Yes, you read that correctly: cholesterol is beneficial for your health. No doubt you have heard of the dangers of cholesterol. That notion is a complete sham, backed by shoddy science and underwritten by a multibillion-dollar statin industry.
If you are surprised about that last comment, you can get a peek at what is behind it here: FDA Ramps Up the Great Cholesterol Con. This is important information for everyone. It is also something that most doctors will not tell you about.
The purpose of this article, though, is to focus on the health benefits of cholesterol and importance of cholesterol for good health.
Cholesterol Is a Steroid
Let’s keep the chemistry to a minimum and just say that cholesterol is a type of molecule called a sterol, which is a modified steroid. Your body makes more than 150 kinds of steroid hormones. The ones that you have probably heard about the most are estrogen and testosterone.
In fact, estrogen and testosterone are directly dependent on cholesterol. They are made from it. So are progesterone and cortisol.
All of these are crucially important hormones that have to be in balance with one another for you to achieve optimal health.
One more well-known hormone that depends on cholesterol is vitamin D3. Indeed, the most active and biologically valuable form of vitamin D3, called vitamin D3 sulfate, can only be made from cholesterol in your skin. I will say more about this a little later in this article.
In addition to its role as a precursor to steroid hormones, cholesterol also plays an important role in your cell membranes. Most of the cholesterol in your body occurs in cell membranes, where it helps regulate what goes into and what comes out of cells.
The health benefits of cholesterol are wide and varied. These are just a few of the highlights. The point is that cholesterol is clearly valuable for good health.
Cholesterol and Mortality
Lab tests measure the levels of various substances in your body. However, at the end of the day, what is important is the effect such substances have on your health and mortality. For example, take a look at these comments from a 2013 population survey of the association between cholesterol and mortality (I took the liberty of bolding the standouts):
- All-cause mortality was lower in the groups with TC [total cholesterol] or LDL-C [LDL cholesterol] above the recommended levels.
- …high lipoprotein [i.e., LDL cholesterol] levels do not seem to be definitely harmful in the general population.
Note that this survey included more than 173,000 people, all of whom were at least 50 years old at the beginning of the 10-year study.
These 2013 data confirmed what has been published in several earlier surveys. This is not new information anymore.
What we know now is that elevated cholesterol levels are important for a longer life.
More on Cholesterol and Vitamin D3
Did you know that your skin is loaded with cholesterol? It has an important role there, too. It is the precursor to vitamin D3 sulfate.
Why is that so important? Nearly all of the benefits of vitamin D that you have heard of are attributable to vitamin D3 sulfate. And it can only be made from cholesterol.
By the way, dietary or supplemental vitamin D3 is not the same as vitamin D3 sulfate from cholesterol. Vitamin D3 sulfate goes to every cell in your body. Supplemental vitamin D3 does not. Moreover, we do not convert supplemental vitamin D3 into the sulfated form.
There is no dietary source of vitamin D3 sulfate, except for mother’s milk. Supplemental vitamin D3 sulfate is not available commercially.
A tiny bit of chemistry here: adding a sulfate molecule to the cholesterol that goes into vitamin D3 sulfate requires energy. The only source of energy that makes this reaction work is ultraviolet light, specifically UVB.
UVB light is a component of sunshine.
The bottom line is that vitamin D3 sulfate comes from cholesterol that has been sulfated in your skin in the presence of UVB light. That is your only source of vitamin D3 sulfate.
This process explains observations that began as long ago as 1990 that lower levels of vitamin D3 correspond to a lack of sunshine on the skin. This association extends to explain the increased incidence of various cancers, especially those of the breast and colon.
This bears repeating: making more vitamin D3 sulfate in your skin upon exposure to sunshine reduces your chance of developing or dying from cancer.
That is not the only major health benefit of the cholesterol-vitamin D3-sunshine axis. One other big one is its potential impact on cardiovascular disease.
The development of atherosclerosis, for example, has recently been suggested (2015) to develop from a cholesterol sulfate deficiency syndrome.
Imagine that. Cardiovascular disease may come from too little cholesterol!
Cholesterol to the Rescue
In light of what we now know about the major health benefits of cholesterol, this modified steroid is looking more and more like a savior for fighting some of the biggest health challenges we have in modern times.
Take that message to heart (pardon the pun). Dispense with worrying about your cholesterol levels. You need this molecule to be healthy, period.