Why you actually need cholesterol

Why you actually need cholesterol

Cholesterol is actually one of the most important substances the body needs. It is a precursor for all male and female sex hormones and adrenal hormones, such as cortisol.

Cholesterol is actually one of the most important substances the body needs. It is a precursor for all male and female sex hormones and adrenal hormones, such as cortisol.

by Dr. Paul Stallone — 

There is much more to cholesterol than one might think. Most people are aware of the different forms of cholesterol. High levels of the bad type mean prescriptions and diet restrictions, while elevated good levels generally mean no changes. This may sum up what most know about cholesterol; however, it is more complicated than that.

Cholesterol is actually one of the most important substances the body needs. It is a precursor for all male and female sex hormones and adrenal hormones, such as cortisol. Every cell membrane of the body requires cholesterol for stability. The human body would simply not function without it.

So, cholesterol is not bad, but the way it is transported throughout the body can be. Lipoproteins carry cholesterol to different parts of the body, and it is the lipoproteins that can clog arteries and cause other harm. Lipoproteins are responsible for the bad levels, known as LDL, and the good levels, known as HDL.

The reason LDL can cause concern is these particles can oxidize in the bloodstream and inflame blood vessels. Even with the potential to cause damage, the body still needs this so-called bad form of cholesterol. The good version of cholesterol, HDL, is cholesterol transported by lipoproteins to good places like the liver, which synthesizes it into the hormone pregnenolone.

As with all things, too much of a good thing can lead to negative results. Too much HDL can actually impact autoimmune processes.

One of the more common methods used to treat bad cholesterol is with the class of medications called statins. Statin drugs block the liver enzyme responsible for producing cholesterol, which can have positive effects. But problems can also occur with this method of lowering cholesterol.

First, there is an undeniable need for cholesterol, and manipulating it can negatively affect the rest of the body. Second, the very common side effects of these drugs can lead to serious health concerns. Problems like liver complications, muscle pain, memory loss, sexual dysfunction and loss of physical strength are all well-documented side effects caused by statins.

As the function of cholesterol is more clearly understood, the need for more extensive testing has become apparent. Just checking LDL and HDL levels does not provide enough information to fully understand a person’s individual risk. Specialized tests are available to look at everything from a genetic risk to the different size particles of LDL and HDL.

Looking at the amount of lipoproteins and their size can show that someone with normal cholesterol numbers can still be at risk for serious complications like a heart attack. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, 50 percent of heart attack victims had normal cholesterol levels.

Those with a true need for cholesterol treatment have options besides the conventional statins. After assessing the individual, a physician can dispense supplements to naturally balance cholesterol levels. Intravenous treatments may help address plaque in arteries and may help address any damage caused.

Treatment should be monitored by an experienced physician so that certain levels of cholesterol are maintained to preserve hormone production. Cholesterol may be complicated for some, but with the right information and physician, preventing complications is not.

 

Paul Stallone, N.M.D., founded the Arizona Integrative Medical Center, located in Scottsdale, Ariz. He combines natural, alternative and conventional treatments to best fit each patient’s needs. drstallone.com or 480-214-3922.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 34, Number 6, December 2015/January 2016.

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