DEAR DR. BLONZ: I know that you are a nutritionist and recommend healthy eating and lifestyle, but I wanted to tell you my story. The blood test at my most recent wellness exam showed that my cholesterol levels were OK, but I had very high triglycerides. My family has a history of heart disease, so I remain concerned. My family doctor recently retired, and I had started with a new nurse practitioner, and she prescribed Tricor for my triglycerides.
The results were almost immediate. My numbers dropped from very high into the normal range. I had been working on this using diet and exercise, but the use of Tricor was almost a miracle since no one for 20 years had any suggestions on how to lower my triglyceride numbers. -- F.S., Tulsa, Oklahoma
Dear F.S.: Tricor is a brand name for a prescription medication based on the compound named fenofibrate. It is one of the medications that can help lower elevated blood lipids, including triglycerides. It's great that you have experienced success. If you haven’t already, I recommend you read through the accompanying documentation about this drug.
If the documentation is no longer available, consider visiting a website with consumer information on this compound. Pay particular attention to possible interactions with other medications and food-drug interactions (check the pages at b.link/quwac8). For example, if taking fenofibrate, you should avoid grapefruit juice and monitor your alcohol intake. Remember to contact your pharmacist or other health professionals if you have questions or concerns.
Having very high triglycerides is not good, and the fact that heart disease is in your family history would certainly heighten your concern. It's excellent that you have a health professional who has helped. It is essential to appreciate that while the medication has lowered your triglyceride level, it does not lessen the importance of a healthful diet and lifestyle, so don’t give up on these. Continue to live that healthful life, and there will be more of it to enjoy.
DEAR DR. BLONZ: I am a cat lover and owner, and I know that taurine is an essential amino acid for cats, but not for us. I see it in energy drinks and wanted an explanation. -- R.G., Chicago
DEAR R.G.: Taurine is not an amino acid; it is a related compound known as a sulfonic acid. You are correct that it is needed by cats and not by human adults; a healthy body can make what it needs on its own.
Taurine does play several roles, including involvement in fat digestion and various aspects of the cardiovascular system. There is also evidence that additional taurine may help with some pathologies. In sports drinks, though, the caffeine provides the kick, so it is unclear what taurine adds aside from misdirected curb appeal, especially given the small amount provided per serving.
Send questions to: "On Nutrition," Ed Blonz, c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO, 64106. Send email inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Due to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.