Cholesterol is an organic compound with a hydrophobic tail. Hydrophobic signifying that that it does not like water; this means that it is not soluble in water or in the blood. The molecular formula of cholesterol is C27H46O.Cholesterol contains steroid rings with a hydroxyl group, two methyl groups and a hydrogen tail.
Cholesterol is found in all plants and animals (tutor vista 2012).Cholesterol is essentialfor the body to fully function. The four main functions of cholesterol in the body are:
The manufacture of steroid hormones, the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone in women and testosterone in men. These hormones play a role in reproduction and body development.
It is a primary element of the membrane that surrounds each cell; it is used in both the building and maintenance of cells. It helps to regulates membrane fluidity over the range of body temperatures.
It is used in the production of digestive acids, which are produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder. The liver makes the digestive acids from cholesterol, stores them in the gall bladder and releases them into the small intestine to breakdown and absorbs fats and extracts fat soluble vitamins.
It is used in the manufacture of vitamin D.
Our bodies produce cholesterol so even if our diets are lacking we still have enough of this substance for our body to function. The production of cholesterol is mainly in the liver. The body self regulates the production of cholesterol. When you eat foods high in cholesterol the body produces less. If you can imagine an old balance scale, the balance has to be right. If there is excess cholesterol in the blood it is carried to the liver where it can be filtered out. However if the liver is under stress from other factors such as alcohol the filtration process does not work, leaving the cholesterol to re-circulate throughout the body.
Levels of Cholesterol
Good cholesterol is known as HDL (High Density Lipoprotein). Higher levels of HDL are beneficial for the human body. Ideally, the level of HDL should be 60 mg/dl. HDL level between 40 and 50 mg/dl is considered ideal for men whereas for women, the range should be between 50 and 60 HDL. If the level is under 40 in men or 50 in women, it is considered as high risk HDL levels.
HDL, LDL, triglycerides and atherosclerosis
Lipoproteins enable the transport multiple different fat molecules around the body; including cholesterol. They transport the fat molecules through the water around cells and in the water-based bloodstream. These lipoproteins could be viewed as transport vehicles moving the molecules to where they need to go.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is often called the “bad cholesterol”. If excess levels of LDL are present in the blood. Atherosclerosis can occur in the arteries. Atherosclerosis is the build of substances referred to as plaques. This narrowing of the arteries causes restricted blood flow. This restricted blood flow is the most common reason for a heart attack or ...