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From: Jeff Novick, MS, RD, LD, LN (novick.vegsource.com)
Subject:         Re: Help! I think my cholesterol is too low!
Date: March 8, 2008 at 5:55 am PST

In Reply to: Re: Help! I think my cholesterol is too low! posted by john l on March 7, 2008 at 12:03 pm:

Hi

>>,Well my health care practitioner is a teacher at a reputable school of naturopathy... in fact, my cholesterol level is a problem for me it doesn't seem like *anyone* necessarily knows what they're doing when it comes to this.

As I mentioned, I agree that some of the advice you are getting doesn't make sense. Reputable schools and advanced degrees may help and can often be a good criteria in choosing a health care provider, they do not guarantee reputable advice. They can be great screening tools, but not a guarantee.

In general, fish oil, avocado and nuts will not raise cholesterol levels and will most likely lower it, even more. A multivitamin, gotu kola tea and spirulina also are not going to help the issue you described. So, as you even noted, that advice does not make sense and you called it BS. I called it quackery. :)

>> I've also seen a regular doctor who was not concerned about my cholesterol level. I'm not sure what to believe.

Again, I would tend to agree and be more concerned with a thorough overview of your whole lifestyle and diet as there are many other lifestyle related (and some diet) that can be related to depression and anxiety. And, I would want to make sure you have ruled out any underlying issue that may be contributing to the low cholesterol.

>>>I wonder why you are so sure about this. There have been several studies, the overwhelming majority of which show a link between low cholesterol and depression and suicide (and some actually show a link to anxiety as well).

Observational studies that have related lower cholesterol to increase depression and suicide are interesting but prove nothing. They are just observations. Why I tend to not think it is a direct link is because we have done many randomized controlled trials where the end goal is to lower cholesterol levels (usually for heart related issues) and you would expect to see these problems in the groups that lower the cholesterol. But we don't. Some of them have even measure quality of life and we dont see the increase in depression and suicide. And, there are other studies (some very recent) that refute the claim.

Cholesterol and suicide attempts: a prospective study of depressed inpatients. Fiedorowicz JG, Coryell WH Psychiatry Res. 2007 Jul 30;152(1):11-20. Epub 2007 Mar 13.

"The results from this prospective dataset do not support an association between low cholesterol and subsequent suicide attempts despite replicating the retrospective findings of previous case-control and cross-sectional studies."

PMID: 17360043

Hypocholesterolemia and affective disorders. Am J Med Sci. 1994 Oct;308(4):218-25.

"There is no evidence that low plasma cholesterol could cause or worsen affective disorders."

PMID: 7942980

Low cholesterol levels, unless the result of a underlying issue, are associated with a lowered risk and mortality from heart disease and increased longevity.

>>Can you say more about this? Which other underlying health issues are associated with low cholesterol?

Chron's Disease
Liver Cancer
Liver Disease
malabsorption/malnutrition
celiac disease
hypobetalipoproteinemia - a genetic disease that causes cholesterol readings below 50mg/dl
manganese deficiency
Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome
leukemias
Anemias

>>I'd like to proceed by figuring out ways to raise my cholesterol and then see whether or not whatever I have to do to raise my cholesterol also helps my mood.

I wish you well in your experiment.

However, if your problem is just the low cholesterol number (and not any underlying issue as I mentioned), then raising it would be the solution and we know how to raise cholesterol levels very easily. And of course, you would want to try and do that in the healthiest way possible.

However, as I said, I am not convinced that is the problem. If you were my patient, I would recommend against your proposed course of action before completely evaluating and investigating all the other lifestyle/dietary issues that are known to effect this situation.

Again, I wish you well

In Health
Jeff

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