Most of us have heard how dangerous high cholesterol can be for our health. What you may not know, however, is that it is also possible to have cholesterol levels that are too low. Our bodies need a certain amount of cholesterol to operate properly, so it is good to know what the signs of low cholesterol are if we are to stay healthy.
Why Do Our Bodies Need Cholesterol?
Cholesterol plays a very important role in our bodies. Although too much of it can cause a plaque to build up and clog our arteries, without it you would not be able to survive.
Cholesterol is a key component in the membranes of our cells, and makes up a good portion of our brain tissue. It also helps form our nerve synapses, which are fundamental to our sense of touch and communication between all the different parts of our bodies. In addition to all of these vital functions, cholesterol also helps form hormones, digestive juices, and vitamin D.
As you can imagine, not having enough of this important molecule can be hazardous to a person's health. Low levels are believed to increase a person's risk of cancer, depression, and anxiety. In pregnant women, a low level may result in preterm births or low birth weights. It is true that these risks are rare, but they are serious enough to warrant concern.
How Do I Know if I Have Low Levels?
There are a few signs of low cholesterol, but they are not very common. Just as with determining high cholesterol, the only way to know for sure that your cholesterol is too low is through having a blood test.
One sign is increased depression or anxiety, but this symptom can be a result of a number of different factors and is not in any way a sure sign of low cholesterol.
One specific form of low cholesterol called Tangier Disease has symptoms that include orangish-yellow tonsils, an enlarged liver, and an enlarged spleen, but you can have low cholesterol without exhibiting these symptoms. In fact, most people who have low cholesterol display no signs at all, which is why it is important to get your blood checked.
What Should I Do If I Have Low Cholesterol?
It is possible for a person to have low cholesterol without ever experiencing any health problems, but if your levels fall below 160 mg / dL, it would be a good idea to play it safe and try to raise your cholesterol. The easiest way to do this is through increasing your consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are mainly found in oily fish. Omega-3 can also be bought as a supplement at your local vitamin / health store.
You do not want to wait until it is too late to do something about your dangerous cholesterol levels, but there are no clear signs of low cholesterol or high cholesterol. For this reason, you should make sure to check your cholesterol levels through a blood test at least once every five years. Cholesterol levels are easy to change, but you can not do anything about them if you do not know there is anything wrong with them!