What is VLDL cholesterol? Can it be harmful or not?
VLDL, or very-low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, is produced in the liver and released into the bloodstream to supply the body’s tissues with a particular type of fat (triglycerides).
There are several types of cholesterol, each composed of lipoproteins and fats. Each type of lipoprotein contains a mixture of cholesterol, protein, and triglycerides but in varying amounts. Approximately half of a VLDL particle is formed by triglycerides.
High levels of VLDL cholesterol have been associated with the development of plaque deposits in the arterial walls, narrowing the passage and restricting blood flow. There is no direct way to measure VLDL cholesterol, so it is not usually mentioned during the routine screening for cholesterol.
VLDL cholesterol is generally estimated as a percentage of the value of triglycerides. A high level of VLDL cholesterol is higher than 30 milligrams per deciliter (0.77 millimoles/liter).
The best way to lower your VLDL cholesterol is to reduce your triglycerides. Weight loss and regular exercise are essential, and you may also want to avoid sugary foods and alcohol in particular. Medications prescribed by a health professional can also help.
The difference between VLDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol
VLDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol carry fats such as cholesterol and triglycerides through your bloodstream. Both are associated with “bad” or harmful types of cholesterol. VLDL cholesterol contains more triglycerides than LDL, while LDL carries more cholesterol.
Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL) are two different lipoproteins found in the blood. Lipoproteins are particles composed of proteins and various types of fat. They carry cholesterol and triglycerides through their bloodstream.
Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is necessary to build cells. It is created in the liver from the fats obtained in your diet.
Triglycerides are another type of fat used to store extra energy in your cells. The main difference between VLDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol is that they have different percentages of cholesterol, proteins, and triglycerides that make up each lipoprotein.
Even when your body needs cholesterol and triglycerides to function, having too much of them can cause them to build up in the arteries. This can increase the risk of heart disease or stroke.
Origin and components of VLDL cholesterol
VLDL cholesterol is created in the liver to transport triglycerides throughout the body. It consists of the following components:
- Cholesterol 10%
- Triglycerides 70%
- 10% protein
- Other fats 10%
Triglycerides transported by VLDL cholesterol are used by cells in the body for energy. Eating more fat than you can burn can lead to excessive triglycerides and high levels of VLDL cholesterol in the blood.
Other triglycerides are stored in the fat cells and released at a later time when energy is needed.
The high levels of triglycerides are related to the accumulation of hard deposits in the arteries and are commonly called plaque. Although the exact relationship is unclear, having a high triglyceride level increases your heart disease and stroke risk. It is also associated with a condition called metabolic syndrome.
According to studies, a VLDL cholesterol level greater than 30 milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dl) is considered high. Any lower level is deemed to be expected. Most people with high VLDL cholesterol have some cardiovascular disease.
Another Definition of LDL cholesterol
Sometimes, part of the VLDL cholesterol will clear up in the bloodstream. The rest is transformed into LDL cholesterol. LDL cholesterol has fewer triglycerides and a higher percentage of cholesterol than VLDL. LDL cholesterol is mainly composed of the following components:
- Cholesterol 26%
- Triglycerides 10%
- Proteins 25%
- Other fats 15%
LDL cholesterol transports cholesterol through your body. Having too much cholesterol in your body can lead to serious health complications.
High levels of LDL cholesterol are associated with plaque buildup in the arteries. These deposits can eventually lead to atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis occurs when plaque deposits harden and narrow the street. This increases the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
According to the National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute, the following are the acceptable, limited, and high measures of LDL cholesterol for adults. LDL cholesterol levels are expressed in milligrams of lipoproteins per deciliter of blood (mg / dL):
Good Level: Less than 100 mg / dL
Limit Level: 130 to 159 mg / dL
High Level: 160 mg / dL or higher
The best measure for LDL cholesterol is below 100 mg / dL. The doctor will probably suggest changes in your diet and exercise routine when your levels reach 130 to 159 mg / dL.
If your LDL cholesterol level reaches 160 mg / dL or more, your doctor may recommend you start taking statins. Statins are medications that lower cholesterol levels.
VLDL cholesterol tests
There is no specific test to measure VLDL cholesterol. VLDL cholesterol is usually calculated based on your triglyceride level. Triglycerides are also generally tested on a cholesterol test.
However, many doctors do not do the calculations to find your estimated level of VLDL cholesterol unless you have other risk factors for cardiovascular disease or specifically ask for it.