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What is beta-sitosterol? Why do we need it?

Beta-sitosterol is one of a group of organic compounds found in both plants and animals called sterols. It is not considered an essential nutrient.

Studies have shown that beta-sitosterol is effective in reducing the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia, a precursor to prostate disease. Beta-sitosterol, either alone or in conjunction with other plant sterols, also appears to block the absorption of cholesterol, making it an effective supplement in helping to reduce blood cholesterol levels. Some athletes also take beta-sitosterol and other sterols to enhance athletic performance and reduce the risk of infection.

How much beta-sitosterol should I take?

The amount of beta-sitosterol to be taken depends on the condition being treated. Most clinical trials of the supplement in treating blood cholesterol have used daily levels ranging from 500 milligrams to 10 grams. Some studies have shown that daily doses of 60 to 130 milligrams can reportedly reduce the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia.

What forms of beta-sitosterol are available?

High levels of beta-sitosterol are found in rice bran, wheat germ, corn oils, soybeans and peanuts. Beta-sitosterol is sold in capsule, tablet and powder form.

What can happen if I take too much beta-sitosterol? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?

As of this writing, there are no known side-effects from taking large amounts of beta-sitosterol, nor are there any well-known drug interactions. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking beta-sitosterol or any other dietary supplement or herbal remedy.


  • Awad AB, Chan KC, Downie AC, Fink CS. Peanuts as a source of beta-sitosterol, a sterol with anticancer properties. Nutr Cancer 2000;36:238-41.
  • Berges RR, Windeler J, Trampisch HJ, et al. Randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial of beta-sitosterol in patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia. Lancet 1995;345:1529-32.
  • Bouic PJD, Clark A, Lamprecht J, et al. The effect of B-sitosterol (BSS) and B-sitosterol glucoside (BSSG) mixture on selected immune parameters of marathon runners: Inhibition of post marathon immune suppression and inflammation. Int J Sports Med 1999;20:258-62.
  • Klippel KF, Hiltl DM, Schipp B. A multicentric, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial of beta-sitosterol (phytosterol) for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Br J Urol 1997;80:427-32.
  • Pelletier X, Belbraouet S, Mirabel D, et al. A diet moderately enriched in phytosterols lowers plasma cholesterol concentrations in normocholesterolemic humans. Ann Nutr Metab 1995;39:291-5.
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