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Cholesterol - advantages and disadvantages

Cholesterol is one of the most essential substances in the human body. It is synthesized by the liver and it can also be gotten by eating certain foods but there is a limitation. Namely, as it is the case with all the substances we take into our body, high amounts of cholesterol has certain side effects. If the levels of cholesterol are increased (especially if this lasts for longer period of time) a person may develop serious medical conditions.

Advantages of Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a substance essential for the membrane of all the cells in the body. It provides cellular strength and rigidity. The very presence of cholesterol as a part of the membrane allows its proper functioning.

Another advantage of cholesterol is the increase of vitamin D. Cholesterol stimulates the production of vitamin D and is essential for maintaining optimal levels of this fat-soluble vitamin. Vitamin D is important to our body so without cholesterol its production would be reduced.

Cholesterol is also necessary for proper production of steroid hormones and bile acids. One more beneficial effect of cholesterol is its protective effect against harmful sun rays. Even if the damage has already been done (scars and burn injuries caused by exposure to sun) cholesterol can assist in healing. And finally, one more positive characteristic of cholesterol is in transport of vitamins A and E.

Disadvantages of Cholesterol

Cholesterol is transported in the blood with the assistance of specific lipoproteins. There are two major types of lipoproteins, low density lipoproteins and high density lipoproteins.

Low density lipoproteins (LDL) transport cholesterol from the liver to the exact site where it is going to be utilized. If there is excess of LDL cholesterol it may initiate the process of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis narrows the area where blood flows through the vessels. This reduces the supply with the blood and is a perfect place for clot formation. So if there is too much of LDL cholesterol it can lead to an illness which carries significant number of complications. On the other side, high density lipoproteins transfer cholesterol back to the liver and they help in its excretion. This is why HDL cholesterol is actually good.

To sum up, increased in LDL cholesterol is considered very harmful and carries a risk of many serious medical conditions which may eventually cause lethal outcome. This is the most important disadvantage of the cholesterol in the body. So by performing a blood test a level of these two cholesterols are measured and if there is increase in LDL a person is first advised to make dietary changes and if this measure is not effective enough he/ she may also be prescribed certain medications.

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