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This Month In Health
  • How Low Can You Go?
    It’s normal to worry about high cholesterol because you know the dangers—heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. But what about low cholesterol? Many people work for years to bring their levels down to a safe level, but can they lower their cholesterol too far? Read >>
  • Colds Vs. Allergies
    Your nose is running and you feel a bit under the weather. Could you be coming down with a cold or is it just your allergies flaring up? Whether it’s affecting an adult or a child, here are a few ways to determine whether you’re dealing with a cold or allergies. Read >>
  • Zapped, Sapped, and Tapped Out
    Many doctors say fatigue is their patients' number one complaint. Before assuming you have a serious health condition and undergoing a series of tests at the doctor’s office, you may want to try a few home remedies for relieving fatigue. They're simple, pain-free, and may be just what you need to get your energy back. Read >>
  • Diabetes: Catch It While You Can!
    An early diagnosis of prediabetes can set the course for the rest of your life, as making necessary changes to diet and lifestyle can prevent type 2 diabetes from setting in. This is why it’s important to know the warning signs of diabetes and take action while you still have time. Read >>
Health and Fitness News

How Low Can You Go?

Is there such a thing as cholesterol that’s too low?

It’s normal to worry about high cholesterol because you know the dangers—heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. But what about low cholesterol? Many people work for years to bring their levels down to a safe level, but can they lower their cholesterol too far?

Cholesterol is a fatty substance that every cell in the human body needs to function. These days it has a bad rap, but cholesterol is essential for helping your body produce vitamin D, hormones, and energy, and to help digest food. Your liver makes all the cholesterol you need, but problems arise when too much cholesterol circulates in your blood due to the animal foods you eat.

Since some level of cholesterol is needed for health and wellness, your health may actually suffer when there’s not enough of it to go around. Here’s what can happen with extremely low levels of cholesterol.

Depression and Aggression

Multiple studies show a connection between low cholesterol and suicide and violence. Not the effect you thought low cholesterol would have, was it? People with low cholesterol were found to have a two to three greater chance of suicide than the rest of the population. A strong link was also seen between low cholesterol and aggressive, violent behavior.

What’s the connection? Depression and anxiety. People with low cholesterol often have lower levels of serotonin and vitamin D in their bodies. Serotonin is a hormone used to regulate your mood by reducing depression and controlling anxiety and vitamin D is needed for healthy brain cell development.

The connection between cholesterol and mental disorders is unclear. Could it be that low cholesterol causes the condition or that people with mental health conditions eat less and therefore have lower cholesterol? Animal studies suggest a diet low in cholesterol leads to a decrease in serotonin production.
Have depression or anxiety? It may be worth talking with your doctor about whether low cholesterol could play a role.

Other Risks

A second rare health risk of low cholesterol is cancer. Does low cholesterol lead to cancer or is low cholesterol a sign of cancer? These are questions waiting to be answered by further research.

Pregnant women with low cholesterol are more likely to have premature or low birth weight babies. Talk with your doctor about how to monitor this risk.
Additional risks associated with low cholesterol include brain hemorrhage, nervous system dysfunction, and a weakened immune system. Those of you with low cholesterol can take comfort in the fact that the condition rarely results in negative health problems. And while there are potential health issues, low cholesterol is much safer than high cholesterol.

What’s Low?

Cholesterol levels are determined by a simple blood test. Starting at age 20, everyone should have their levels checked every five years. The goal is to keep your LDL (bad) cholesterol under 100 mg/dL. A measurement between 130 and 159 mg/dL is considered borderline high and anything over 160 mg/dL is high. An LDL reading of less than 40 mg/dL or a total cholesterol under 120 mg/dL would be considered very low.

How and Why

How you treat low cholesterol depends on the cause. Sometimes the medications used to reduce cholesterol lower it too far. In this case, your doctor may need to adjust the dosage.

For some individuals, low cholesterol develops from a failure to adequately absorb nutrients from your food, malnutrition, hyperthyroidism, or liver disease. When this happens, vitamin supplements may be needed.
Several rare genetic diseases are also associated with extremely low LDL levels.