Functional foods and dietary supplements might have a role in supporting drug therapy. These products may (1) have an additive effect to the effect that a drug has in reducing risk factors associated with certain conditions, (2) contribute to improve risk factors associated with the condition, other than the risk factor that the drug is dealing with, or (3) reduce drug-associated side effects, for example, by restoring depleted compounds or by reducing the necessary dose of the drug. Possible advantages compared with a multidrug therapy are lower drug costs, fewer side effects and increased adherence. In the present review we have focused on the support of statin therapy using functional foods or dietary supplements containing plant sterols and/or stanols, soluble dietary fibre, n-3 PUFA or coenzyme Q10. We conclude that there is substantial evidence that adding plant sterols and/or stanols to statin therapy further reduces total and LDL-cholesterol by roughly 6 and 10 %, respectively. Adding n-3 PUFA to statin therapy leads to a significant reduction in plasma TAG of at least 15 %. Data are insufficient and not conclusive to recommend the use of soluble fibre or coenzyme Q10 in patients on statin therapy and more randomised controlled trials towards these combinations are warranted. Aside from the possible beneficial effects from functional foods or dietary supplements on drug therapy, it is important to examine possible (negative) effects from the combination in the long term, for example, in post-marketing surveillance studies. Moreover, it is important to monitor whether the functional foods and dietary supplements are taken in the recommended amounts to induce significant effects.
(Received March 26 2009)
(Revised September 15 2009)
(Accepted November 05 2009)
(Online publication March 03 2010)
Abbreviations: ABC, ATP-binding cassette; CoQ10, coenzyme Q10; DS, dietary supplements; EFSA, European Food Safety Authority; FDA, Food and Drug Administration; FF, functional foods; FH, familial hypercholesterolaemia; HC, hypercholesterolaemic; HMG-CoA, hydroxymethylglutaryl CoA; IDL, intermediate-density lipoprotein