Exclusive: Statins: How They Work on Cholesterol and Side Effects

Sunday 9 June 2019

About 75-80% of the cholesterol in our body is produced by our own liver. Only 20-25% come from our food intake. The liver also produces triglycerides. If these readings are high, doctors will prescribe medicine. But if having high cholesterol level is such a bad thing, why does your body produce it in the first place?

Why does your liver produce so much cholesterol?

Because cholesterol is needed for many important functions in our body.

(i) It is an important building block for body tissues and cell membranes. It helps form the outer layer of cells.

(ii) It is needed to synthesise vitamin D. We need cholesterol in our skin cells to make vitamin D from sunlight. If you don't have sufficient vitamin D, the calcium consumed will not be absorbed and utilised by the body. Calcium may also become calcified, and arteries around the heart will be hardened.

(iii) It is needed for endocrine system (hormone production system). The ingredient to manufacture hormones is cholesterol. Imbalance of oestrogen and progesterone can cause cysts, fibroids and endometriosis. Cortisol hormones are produced by adrenal glands when one is stressed, to help relieve the stress. But over-production of cortisol create disruption to body eg. increased blood sugar level and digestive problems.

(iv) It is needed for nervous system. The brain stores up to 20% of total body cholesterol because it's needed to transmit messages. If you don't have sufficient cholesterol, the message transmission process slows down, leading to Alzheimer and Parkinson disease. Excess cholesterol blocks blood vessels and can increase the risk of stroke.


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