Body Fats - Ideal Levels of Blood Fats, Common Causes for Disorders

An Insight Into Body Fats

Dr.Surya Rao Poodipeddi profile Authored by Dr.Surya Rao Poodipeddi on 6 Feb 2014 - 16:11.

The food we eat primarily comprises Fats, Carbohydrates and Proteins. Each one of these has different roles to play with different modes of conversion in breaking it to minute particles. And when these particles are in excess or shortage, they give rise to different types of medical problems.

Fat also known as lipid, is an energy rich substance responsible for maintaining the metabolic processes in the body by supplying the necessary fuel. There are two sources of fat supply to the body, a) Manufactured in the body b) Obtained from food containing fats.

Liver is the main source of fat production. It manufactures fats and stores it in the fat cells. When produced or consumed in excess, fat cells stores the excess fat for future use. Fats also insulate the body from cold temperatures and protect it from external injuries. Fats are essential for maintaining cell membranes called Myelin sheathe that forms a layer around the nerve cells and the bile.

There are two distinct types of fats namely Cholesterol and Tryglycerides. To enable the free flow of fats through the blood stream, the fats attach themselves to the proteins. This combination of fats and proteins is known as lipoproteins.

There are various types of lipoproteins, the major ones being, Chylomicrons, Very Low Density Lipoproteins (VLDL), Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL) and High Density Lipoproteins (HDL).

Functions of fat cells: Each of these lipoproteins serves a different purpose and their mode of breakdown and excretion outside also differs. For example chylomicrons take their origin from the walls of the intestines and carry digested fats to the blood stream. When once they enter the blood stream a series of enzymes remove the fat from the chylomicrons either for use as energy or storage for future use. The left over chylomicrons stripped of their fat (tryglycerides) are removed by the liver from the blood stream.

Human body is bestowed with such wonderful mechanism that it can regulate the fat content to the optimum requirements either by reducing the synthesis of the lipotropines and their entry into the blood stream or by increasing or reducing the rate of their removal from the bloodstream. This mechanism however, works during normal intake and regular exercises. Several complications can result if there are abnormal levels of fat, like the cholesterol in the bloodstream.

Atherosclerosis (formation of clogs within the walls of the blood vessels) is the main complication that might result due to increased levels of cholesterol in the blood. If the blood vessels supplying the heart are involved it results in coronary heart disease. If it involves blood vessels in the brain it results in a stroke (paralysis). It can affect any organ in the body including the kidneys and eyes.

It therefore becomes clear that probably low levels of cholesterol in the blood are a blessing in disguise though extremely low levels are not conducive for a healthy living.

An ideal level of cholesterol should be between 140 and 200 mg. If the cholesterol level reaches 300 mg or more, the risk for heart attack doubles.

All the varieties of cholesterol do not carry the risk for heart attack. For example the cholesterol carried by LDL nicknamed “bad cholesterol” increases the risk for heart attacks whereas the cholesterol carried by the HDL, known as good cholesterol not only lowers the risk for heart attacks but is also beneficial.

The ideal levels for LDL should be lower than 130 mg/dl and the HDL should be higher than 40 mg/dl.

It is still unclear whether increased levels of triglycerides have any role as a risk factor for the causation of heart disease. However, blood levels of triglycerides above 250 mg/dl are considered abnormal. Very high levels of triglycerides like 800 mg/dl are known to lead to Pancreatitis.

The following table indicates ideal levels of blood fats:

 

Ideal Levels of Blood Fats

 

Blood Fats  Ideal Range

Total cholesterol  

120 to 200 mg/dl

Chylomicrons     

NIL after 24 hours of fasting

VLDL (Very Low Density Lipotropines

1 to 30 mg/dl

LDL (Low Density Lipotropines)   

60 to 160 mg/dl

HDL (High Density Lipotropines)   

35 to 65 mg/dl

LDL/HDL Ratio  

  Less than 3.5

Tryglycerides    

10 to 160 mg/dl

(Mg/dl indicates milligrams per deciliter of blood)
 

Common causes for high levels of fats include

  • Diets rich in saturated fats and cholesterol.

  • Cirrhosis which in turn is usually due to chronic alcoholism

  • Uncontrolled or poorly controlled diabetes.

  • Hypothyroidism where the gland is under active. Hyperpituitarism where the pituitary gland is over active

  • Renal failure due to any cause

  • A condition called porphyria where there is deficiency of an enzyme responsible to control heme (related to the color of the blood) and  

  • Heredity.

Similarly the common causes for the high levels of tryglycerides in the blood include: 

  • Consumption of excess calories in the diet

  • Acute alcohol abuse

  • Severe uncontrolled diabetes

  • Kidney failure of any cause

  • Heredity and

  • Certain drugs like Estrogens, Oral contraceptives to prevent pregnancy, Corticosteroids and thiazide diuretics.

Hence keeping a regular watch on the dietary and lifestyle habits can help cut out excess fats levels in the blood.

 

*Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only. Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.