Cholesterol has a bad reputation because it is associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. However, it has many functions in the body, several of which are good! Cholesterol is a fat soluble substance found in several tissues in our bodies. It is needed in order for us to make bile acids (a substance for digesting fats), vitamin D, hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone), cortisol for handling stress, and a vast majority of our brain is cholesterol so it is necessary for brain function. Cholesterol is also the bodies’ natural flexible and protective bandage for internal wounds, especially in our blood vessels.
Elevated cholesterol can be a natural and healthy response!?!
Since our cholesterol is necessary to make several substances, including hormones, levels will naturally fluctuate depending on what our bodies need. For example, it is natural for women to experience elevated cholesterol levels as they go through menopause because the production of hormones from their ovaries declines, making it necessary for the adrenal glands to make it. This requires more cholesterol, and since the need increases, so do the blood levels.
Low levels of cholesterol can actually be detrimental to our health!?!
If our cholesterol falls around or below 150, our bodies do not function very well. If an individual is not taking cholesterol lowering medication, this may be a sign of fat mal-digestion and fat mal-absorption. This indicates the need for digestive enzymes to support this process. If an individual is on cholesterol lowering medication, this is happening from the medication and the dosage may need to be adjusted. Because our bodies need cholesterol to make vital substances (such as bile acids, hormones, cortisol, etc), and it is needed for brain function, too little cholesterol can be the foundational cause of hormone imbalance, poor stress handling responses and a decline in cognitive function and memory.
What to do?
Cholesterol is an essential substance for our bodies to function optimally. If you have not had your levels checked, I suggest you consider having it done. Feel free to contact me if you have questions or are interested in having your cholesterol levels checked and/or assessed. Other labs may also be beneficial for your health and I would be happy to discuss these with you, along with an individualized plan for optimal health so you can feel your best!