Cholesterol levels and more about it

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Cholesterol Overview

Since cholesterol is essential for all animal life, it is primarily synthesized from simpler substances within the body. However high levels in blood circulation, depending on how transported within lipoproteins, are strongly associated with progression of atherosclerosis. For a person of about 68 kg (150 pounds), typical total body cholesterol synthesis is about 1 g (1,000 mg) per day, and total body content is about 35 g. Typical daily additional dietary intake, in the United States and societies with similar dietary patterns, is 200–300 mg. The body compensates for cholesterol intake by reducing the amount synthesized.

Cholesterol is recycled. It is excreted by the liver via the bile into the digestive tract. Typically about 50% of the excreted cholesterol is reabsorbed by the small bowel back into the bloodstream. Intestinal tract absorption is highly selective for cholesterol, excreting plant stanols and sterols (which promote atherosclerosis progression more than cholesterol), back into the intestinal lumen for elimination.

Cholesterol is required to build and maintain membranes; it regulates membrane fluidity over the range of physiological temperatures. The hydroxyl group on cholesterol interacts with the polar head groups of the membrane phospholipids and sphingolipids, while the bulky steroid and the hydrocarbon chain are embedded in the membrane, alongside the nonpolar fatty acid chain of the other lipids. In this structural role, cholesterol reduces the permeability of the plasma membrane to protons (positive hydrogen ions) and sodium ions.

Within the cell membrane, cholesterol also functions in intracellular transport, cell signaling and nerve conduction. Cholesterol is essential for the structure and function of invaginated caveolae and clathrin-coated pits, including caveola-dependent and clathrin-dependent endocytosis. The role of cholesterol in such endocytosis can be investigated by using methyl beta cyclodextrin (MβCD) to remove cholesterol from the plasma membrane. Recently, cholesterol has also been implicated in cell signaling processes, assisting in the formation of lipid rafts in the plasma membrane. In many neurons, a myelin sheath, rich in cholesterol, since it is derived from compacted layers of Schwann cell membrane, provides insulation for more efficient conduction of impulses.

Within cells, cholesterol is the precursor molecule in several biochemical pathways. In the liver, cholesterol is converted to bile, which is then stored in the gallbladder. Bile contains bile salts, which solubilize fats in the digestive tract and aid in the intestinal absorption of fat molecules as well as the fat-soluble vitamins, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K. Cholesterol is an important precursor molecule for the synthesis of Vitamin D and the steroid hormones, including the adrenal gland hormones cortisol and aldosterone as well as the sex hormones progesterone, estrogens, and testosterone, and their derivatives.Some research indicates that cholesterol may act as an antioxidant. The good HDL cholesterol, the one which is found in Policosanol. Statins, like lipitor, crestor and zocor only lower the bad cholesterol levels and come with significant health risks including depletion of CoQ10, and liver and kidney complications and disease; the heart depends on CoQ10 for proper functionality.

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