If you’ve never heard of beta sitosterol, you’re not alone. While it’s been around awhile, science is only just scratching the surface of its health promoting properties, which studies indicate could range from lowering cholesterol to fighting prostate issues and more.
What is beta sitosterol?
Beta sitosterol is a naturally-occurring phytosterol (aka plant sterol) that is very similar in molecular structure to cholesterol. Studies have shown it may reduce high cholesterol levels in adults by blocking the amount of cholesterol your body takes in, preventing cholesterol levels from getting higher. However, it’s also commonly used to treat other ailments as well, making it a big rising star in the supplement world as science uncovers more and more of its powerful health-promoting properties.
The benefits of beta sitosterol
The main reason people opt to take beta sitosterol as a supplement is for high cholesterol issues, and this is one of the most well-studied benefits of beta sitosterol that has been studied by mainstream science and the medical community.
Beta sitosterol is very structurally similar to cholesterol and is known to prevent cholesterol from getting higher. The theory goes that beta sitosterol is so structurally similar to cholesterol that your body doesn’t take in or make more cholesterol, because it thinks you already have enough when you supplement with beta sitosterol. The jury is still out on whether it actively lowers your cholesterol, but studies do indicate that it stops it from getting higher. So, what that means is, even if it turns out it doesn’t actively lower it, it can still make it a lot easier for you to lower your own cholesterol because it’s now static and not getting higher, which means things like diet and exercise will be a lot more effective in lowering your cholesterol than they otherwise would be, because it’s no longer an uphill battle—the playing field has been leveled, if you will.
Another well-studied benefit to beta sitosterol is treating benign prostatic hyperplasia (aka BPH). This is a rather common condition that occurs more frequently as men age. Essentially, it is urinary difficulty caused by prostate issues that aren’t cancerous. After your doctor has determined your prostate problems aren’t caused by prostate cancer, he will likely have you supplement with beta sitosterol to fight common but significant BPH symptoms like urinating frequently or with difficulty. These issues can really put a damper on a man’s self-esteem, and they can also interrupt work and social activities, which is why it’s so important to treat BPH even though it’s not a type of cancer. Studies show that BPH symptoms reduced in men significantly when taking beta sitosterol as opposed to a placebo, which means there’s good evidence it can help a lot.
- While high cholesterol and BPH are the most common reasons to take beta sitosterol, they’re not the only ones.
- Since it improves cardiovascular function, many people take it for a healthy circulatory system, which promote a more robust sex drive, more intense arousal and better hair growth.
- For beta sitosterol’s anti-inflammatory benefits, people take it to help reduce pain from chronic illnesses like systemic lupus erythematosus (aka lupus), osteoarthritis as well as to recover from intense athletic training.
Beta sitosterol side effects
Most people don’t have side effects from taking beta sitosterol, but when they do, it’s usually in higher doses. Side effects may include things like constipation, diarrhea, and nausea. If this happens to you, check with your doctor or pharmacist to ensure you’ve got the correct dosage, which can help reduce the chance of side effects.
Beta sitosterol dosage
Recommended beta sitosterol dosage varies, depending on the condition(s) you’re talking it for. Most reputable beta sitosterol supplements fall well within what is generally considered the safe range for healthy adults, and most take a middle ground approach with doses ranging from 300mg to 1000mg. Any beta sitosterol dosage you wish to take that goes beyond what is typically found in reputable supplement brands should be discussed with your doctor, due to the fact that the higher the dosage, the more likely you are to experience side effects. That said, your doctor will be able to help you manage the side effects that may happen when very high doses are consumed.
It should be noted that, generally, healthy people who take beta sitosterol as a supplement in the typical recommended serving size are usually getting enough beta sitosterol to reap the benefits without over doing it.