Your blood work came back normal but you still feel like crap?
Why low cholesterol is not as healthy as you were led to believe.
You go to see the doctor because you have been feeling depressed, or have anxiety, aggression, low sex drive, memory issues, fatigue or you basically just don’t feel like yourself.
It can be good news to hear that your blood work is normal but yet a sinking feeling because you still don’t know why you are feeling the way you are.
Today I am only going to address one marker on your blood work that may be affecting your mood, physical and mental health. And this one may surprise you!
Cholesterol: Why low cholesterol is not as good for your health as your think
Note: in this blog I am only addressing total cholesterol.
Many people have low cholesterol either through diet or via medication. This may seem like a great thing-your doctor tells you this is great. You eat low fat food products, limit the amount of meats, butter and eggs you consume and think you are doing all the right things however if this is the case why don’t you feel well?
Yes, I said low cholesterol not elevated-I know you strive to get your numbers low but I am going to provide you with some information as to why you don’t want your numbers too low for overall health and wellbeing.
What do I mean by low? Anything below 160 mg/dl is considered too low based on research and studies. I however think that even this can be too low for some and some may benefit from being in the 180-200 range. (Some studies show that cholesterol levels above 200 mg/dl are beneficial for some age groups) But studies link cholesterol below 160 mg/dl with depression, aggression, premature aging, anxiety and low sex drive.
How can low cholesterol have this effect on your body?
Before I go on to tell you why you DON’T want low cholesterol I want to also recommend a book that can give you more information on cholesterol, cholesterol medications and much more. It is “The Great Cholesterol Myth” by J. Bowden and F. Sinatra. This book however will focus more on the issue of heart disease which is not being addressed in this article.
Here’s the thing-you need cholesterol for healthy brain function so stop trying to get it down so low Cholesterol is needed to make brain cells! Yes, you need cholesterol; it is not your enemy.
For instance, you need cholesterol to make your vitamin D. This is extremely important. Vitamin D is actually a hormone, not a vitamin and it is made from cholesterol in the body. So having low cholesterol may contribute to low D status. Low D is also linked to depression so if you are also on a statin, this can contribute to low D status and thus contribute to feelings of depression. Vitamin D3 supplementation is cheap-just be sure to take it with a meal that contains fat in order to get the greatest absorption rate.
Cholesterol is not just found in your bloodstream. Cholesterol is present in every cell in your body where it helps to produce cell membranes, hormones, vitamin D and bile acids to help you digest your fats. It will improve the absorption of vitamins A, D, K and E. It strengthens your cell walls. It is vital for immune function. It is also important for neurological function, which is why low cholesterol is linked to memory loss.
Think about this: if your cholesterol is too low you will have difficulty making your hormones. Low hormone levels can be associated with numerous physical and mental health issues. Cholesterol is the building block for steroid hormones. I think this is so important! You cannot make estrogen, testosterone, cortisone and other vital hormones without cholesterol!
Your liver also needs to be functioning well in order for optimal cholesterol production. So as you can see, each health issue should not be treated as a separate entity but instead look at the body as everything is connected.
Again, having too low of levels of cholesterol in your body can increase your risk of suicide, depression, aggression, cancer and even Parkinson’s disease. Yes, it can do all that! Cholesterol is there to help you not kill you!
It is not the cholesterol per say that can be harmful for your body but is only detrimental when it is oxidized and contributes to inflammation. So for this reason, eat cholesterol rich foods such as organic grass fed meats and poultry, shellfish, fish, raw dairy, grass fed butter and pasture raised eggs and instead avoid the foods that will contribute to inflammation such as oxidized oils and highly processed simple carbs and high sugary foods. This means avoid breads, donuts, pastries, cookies and so forth. Cook with healthy fats such as coconut oil and tea seed oil and avoid vegetable, corn and safflower oils which will contribute to inflammation.
Enjoy foods in their natural state and reduce the amount of sugar in your diet instead of fearing cholesterol.
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This information is for educational purposes only. Always seek out the care of your health professional.
Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition (candidate), author of the E book Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC believes in food first when addressing the root causes to your health conditions. For more information, visit her website at www.trufoodsnutrition.com
Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Therapeutic Nutrition. CA: Bauman College
Bowden, J. & Sinatra, F. (2012) The Great Cholesterol Myth. MA: Fair winds press.
Ji, S. (9/5/12) How low cholesterol can harm your health. Retrieved from greenmedinfo.com
Mercola, J. (11/17/11) The Cholesterol Myth that could be harming your health. Retrieved from huffingtonpost.com
Mercola, J. (7/15/08) Why low cholesterol is not good for you. Retrieved from articles.mercola.com