Cholesterol, a substance required for the normal function of cells, is present in every cell of the human body. It is also found in the bloodstream. The soft waxy substance is produced in the body and is essential for the production of vitamin D, bile salts and hormones.
The body creates most of the cholesterol found in the cells and blood, although some comes from food. According to the American Heart Association, about 75 percent of cholesterol is created in the body.
The liver is responsible for producing the cholesterol in the body. Alone, this organ can synthesize enough cholesterol to keep the cells healthy and hormones at the appropriate levels.
The membranes of the cells need to allow needed elements such as oxygen and nutrients to enter. This semi-permeable state also allows unwanted materials to be eliminated. Cholesterol is critical for cell membranes to function efficiently.
Vitamin D is created in the body when sunlight hits the skin. If cholesterol is not present in the body, this will not occur.
Bile salts, which are created from cholesterol, play an important part in the absorption of fat in the digestive tract.
Cholesterol must be present in the body in order for the body to create hormones such as progesterone, estrogen, testosterone and cortisol.
- The Human Body in Health and Illness; Barbara Herlihy, PhD, RN
- The American Heart Association
- Eating Well for Optimum Health: the Essential Guide to Food, Diet, and Nutrition; Andrew Weil