How to Manage High Cholesterol in Teenagers

By Michael A. Smith, MD

High cholesterol and triglycerides in teenagers are a growing concern among doctors, for good reason.

We already know that arterial plaques begin to develop in childhood with fatty streaks — the accumulation of cholesterol and fat inside the wall of the artery, due to vascular injury and inflammation.

However, with past generations, less refined sugar and lower rates of obesity in teenagers slowed the progression of fatty streaks into full-blown atherosclerosis, which for most adults today peaks in the mid to late sixties.

But this could change with the younger generations. Conventional doctors are diagnosing abnormal lipid profiles in teenagers. What does this mean?

It means that teens with high cholesterol today will develop full-blown atherosclerosis at an earlier age. Not only that, it also means that more statin prescriptions and even bigger profits are in the pipeline for Big Pharma and statin drug manufacturers.

Do You Want your Teenager Taking Statins?

First off, due to their unhealthy diets and lack of exercise, all teenagers should have their cholesterol and triglyceride levels evaluated. These are risk factors for heart disease, just not the only ones — despite what the statin pushers would have you believe.

So, get your teenagers tested. It can help identify a problem early before it gets out of hand.

However, here’s what not to do: If your teen’s cholesterol and triglyceride levels come back elevated, don’t let the doctor start them on statin medications. Doctors will start doing this because, simply put, it’s the easiest way out.

In truth, giving your teen statins won’t teach them anything about proper diet and exercise and could likely result in a lifelong habit of pill-popping.

Statins should only be used in teenagers if the LDL-cholesterol level is above 250 mg/dL. In a case like that, statin therapy is warranted at least until it comes down and can be managed with diet and supplements.

Why else should statins be avoided by teenagers? Because statin drugs not only decrease cholesterol, but they also may decrease steroid hormones1…and teenagers need steroid hormones to grow and develop.

In short, there are much safer and more effective ways to manage high cholesterol in teenagers.

Diet and Supplements are Best for Managing Cholesterol

Amazingly, most teenagers can lower their cholesterol and triglyceride levels pretty easily and quickly with a change in diet and activity level. In my experience, if they can stick with this new lifestyle, lipid profiles will reverse to normal in just a few months.

Of course, “if” is a big word. But as a parent or aunt or friend, you have to get them to try to make these necessary changes — changes like increasing their soluble fiber intake, eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, avoiding sugary drinks, and exercising.

And, as they make these changes, consider adding a plant sterol, fish oil and B vitamins to their regimen.

A small pilot study recruited 25 teenagers with abnormal lipid profiles to receive an emulsified preparation of plant sterols, fish oil, vitamins B12, B6, folic acid and coenzyme Q10 for 16 weeks.

At the end of the trial, there was a significant reduction in total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, LDL subtypes and homocysteine levels. Additionally, triglycerides decreased by 17.6% but the change was not statistically significant.2

What You Need to Know About Teens and Cholesterol

Teenagers today are testing positive for heart disease risk factors, like high cholesterol and triglycerides.

The good news is that they respond well to diet and exercise. They just need help to get started — help in the form of dietary changes and supplements such as plant sterols, fish oil, B vitamins and CoQ10.

Or, you can just skip the dietary changes and supplements and prescribe them a statin drug — probably for life. What do you think is the best choice?


  1. J Sex Med. 2010 Apr;7(4 Pt 1):1547-56. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2009.01698.x. Epub 2010 Feb 5
  2. Nutrition Journal 2013, 12:7 doi:10.1186/1475-2891-12-7


Alan and Kay said...

You are operating from the false premise that cholesterol is bad. It's not. It forms in the arteries as a response to inflammation. Inflammation caused by eating grains, O6 oils etc. It's like blaiming firefighters for house fires because you always see them together. Anyone who takes statins is a fool, giving them to kids is child abuse. Eliminate processed junk (all grains and their derivatives, all veg oils) and eat more meat and green veg and fat from animal sources and cholesterol and high triglycerides will normalize.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Alan and Kay. Recently on Dr. Oz a doctor was on , his name is Dr. Sinatra and he said Statins were not helping heart disease. In february last year the FDA finally put a black box warning on Crestor ( a statin), saying they caused diabetis in 30% of users, also they cause muscle pain and interfere with liver function, some cardiologists are seeing cases of heart failure from these dangerous drugs because they rob the body of COQ10. Other doctors I have read say that the cholesterol level should never be below 200. the dietary advice of Alan and Kay is right on as well.

LifeExtension said...

Anonymous - We're definitely advocates of proper nutrition and lifestyle. And those type of changes can prevent the need for prescription medications altogether. Thanks for chiming in!

Sunshine Coast Bookkeeping Services said...

Teenagers are very young to experience heart problems due to cholesterol. I don't want to see them taking statin. So, parents should have to look after their kids when it comes to health.

LifeExtension said...

Sunshine Coast Bookkeeping Services - Good point! Yes, parents need to take an active approach in their teen's health. We totally agree with that. :-)

Achieve Birmingham said...

Thanks for sharing this information. As a parent, this is probably one of the last things that you think you'll have to worry about. Sadly, with many kids living significantly more sedentary lifestyles coupled with poor overall diets, I think there is legitimate concern to be had when it comes to some teenage cholesterol levels.

LifeExtension said...

Achieve Birmingham - We couldn't agree with you more!

Stephen in Miami said...

I think Achieve Birmingham raised a good point with their comment. Cholesterol levels are not the first thing people consider when they think about their health, and there are no physical symptoms that would suggest you have developed high cholesterol. The reason I wanted to bring this up is that September is actually Cholesterol Education Month. So if anyone reading this comment has been thinking about their cholesterol, but hasn't ever had it checked, this would be the perfect time to talk to your doctor about. Thank you!

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