What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a substance found in the blood and is essential for good health. It is well known to the general public, mainly for the devastating effects it has on health when in high concentration. However, in normal concentrations it is a unique biological molecule with multiple functions of vital importance to the human body and other species in nature.

From reproduction, the transport of nutrients, the structural integrity of cell membranes to the production of enough oestrogen by the placenta to prevent miscarriage of the foetus, cholesterol is the key molecule to carry out these functions.

For endocrinology, cholesterol is a molecule of unique importance, as it creates the basis from which important hormones for survival and reproduction are produced, such as cortisol and aldosterone, oestrogen and testosterone, respectively. Vitamin D is also synthesised from cholesterol and important vitamins such as vitamin K and E are transported via cholesterol.


What are the different types of cholesterol?

The different types of cholesterol are:

  •     Total Cholesterol
  •     LDL Cholesterol (bad cholesterol)
  •     HDL Cholesterol (good cholesterol)
  •     Triglycerides. Triglycerides are not a type of cholesterol as they represent another type of lipid (fat). However, when we measure cholesterol we usually measure triglycerides as well.