Lower cholesterol and restless legs

Q I read recently that supplementing with lecithin helps lower cholesterol levels. Can you tell me more about this, and how much I should take?

ALecithin is what is known as an accessory nutrient, meaning it is not produced in high quantities in the body and so must be provided through the diet. Key food sources of lecithin include eggs, liver, soybeans, cauliflower, oranges, peanuts and dandelion.

Cholesterol is a fatty substance made by the liver from saturated fats in the foods we eat. While it plays a vital role throughout the body, too much cholesterol in the blood can increase your risk of getting coronary heart disease.

There are two main types of cholesterol — HDL (High Density Lipoprotein or ‘good cholesterol’), and LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein or ‘bad cholesterol’). Total cholesterol measures the combination of the two, along with several other factors. It is important to work on both reducing LDL cholesterol and increasing HDL cholesterol levels to reduce the risk of heart disease.

Lecithin (also known as Phosphatidyl choline) does help to reduce LDL cholesterol levels by making it more soluble, however, it is difficult to source a supplement which is not soy-based. Unless you can find a soy lecithin product which is guaranteed GMO-free, chances are it comes from a genetically modified crop.

The good news is that there is a sunflower-based lecithin available but it can be very difficult to source.

Most health stores stock Sona’s Lecithin granules, which are reasonably priced at e6.95 for 225g, and guaranteed GMO free. Take around 3 teaspoons daily. Lecithin can be added to smoothies, juices, desserts, or cereals.

Since lecithin has not clearly been shown to reduce overall cholesterol levels or to increase the production of good (HDL) cholesterol, it would benefit you to also include foods which would are known to regulate both LDL and HDL cholesterol levels, such as turmeric, apples, oats, beans, Brussels sprouts, pears, barley, psyllium, prunes, freshly-squeezed orange juice, oily fish, onions, garlic, fermented soy products (miso, natto, tempeh, tamari, shoyu), olive oil, seeds, nuts (except peanuts), and berries.

A healthy total cholesterol level for adults aged 30 years-plus is considered to be 5.2mmol/L (200mg/dL), while dietary changes are necessary if it is between 5.2-6.2mmol/L (200-240mg/dL).

Q My wife has a condition called restless legs syndrome, which drives her crazy when she goes to bed — she has to constantly move her legs. Is there anything natural that might help her?

ARestless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder characterised by an overwhelming urge to move the legs to relieve the discomfort caused by a deep tingling, aching or burning sensation. The reason why this appears more intense at bed-time is because RLS is aggravated by periods of inactivity. Airplane travel is another typical trigger.

A study cited in the Irish Medical Journal found that many sufferers had an underlying folate deficiency, so your wife may benefit from supplementing with folic acid. Vegetables such as asparagus, spinach, and kale are all good sources of folate too.

Magnesium is another supplement that may help, as it assists in the relaxation of the muscles and nerves triggering these sensations. She will need to take 250mg of magnesium daily to feel any positive benefits.

Stretching exercises can help — yoga promotes better circulation to the extremities and also helps with relaxation. If yoga doesn’t appeal, then simply performing a series of basic stretching exercises upon arising in the morning and before bed at night can make a significant difference. Massaging the legs helps some sufferers too.

* For more information and support, visit [url= www.restlesslegs.org.uk] www.restlesslegs.org.uk url].


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