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What is Cholesterol?

Contrary to what you may have heard nearly 80% of the cholesterol in your blood stream is made by your own body while the other 20% comes mainly from the food you eat. Your liver is the primary organ responsible for the production cholesterol in your body, although a small amount is made by the lining of the small intestine and the individual cells of the body.

Cholesterol is a soft, waxy, fatty compound that is a type of steroid. It is an important nutrient that is essential in the formation and maintenance of cell membranes, and in the production of the sex hormones progesterone, testosterone, estradiol, and cortisol. It is also used by the body to produce bile salts that are used in the digestive process to break down food. Its last major task is its conversion into vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight.

Because cholesterol is not soluble in water and tends to not mix well with blood the liver packages it with protein and other compounds creating a lipoprotein before it is released into the blood stream. Cholesterol is then transported through the bloodstream in this lipoprotein.

There are three types of lipoproteins created by the liver and these include high-density lipoproteins (HDL), low-density lipoproteins (LDL), and very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL). The type of lipoprotein is determined by how much protein there is in relation to fat content.

Called the "bad" cholesterol, LDL comprises about 70% of the cholesterol that circulates in the bloodstream. It is comprised mostly of fat which then tends to get deposited in the arteries creating plaques. This leads to atherosclerosis, which is a hardening and narrowing of the arteries and a large risk factor for heart disease.

HDL cholesterol is considered the "good" cholesterol because its primary role is to transport LDL's back to the liver where it is disposed of. HDL is comprised of mainly protein and makes up about 20% of the cholesterol in the body. It helps prevent arthrosclerosis by preventing LDL cholesterol from depositing and forming plaques in the arteries.

The best way to control high cholesterol is through lifestyle changes centered on diet, maintaining your proper weight, exercise, and stopping smoking if you smoke.

Now that you know where is cholesterol produced in the body you can see that it is an important part of proper bodily functions. It is also important to know that to much cholesterol is not good either and it is up to you to have your levels checked regularly and keep them under control.

There are many factors which may cause your cholesterol level to be above the target level, however the most common dietary cause is eating too much fat and in particular too much saturated fat.

High intakes of saturated fat can raise bad (LDL) Cholesterol levels. It is found in fatty meat and milk products, butter, cheese, chips, and other snacks.

Things you can change to help lower your Cholesterol:
1. Your weight and shape (an increase in weight tends to increase cholesterol levels).

2. Whether you are physically active (it lowers LDL cholesterol).

3. Whether you are under stress.

4. Whether you eat a healthy diet (especially saturated and trans fats increase cholesterol levels).

5. How much alcohol you drink (a small consumption increases the good HDL cholesterol however more than two standard drinks per day will increase your overall cholesterol).

6. Whether you smoke.

Things you can't change to help lower your Cholesterol:
1. Your gender (men tend to have higher cholesterol levels than women, until menopause when men and women are at equal risk).

2. Your age ( cholesterol levels increase with age).

3. Your ethnicity (some ethnic groups have a higher risk than others).

4. Your family history (if your family is affected by cholesterol then you are likely to be affected by it).

How High Is Too High for Cholesterol Levels?
When speaking about cholesterol levels, we generally mean the total cholesterol level. The recommendation for the general public is to have a total cholesterol level below 5.5 mmol / L. Lower levels are recommended to help maintain heart health.

For people at higher risk of heart problems the Heart Foundation recommends a cholesterol level of less than 4.0mmol/L.

A more accurate risk assessment can be done if - in addition to the total cholesterol level - the different lipid groups are measured in the blood: the 'good' HDL cholesterol the 'bad' LDL cholesterol and the triglycerides. Triglycerides don't contain cholesterol but they may also be a risk to heart health if elevated.

If you are worried that you don't have a healthy diet or have any concerns about your cholesterol level or any aspect of your heart health, your general practitioner, practice nurse, dietitian or pharmacist should always be your first point of contact.

Methods Of Reducing Cholesterol: method that you can use in order to ensure that the cholesterol levels in the body are reduced is to purchase and ingest one multivitamin daily or other alternative medicines that are available at your health store.

These types of vitamins result in a healthy boost to the overall immune system and allow the cells, organs, nerves, and other components of the body to get the nutrition that they need. These vitamins are the basis of a healthy body. If you desire to be healthy, and reduce cholesterol that you currently have, taking a multivitamin that contains all essential nutrients can help you do just that! Before starting a multivitamin, be sure to confirm that you can take it with a medical professional.

You want to be sure that it is safe for you to take these in conjunction with any other medications that you can take. In addition to this, you want to be certain that if you have certain health conditions that the vitamins are safe for you to consume.

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