Too Low Cholesterol Is Not Good For Health

We all know high cholesterol is detrimental to good health, especially good cardiovascular health. But many of us may not know that low cholesterol, especially too low cholesterol is also not good for health (one can say that cholesterol is two edged sword and cut on either side, high or low).

High cholesterol is not good and for this reason we all try to avoid high cholesterol containing foods and the good news is that, for majority of individuals body can produce adequate cholesterol on its own, provided the individual consumes right amount of right type of fats (e.g. unsaturated fats, essential fatty acids containing foods). However, trying to avoid all types of fat containing foods may lead to too low cholesterol, which may not be good for good health. Hence, one need to take adequate amount of right types of foods containing right type of fats (foods containing mono unsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids).

Ideally total cholesterol content in blood (serum) should be 125 to 145 mg/dl, desirable level is 146 to 165 mg/dl and acceptable clinically 166 to 199 mg/dl (although some experts say up to 220 or even higher is acceptable, provided good cholesterol HDL or High Density Lipoprotein level is good/normal). Total cholesterol level of below 100 can be said to be too low and not good for health.

Among the cholesterol LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) is known as bad cholesterol, and ideally it should be below 70 mg/dl. Up to 80 mg/dl is desirable and up to 99 mg/dl is acceptable, provided HDL is present in right ratio.

Cholesterol is not bad for body, in fact we must have cholesterol, which is essential. It is the high cholesterol (especially bad cholesterol) and unfavorable LDL: HDL ratio in presence of high cholesterol level is bad. Cholesterol is in fact life essential nutrient, without which survival may not be possible, as body cannot function normally.

Why cholesterol is life essential nutrient and low cholesterol is bad?

Cholesterol is essential for production of various important hormones such as testosterone, estrogen, adrenal gland hormones and production of vitamin D. Cholesterol is also essential component of cell membranes of all animals, including humans. Cholesterol has many more body functions such as support of chemical communication networks between cells, liver uses cholesterol to make bile that help to digest food, cholesterol keeps cells fluid etc.

Brain is rich in cholesterol. In fact, without cholesterol, brain cannot function properly. Low cholesterol in children may lead to medical conditions such as autism.

Important functions of cholesterol are,

  • Production of steroid hormones such as testosterone, estrogen
  • Production of vitamin D, cholesterol supply the skeleton for vitamin D (as well as for testosterone, estrogen)
  • Produce bile acids and specially help in digestion of fats
  • Builds and maintain cell membrane integrity
  • Essential for normal functioning of brain

So, when blood cholesterol is too low, it may produce various health hazards, which are no less serious than cardiovascular problems. Too low cholesterol can produce hyperthyroidism, adrenal insufficiency, liver disease, mal-absorption, autism, and some cancers. Low cholesterol may also be responsible for low libido, low level of vitamin D, fatigue, mood changes etc.

 

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