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The Importance of Cholesterol

Cholesterol:

• makes the cells in our body waterproof.
This is necessary because there is a different series of reactions taking place inside and outside the cell. If there is not enough of this water insoluble alcohol in the cell membrane cells become leaky. Nerve and muscle tissue cannot work correctly.
• is important in the development of memory.
• is necessary for the uptake of hormones in the brain. Serotonin, the body’s feel good chemical, does not work properly when cholesterol levels drop too low.
• is the main organic molecule in the brain, making up half the dry weight of the brain.

Nerve signals can't travel from one cell to the next across a synapse if cholesterol levels are too low because synapses are made of cholesterol.

This is only a small part of the knowledge about cholesterol. You might never believe this if your only information comes from TV ads. But there is a great deal of difference between TV ads, detail people, and the body's requirements for cholesterol.

You may scroll down to the paragraph heading "Additional Needs For Cholesterol In The Body"

Because of the contrast to what's on TV and the well known requirements for cholesterol in the body we can ask:

Is Cholesterol Good or Bad, the Body’s Mr. Fix-It, or Miscreant, Trouble Maker?

Is cholesterol what the body needs? Or is it a marker of problems because in most of us it is too high?

One group says this water insoluble compound in the human body has too many functions to be regarded as a health threat. Can a substance necessary for life be a problem?

Additional Needs For Cholesterol In The Body

The first paragraph above, which stated some of the requirements of cholesterol, was a good start, but there is much more.

Cholesterol also:
• functions as a powerful antioxidant, protecting us against cancer and aging.
• is a precursor to Vitamin D, which is the mediator of mineral metabolism. Vitamin D is a fat soluble activator, which needs animal fat to do its job in the cell. It has many roles including a possible inhibition of some cancers.
• is a precursor to hormones of the adrenal cortex. These hormones regulate blood sugar levels, and mineral use in the body.

And still more.

Cholesterol
• is a precursor to the sex hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
• is a precursor to the bile salts.
Bile is vital for the digestion and assimilation of dietary fats. A low fat diet may cause problems with the production of bile.

A Case History of Low Cholesterol

Pediatricians at the University of California at San Diego described a child that could not synthesize cholesterol. His cholesterol blood level was reported to be 70-79 mg/dl, which is very low.

The child was mentally retarded, had a very small head for his age, was profoundly anemic, could not maintain proper blood acidity, had frequent fevers, and cataracts. He died at age 24 months. Because the child's cholesterol levels were too low, many body functions could not operate.

This is a practical illustration of the importance of cholesterol in the human body.

Prominent Saturated Fat-Cholesterol Heart Disease Proponents

With effects on so many body processes I find it difficult to believe that lowering cholesterol is the target of so many individuals and organizations. Including our federal government.

The American Heart Association in its scientific position has one sentence on the importance of cholesterol in the body. It then says a high cholesterol level is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute says our cholesterol levels have a lot to do with our chances of getting heart disease. The Institute says the desirable total cholesterol level should be less than 200 mg/dL.

While it is true that high cholesterol may be a slight risk factor for heart disease, high cholesterol is one of several effects resulting from an unhealthy diet. It is not a cause of heart disease, or heart disease death.

No Evidence To Support Cholesterol-Saturated Fat Cause of Heart Disease

According to Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD, there is no evidence to support the saturated fat-cholesterol cause of heart disease. Ravnskov maintains that data has been unreasonably manipulated or ignored to produce the ‘right’ story.

He came to this conclusion by wading through the immense volume of scientific literature cited by the saturated fat-cholesterol heart disease adherents. The details are given in his book The Cholesterol Myths.

Malcolm Kendrick, a Scottish M.D., obtained data from the MONICA study of cardiac risk factors in a number countries. In one data set cholesterol was not listed as a risk factor. In another data set, saturated fat protected against death from cardiovascular diseases. This data included 16 countries, 8 countries that had the lowest level of ingested saturated fat, and 8 countries that had the highest levels of ingested saturated fat.

I am glad to hear that the American Heart Association’s definition of high cholesterol may not be right. As a senior citizen, I might wonder if my cholesterol levels were high enough. It has been shown that normal older people who have the highest cholesterol live the longest.

Some of the above information came from an article entitled The Dangers of Statin Drugs: What You Haven’t Been Told About Cholesterol Lowering Medication, Part 1 By Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, PhD. The article was originally printed at the Weston A. Price Foundation website.

Read the actual conclusions on heart disease death and cancer. Included is the original essay showing that saturated fat protects against heart disease. A new window will open

Arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis development may help understand why cholesterol can't be a health threat. A new window will open.

How do fats and carbohydrates affect blood cholesterol? A new window will open.

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