Fish Oil And Cholesterol

What Is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fat-like, waxy substance found in all cells of your body.

Your body needs cholesterol to make hormones, vitamin D, and substances that help you digest foods.

Although your body makes all the cholesterol it needs, we take in additional cholesterol in the food we eat. That’s where the problems come in.

Cholesterol is carried in the blood by combined molecules called lipoproteins which consist of a lipid (fat) on the inside and a protein on the outside. The two main types of lipoprotein are:

Fish Oil And Cholesterol

  • LDL (low density lipoprotein) – These days, LDL is commonly referred to, even by physicians, as “bad cholesterol.” LDL carries cholesterol from the liver to cells. If too much for the cells to use is carried, there can be a harmful buildup of LDL which can lead to serious problems.
  • HDL (high density lipoprotein) – This is what we call “good cholesterol.” HDL does the opposite of LDL – HDL takes the cholesterol away from the cells and back to the liver where it is either broken down or expelled from the body as waste.

What are the functions of cholesterol?

Cholesterol is necessary because it is involved in these processes:

  • Building and maintaining the outer layer of cell membranes.
  • Determining which molecules can pass into the cell and which cannot (cell membrane permeability).
  • Production of sex hormones (androgens and estrogens)
  • Production of hormones released by the adrenal glands (cortisol, corticosterone, aldosterone, and others)
  • Production of bile
  • Converting sunshine to vitamin D
  • Metabolism of fat soluble vitamins, including vitamins A, D, E, and K
  • Insulating nerve fibers

What Causes High Cholesterol?

Some of the factors that can lead to high cholesterol are:

  • Excess weight — Being overweight is directly linked to increased cholesterol.
  • Heredity — Unfortunately, a family history of heart of cholesterol problems puts you at higher risk for having high cholesterol.
  • Diet — Foods that can increase your cholesterol are those that are high in cholesterol, saturated fat, and trans fat. Think: fast food.
  • Age — The risk of high cholesterol increases as you get older.

What Problems Result From High Cholesterol?

High blood cholesterol (Hypercholesterolemia or, alternatively, Hyperlipidemia) is a condition in which you have too much cholesterol in your blood.

Here’s the alarming part: By itself, the condition usually has no signs or symptoms. Thus, many people don’t know when their cholesterol levels are too high.

And that’s a huge problem because people who have high blood cholesterol have a greater chance of getting coronary heart disease.

Here’s what you have to remember: The higher your LDL, the GREATER your chance is of getting heart disease. On the other hand, the higher your HDL, the LOWER your chance is of getting heart disease.

Coronary heart disease is a condition in which plaque builds up inside the coronary (heart) arteries. Over time, plaque hardens and narrows your coronary arteries. This limits the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle. If the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle is reduced or blocked, angina or a heart attack may occur.

Angina is chest pain or discomfort. It may feel like pressure or squeezing in your chest. The pain also may occur in your shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back. Angina pain may even feel like indigestion.

A heart attack (myocardial infarction) occurs if the flow of oxygen-rich blood to a section of heart muscle suddenly becomes blocked.

Plaque also can build up in other arteries in your body, such as the arteries that bring oxygen-rich blood to your brain and limbs. This can lead to problems such as carotid artery disease, stroke, and peripheral arterial disease (P.A.D.).

When Is Your Cholesterol Too High?

How do you know if your cholesterol is too high?

A simple blood test. A “lipid panel” will tell you your LDL, HDL and triglyceride levels.

Results of your blood test will come in the forms of numbers. Here is how to interpret your cholesterol numbers:

LDL Cholesterol

Less than 100 – Optimal
100 – 129 – Near optimal/above optimal
130 – 159 – Borderline high
160 – 189 – High
190 and above – Very high

If you have heart disease or blood vessel disease, some experts recommend that you should try to get your LDL cholesterol below 70. For people with diabetes or other multiple risk factors for heart disease, the treatment goal is to reach an LDL of less than 100.

HDL Cholesterol

60 and above – High (Optimal)
Less than 40 in men and less than 50 in women – Low (a risk factor for heart disease)

Triglycerides

Less than 150 – Normal
150 – 199 – Borderline high
200 – 499 – High
500 or higher – Very high

Total Cholesterol

Less than 200 – Desirable
200 – 239 – Borderline High
240 and above – High

Does Fish Oil With Omega 3 Reduce Cholesterol?

Studies on this subject are not clear and definitive.

However, the studies that have been done mostly show that Omega 3 increases HDL good cholesterol somewhat and lowers triglycerides significantly.

However, the studies also show that Omega 3 may actually increase the bad LDL cholesterol slightly.

My opinion, based on my research, is that I would not take fish oil with Omega 3 simply to lower my cholesterol. There are too many other treatments that have been shown to be more effective, including lifestyle changes such as doing more aerobic exercise, losing weight and eating less fast food.

However, I would take fish oil with Omega 3 to combat high triglycerides since it has been shown to be very effective for this purpose.

I would also take fish oil capsules – and do take them – for other heart health benefits. It lowers blood pressure somewhat. For people who have had heart attacks, it lowers the risk of death or stroke and lowers the risk of abnormal heart rhythms. It prevents and treats atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

The heart health benefits of Omega 3 are so clear that the American Heart Association is on record saying this: “Omega 3 fatty acids benefit the heart of healthy people, and those at high risk of – or who have – cardiovascular disease.” That’s good enough for me.

The Fish Oil Supplement I Recommend
Xtend-Life Omega 3 DHA Fish Oil