the supplement. In addition, many prescription medications for high cholesterol pose a significant risk of side effects, including memory loss, high blood sugar and type 2 diabetes. Pantethine may slow blood clotting, and patients with bleeding disorders or those who are pregnant, breastfeeding or anticipating surgery should discuss its use with their doctors. However, for most people the mild anticoagulant effects can be beneficial. So far, no other significant side effects have been linked to usage of pantethine, and studies suggest it is safe for long-term use.
6. Balancing cholesterol is the primary reason most people take a pantethine supplement, but cholesterol management is not the only benefit of this compound. Pantethine can also be used to prevent inflammation, boost the immune system, treat gastrointestinal issues and lower the risk of heart attack and stroke. It can reduce liver enzymes and increase adiponectin levels to improve a fatty liver condition. It may also aid the body in removing toxins, boost energy and athletic performance, guard against stress and improve adrenal function.
Anyone can be at risk of high cholesterol, which can lead to heart disease and stroke. Adults should have their cholesterol levels checked regularly to ensure they are within a healthy range. Those with a family history of high cholesterol might consider taking a pantethine supplement as a preventative measure. Along with a healthy diet and adequate exercise, a pantethine supplement may be effective in managing high cholesterol, as well as a number of other disorders.