High Cholesterol & the Effects on the Body
Cholesterol is a very critical biological
molecule that plays an important part in cell membrane structure, and is a
precursor for the synthesis of the steroid hormones and bile acids.
Cholesterol in the body comes from two sources, including dietary
cholesterol and cholesterol that is synthesized within the body itself.
All cholesterol is transported through blood circulation in lipoprotein
It is essential to the body’s functioning that the synthesis and body’s
utilization of cholesterol be properly regulated, so as to prevent an over
accumulation from developing, leading to an unhealthy deposition within
the body. Most important is the prevention of an unhealthy deposition of
cholesterol and cholesterol rich lipoproteins in the coronary arteries.
High levels of such cholesterol lead to atherosclerosis – meaning the
buildup of fats in the arteries, preventing the free flow of blood.
Atherosclerosis is the leading contributor to heart disease.
Cholesterol and the Liver
Good cholesterol, also called high density lipoprotein (HDL), help to
prevent the development of atherosclerosis by removing cholesterol from
the walls of the arteries, and disposing of them through the liver. For
this reason, high levels of HDL are desirable.
Bad cholesterol, also referred to as low density lipoprotein (LDL), is
manufactured and secreted by the liver into the blood. As well, the liver
acts to remove LDL cholesterol from the blood by using LDL receptors,
special proteins that exist on the liver’s surface. As a result, a high
amount of LDL receptors on the liver can account for high levels of LDL
cholesterol in the blood.
Just less than half of the cholesterol in the body derives from
biosynthesis within the body. Biosynthesis of cholesterol in the liver
accounts for approximately 10% daily, and approximately 15% daily in the
Cholesterol and Dietary Intake
High LDL cholesterol levels can be profoundly impacted by decreased
consumption of animal products. It is for this reason that those fighting
high cholesterol are advised to limit their intake of eggs. Eggs, cheese,
meats, fish and poultry are all high in saturated fats, and increase blood
levels of LDL cholesterol.
Healthy adults consume approximately 0.3 grams of cholesterol per day, and
synthesize cholesterol at a rate of approximately 1 gram per day. A
relatively constant level of cholesterol in the body (150 – 200 mg/dL) is
maintained, for the most part, by the regulation of cholesterol
manufactured by the body. However, cholesterol synthesis is impacted by
dietary intake of cholesterol.
Dietary cholesterol is transported from the small intestine to the liver,
where it is synthesized. However, too much dietary cholesterol consumed
overextends the body’s ability to synthesize and use it, and this excess
is transported in the bloods within LDLs (bad cholesterol). This is the
primary cause of what is often referred to as “high cholesterol”.
Cholesterol, a vital part of body functioning, must be very tightly
regulated by the body to maintain optimal functioning. This regulation is
complex, and likely depends on a number of variables. For this reason,
treating high cholesterol usually involves many facets, including
medication, dietary changes and increased physical activity.</span>