While most of us have been advised about the dangers of high cholesterol and the ways to avoid it, there are indeed situations where your cholesterol may be too low. These have to do with specific aspects of your cholesterol profile, rather than your total cholesterol itself. Having suboptimal levels of "good" high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol increases the risk of hypertension and heart disease. And while having too much "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) increases your risk of heart attack and stroke, data suggests an association, but not a causal relationship, between having too little and an increased risk of certain cancers, mood disorders, and cardiovascular diseases.
This last fact often comes as a surprise to many who have been advised to get their LDL down. While scientists are still not certain why there appears to be a pretty clear threshold as to when a low LDL becomes problematic. While low HDL is typically associated with high-carbohydrate diets and obesity, there are also genetic and environmental factors that can cause levels to dip.
Despite its association with heart disease and obesity, cholesterol is essential to making certain vitamins and hormones, and it also plays a part in digestion and the metabolization of nutrients. The problem is that most Americans consume way too much through high-fat, high-carb diets. This only adds to the cholesterol that is already naturally produced by the liver.
A low-fat, low-carb diet, by contrast, can help maintain a higher concentration of HDL (which the body uses to excrete LDL from the body) and a lower concentration of LDL (which can clog arteries and form plaque).
We can measure HDL and LDL levels with a simple blood test. For the average American adult, the values, measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), can be interpreted as follows:
Dangers of Low HDL
From the standpoint of heart health, the total cholesterol level can never be too low. A problem, however, arises when the HDL drops below 40 mg/dL. Quite simply, the less HDL there is in your blood, the less LDL you can clear from the body. This, in turn, increase your risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), heart attack, and stroke.
HDL functions as an antioxidant, preventing arterial damage caused by other lipids. If the HDL is low (a condition referred to as hypoalphalipoproteinemia), the loss of the antioxidative effect may not only promote but accelerate plaque formation.
There are many reasons why your HDL may be low. Chief among these is a high-carbohydrate diet. A diet of this sort not only affects your blood sugar, increasing the risk of insulin resistance, but it can also lower your HDL while raising both your LDL and triglycerides by 30 percent to 40 percent.
Other factors associated with hypoalphalipoproteinemia include:
Dangers of Low LDL
While it would be fair to assume that a low LDL is a good thing, there are rare circumstances in which chronically low levels may increase your risk of certain diseases.
LDL is what's called a carrier protein, whose role it is to deliver chemicals to every cell in the body. It is also a critical component of cell membranes, serves as a brain antioxidant, and is used by the body to create the hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
Chronically low LDL levels may impair brain and hormonal activity and increase the risk of hypobetalipoproteinemia, a condition linked to depression, cirrhosis, preterm birth, hemorrhagic stroke, and certain types of cancers.
These conditions can affect both sexes but tend to impact women with an LDL below 50 mg/dL. Men, by contrast, are more likely to be affected when their LDL dips below 40 mg/dL.
While there remains strong debate as to the associations, given the disparate nature of the conditions, it may be reasonable to assume that the depletion of LDL may increase the oxidative stress on the brain, impacting both brain function and vascular integrity.
Similarly, abnormally low LDL levels during pregnancy may trigger hormonal imbalances that contribute, at least in part, to premature birth. We also know that low LDL is also associated with the dysregulation of a protein known as tumor necrotizing factor alpha (TNF-a), the condition of which may be associated with cancer, major depression, and Alzheimer's disease.
With that being said, hypobetalipoproteinemia is often caused by cancer, liver disease, severe malnutrition, and other wasting disorders. As such, no one knows for sure if a chronically low LDL is necessarily the cause or consequence of a disease. It may be in some cases, but not others.
Hypobetalipoproteinemia is also believed associated with mutations of the so-called ANGPTL3 gene, causing abnormal drops in both LDL and HDL. Other likely genetic causes have been identified.
It is often difficult to manage low cholesterol with anything other than diet or lifestyle. There are currently no pharmacological agents able to raise HDL (with the exception of hormone replacement therapy in postmenopausal women).
Vitamin supplementation, including high-dose vitamin E (tocotrienols) (100 to 300 mg/day) and vitamin A (10,000 to 25,000 IUs per day), may help normalize LDL levels.
Beyond that, the best way to get your cholesterol within the normal limits is to:
Current Dietary Recommendations
While the current U.S. dietary guidelines no longer restrict cholesterol to 300 milligrams per day, this shouldn't suggest that the amount we eat is no longer an issue. By and large, foods that are high in cholesterol tend to be high in saturated fat, the latter of which significantly increases the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
It is important to note that dietary cholesterol is derived only from animal sources, including meat, poultry, shellfish, dairy products, and egg yolks. Of these, foods like eggs and shellfish are high in cholesterol but low in saturated fat, making them an ideal source for the cholesterol our bodies need.
To this end, cholesterol is not a "danger" in and of itself. It is the type of cholesterol-containing foods we eat that influence our risk of CVD and other cardiovascular-related illnesses.
$32.95 - $62.95
Annatto-E is a unique tocopherol-free, tocotrienols-only product, featuring tocotrienols sourced from the annatto tree. Annatto is the richest known source of tocotrienols, containing 100% tocotrienols (90% delta and 10% gamma isomers), with no tocopherols. Annatto-E contains delta/gamma tocotrienols.
Commercial vitamin E supplements are typically rich in tocopherols and low or absent in tocotrienols, however tocotrienol fractions have unique beneficial effects across a variety of tissues that make them desirable to support many aspects of health. Research indicates that tocopherols—especially alpha-tocopherol—may interfere with key therapeutic effects of tocotrienols, so it may be best to dose tocotrienols alone, without tocopherols.
Servings Per Container: 30
As a dietary supplement, take one softgel per day, or as directed by your health care practitioner.
Annatto-ETM 300 contains
Serving Size: 1 Softgel
Amount Per Serving
Vitamin E Isomers ... 300mg
(as delta and gamma tocotrienols)
Other Ingredients: bovine gelatin, water, glycerin.
Does not contain gluten, dairy, soy, or GMOs.
Annatto-ETM 300 is made with DeltaGold®70, an essentially tocopherol-free, tocotrienol-only product, containing typically 90% delta tocotrienol and 10% gamma-tocotrienol. DeltaGold®70, which is manufactured under US Patent 6,350,453 and methods-of-use patent 8,586,109 to American River Nutrition, LLC.
Annatto-ETM 150 contains
Notice: Color, size, or shape may appear different between lots.
Store at room temperature.
Keep out of reach of children.
Annatto E Synergy
Annatto-E Synergy is a unique tocopherol-free, tocotrienols-only product,
containing 125mg tocotrienols along with 1g black cumin seed oil (Nigella
sativa) per two softgel serving. The synergistic combination of tocotrienols
and black cumin makes it most efficacious for supporting a healthy
inflammatory response, healthy lipid levels, and for defending against
oxidative stress. The tocotrienols are extracted from the South American
annatto bean and contain 90% delta-tocotrienol and 10% gamma-tocotrienol. For
best results, this product should not be taken within six hours of taking a
vitamin E supplement containing d-alpha tocopherol.
Servings Per Container: 30
As a dietary supplement, take two softgels per day, or as directed by your health care practitioner.
Serving Size: Two Softgels
Amount Per Serving
Black Cumin Seed Oil ... 1 g
Tocotrienols ... 125 mg
Other Ingredients: Medium chain triglycerides; bovine gelatin, glycerine,
purified water, annatto (natural color, ) (softgel ingredients).
Does not contain gluten.
STORE AT ROOM TEMPERATURE.
KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN.
Notice: Color, size or shape may appear different between lots.
Vitamin D Complex
Vitamin D Complex features 2000 IUs of vitamin D, along with efficacious amounts of the other fat-soluble vitamins, A, E (tocopherols and tocotrienols), and K (K1 and K2). While there are a myriad of beneficial health attributes associated with vitamin D, it is extremely important to keep it in balance with these other vitamins. Research is emerging on the intricate interrelationships between them, which should make one think twice about dosing any of these supraphysiologically without the others.
Made with non-GMO ingredients.
Servings Per Container: 60
As a dietary supplement, take one capsule per day with a meal containing fat, or as directed by your health care practitioner.
Serving Size: One Capsule
Amount Per Serving
Vitamin A ... 5000IU
(as Retinyl Palmitate)
Vitamin D ... 2000IU
Vitamin E ... 8IU
(as d-alpha tocopherol)
Vitamin K ... 525mcg
(as Vitamin K1 Phytonadione 500mcg; Vitamin K2 Menaquinone-7 25mg)
High Gamma Mixed Tocopherols ... 50mg
(as d-gamma, d-delta, d-alpha, d-beta)
Tocotrienols ... 10mg
Other Ingredients: Cellulose (capsule), microcrystalline cellulose, vegetable stearate, silicon dioxide.