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Hypocholesterolemia: Is Low Cholesterol Count Bad For You?

Medically reviewed by Jezreel Esguerra, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Dan Navarro · Updated Feb 09, 2023

Hypocholesterolemia: Is Low Cholesterol Count Bad For You?

In recommended amounts, cholesterol is essential for the creation and strengthening of cell membranes and the production of bile acids, metabolic substances like Vitamin D, and various hormones. High cholesterol levels are connected to health risks. Low cholesterol levels, or hypocholesterolemia, may lead to health complications. However, doctors are still studying the connection between low cholesterol and potential risks to one’s health.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a wax-like type of fat produced in the liver, and taken in through the food we eat. A form of lipid, it is transferred to other parts of the body through the three types of lipoproteins present in blood:

  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL). This is the “bad cholesterol”. Having excessive LDL levels may lead to cholesterol build-up in the arteries that can interfere with the flow of blood to other parts of the body. This can lead to heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and peripheral artery disease.
  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL). This is the “good cholesterol”. It carries away excessive LDL from other parts of the body, including the arteries.
  • Very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL). This carries and transports triglyceride, a type of cholesterol produced from the food we consume and the calories stored in our bodies.

Doctors recommend the following values for healthy total blood (or serum) cholesterol levels:

  • Combined LDL, HDL, and triglyceride levels in the blood – less than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl).
  • LDL – less than 100 mg/dL
  • HDL – greater than or equal to 60 mg/dL
  • Triglycerides – less than 150 mg/dL

Determining hypocholesterolemia

Currently, medical experts have yet to arrive at a consensus on what level of cholesterol should be considered hypocholesterolemia. However, some studies suggest that the total serum cholesterol level should be lower than 120 mg/dL to be considered hypocholesterolemia. Others say that it should be lower than 160 mg/dL, citing findings of increased mortality rate as compared to those with higher cholesterol levels.

Other groups have suggested that lowering LDL or “bad cholesterol” levels to as low as 70 mg/dL or below may be safe and effective for lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Health risks of hypocholesterolemia

Through the years, medical experts have looked into the correlation between hypocholesterolemia and other health conditions. However, it is unclear if low cholesterol levels itself causes the condition, or is a result of the condition.

Here are some possible health risks related to very low levels of cholesterol in the body:

  • Hyperthyroidism. Also known as overactive thyroid, this happens when the thyroid gland secretes excessive thyroxine. This may result in faster metabolism, weight loss, and a faster yet irregular heartbeat.
  • Severe infections. Hypocholesterolemia was found in people with various severe infections, such as amebiasis, malaria, and sepsis.
  • Hemorrhagic stroke. This refers to  internal bleeding in the brain or skull, suddenly affecting the working systems of the brain.
  • Cancers. Under this are various myeloproliferative disorders such as leukemia and multiple myeloma.
  • Preventing hypocholesterolemia

    As there is still no confirmed data regarding the line between normal cholesterol levels and hypocholesterolemia, it can be hard to determine if very low LDL and total cholesterol levels are bad for our health.

    Still, you can be able to control your cholesterol level. If you’re currently taking medications or are practicing several lifestyle and dietary restrictions to lower and control your cholesterol levels, consult your doctor regarding the cholesterol levels that you should maintain. It is also vital to monitor your cholesterol levels every four to six years.

    Key takeaway

    Hypocholesterolemia is still debatable as a potential health issue. However various experts in the medical field have warned about the possible health complications that may result from exceedingly low amounts of cholesterol in our body. Consult with your doctor regarding the ideal amounts of cholesterol you should be taking, and whether this needs to be reduced.

    Learn more about Cholesterol here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Jezreel Esguerra, MD

    General Practitioner

    Written by Dan Navarro · Updated Feb 09, 2023

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