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Is Beta-Sitosterol Safe?

Beta-sitosterol is included in a variety of dietary supplements and function foods, but is beta-sitosterol safe? Before using these products, talk to your healthcare provider if you have sitosterolemia, a vitamin deficiency due to malabsorption digestive problems, or any allergies. Since beta-sitosterol may not be safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women, talk to your healthcare provider first if this applies to you.

Is Beta-Sitosterol Safe? -- An Overview

Beta-sitosterol is a plant sterol included in some dietary supplements and "function foods," such as margarines or spreads designed to lower cholesterol. You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking it if you have:
 
  • A vitamin deficiency due to malabsorption digestive problems
  • Sitosterolemia (phytosterolaemia), a rare genetic condition
  • Any allergies, including allergies to foods, dyes, or preservatives.
     
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
 
  • Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
  • Breastfeeding.
     
You should also be sure to tell your healthcare provider about all other medicines you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
 

Specific Beta-Sitosterol Warnings and Precautions

Warnings and precautions to be aware of concerning the safety of beta-sitosterol include the following:
 
  • Beta-sitosterol may decrease the absorption of some vitamins, particularly vitamin E and beta-carotene (a type of vitamin A). If you already have a vitamin deficiency, this could become a problem.
     
  • Sitosterolemia (phytosterolaemia) is a rare genetic condition involving cholesterol and beta-sitosterol. People with this condition have unusually high levels of beta-sitosterol and should avoid beta-sitosterol products.
     
  • Beta-sitosterol can interact with a few different medications (see Beta-Sitosterol Drug Interactions).
     
  • It is not known if beta-sitosterol is safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women (see Beta-Sitosterol and Pregnancy and Beta-Sitosterol and Breastfeeding).
     
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