Your Liver: What Role Does It Play In Cholesterol Production
Understanding the Importance of Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a soft, fat like waxy substance that is found in the bloodstream and in all body cells. It is used for producing cell membranes and some hormones and serves other needed bodily functions.
Cholesterol is gained into the body by two ways:
- The body: Seventy five percent of blood cholesterol comes from a person's liver and other cells in the body. Body cholesterol is also inherited from other factors such as genes in the family, originating from parents or grandparents. These genes can cause the body to produce too much cholesterol.
- Food: Twenty five percent comes from food. This comes from eating animal products such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, butter, cheese, and whole milk. Plant-based foods, such as fruit, vegetables and cereal do not have cholesterol. Eating saturated fats, trans fats and dietary cholesterol also increases the overall cholesterol amount in the body.
How the Liver Works in Cholesterol Production
Cholesterol is produced by the liver, providing an important function in producing cholesterol for all animals, including humans. Even a strict vegetarian diet will produce around 800-1,500 milligrams of cholesterol a day from the liver, creating bile salts that are necessary for digesting and processing saturated fats and sugars. If the liver did not produce cholesterol, including low cholesterol levels, people could not survive, due to the majority of cholesterol in food comes from animal based foods. Since cholesterol is made in the liver and sent to the blood stream, it is absorbed into the body's cells where it can be used. Any unused cholesterol is sent back to the liver to be recycled or eliminated.
The Importance of High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) Cholesterol
There are two types of lipoproteins (or cholesterol) in the body: Low Density lipoprotein (LDL), or "bad" cholesterol, and High Density Lipoprotein (HDL), which is "good" cholesterol. High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) is the cholesterol that is responsible for picking up excess cholesterol and taking it back to the liver. HDL is responsible for removing all unneeded cholesterol. Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) is the protein that transports cholesterol from the liver into the blood, making it more available for absorption into the cells. LDL brings cholesterol into the blood stream in case it is needed. However, if a person's eating habits cause the constant presence of excess insulin in the system, LDLs are not needed, as the cells are making all the cholesterol they need internally. If this happens, excess cholesterol is in the system that is not needed, which can build up and cause serious health problems.
Statin Treatment for Excess Cholesterol
When there is an excess build up of cholesterol, statins are one common prescription in order to block a substance the liver needs to produce cholesterol, depleting cholesterol in the liver cells. This causes the liver to remove cholesterol from the blood. However, statin drugs can serious side effects, ranging from mild discomfort to elevations in liver enzymes.
Check with a Doctor
Basic lifestyle changes, such as eating healthier, quitting smoking, and increases to physical activity levels can help to keep cholesterol balanced. As with any diagnosis or treatment, it is important to check with a doctor before taking any medicines or doing any major lifestyle changes.