Metamucil is made up of psyllium, a type of soluble fiber. Psyllium has been shown to help improve total cholesterol numbers and lower the bad cholesterol floating around in your blood. If you want to start taking this over-the-counter supplement to help with your cholesterol, you'll have to add it to your diet gradually, following the recommended dosage. Otherwise, digestive complications can occur.
How It Works
Once Metamucil reaches your stomach, it starts dissolving into a gel substance, trapping some of the cholesterol from your meal. As it moves farther down into your small intestine, the gel sops up more cholesterol and some bile acids, which are components of cholesterol. These particles move along in your waste, stuck in the gel formula, minimizing their chances of being absorbed. In the end, all that harmful stuff gets pushed out when you move your bowels. Over time, by reducing cholesterol absorption, your low-density lipoprotein -- harmful cholesterol -- should decrease. However, the University of Maryland Medical Center points out that in addition to taking psyllium, you should also follow a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet to further improve your blood cholesterol.
How to Take It
Powdered Metamucil mixes in with any type of liquid. Stir it into juice, water, iced tea or even smoothies. If you opt for capsules, swallow them whole rather than dissolving them in fluid. The crunchy wafers simply need to be chewed and swallowed. Every time you take a dose of Metamucil capsules or wafers, it's critical to have a full glass of water with it. In fact, no matter which variety you have, you should drink plenty of water throughout the day as soluble fiber works best when you're well-hydrated. While you do not have to take any type of Metamucil with food, the manufacturer recommends taking it with meals to help you remember and evenly divide your doses.
For optimal cholesterol-lowering benefits, take three servings of Metamucil daily. A serving includes 1 tablespoon of powder, two wafers or two to six capsules. If you're taking the Metamucil capsules that contain calcium, you can have up to four servings a day, with one serving being two to five capsules. A single dose provides roughly 2 to 3 grams of soluble fiber. Your goal is to get 7 grams of soluble fiber daily to improve your cholesterol. Don't start out with the full recommendation, however. You'll need to work your way up to this amount to minimize digestive side effects.
Diving in headfirst to a new fiber supplement regimen can leave you bloated, gassy or backed up, or it can possibly give you diarrhea. Start with half a dose, just once a day for several days. If it doesn't bother you, add a second half dose later on for a few more days. Gradually work your way up to the full amount recommended to help improve your cholesterol levels. Lastly, before figuring out the right dose and treating yourself on your own, get your doctor's approval for using Metamucil for lowering cholesterol.