CholestOff reduces cholesterol, but not as much as advertised

I received some emails promoting Nature Made CholestOff. It contains plant extracts called phytonutrients, specifically phytosterols and phytostanols. They work by reducing the absorption of LDL “bad” cholesterol and total cholesterol from the intestines.

The ad emphasizes a 24% reduction in LDL cholesterol when combined with diet and exercise. However…

The majority of studies and reviews of the medical literature here, here, and here, have concluded that LDL cholesterol is decreased by 10% to 14%. One study reported a 20% reduction.

By comparison, the prescription drug ezetimibe (Zetia), which also inhibits cholesterol absorption, lowers LDL cholesterol 18%. Statins lower LDL cholesterol from 25% to 40% through a different mechanism.


  • Avoid phytostanol supplementation in pregnant women and nursing mothers.
  • Phytostanols, as well as phytosterols, may lower blood levels of alpha- and beta-carotene, lycopene and vitamin E, probably by interfering with their absorption.

10/19/06 19:10 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.