(Low) Cholesterol - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 09-20-2005, 05:50 AM
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Hi everyone. I was, until recently, a vegan for 7 years. Despite having read all the literature that says that vegans enjoy better health, I cannot say that my health was ever at an optimal level and over time it deteriorated noticeably. In fact, persistent problems like tiredness and feeling cold plagued me whilst I was vegan.



Earlier this year I had my cholesterol tested (3.4mmol/L although this is low, it is not quite as low as other vegans I know).



Not only does the vegan literature, but also my doctor, seem to think that low cholesterol is desirable and beneficial. I have since looked into problems associated with low cholesterol and found the information very disconcerting. Some of the consequences appear to be very serious and I cannot understand why anyone in the vegan movement has not already forewarned others of the potential health problems.



I would be very interested to hear from anyone who has experienced problems relating to low cholesterol.
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#2 Old 09-20-2005, 01:36 PM
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Thats interesting, I always thought that your body would make all the cholesterol that it needed. Do you have any links or anything you could share?
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#3 Old 09-20-2005, 01:55 PM
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i was vegan for five years before my low cholesterol (with secondary symptoms) pushed me back into lacto-ovo vegetarianism.



why hasn't anyone in the vegan movement mentioned it? probably because it works against their cause. other than drugs or animal products (neither of which are technically vegan) there is no other way to increase cholesterol levels.



here is some interesting research about low cholesterol:



Low Cholesterol's Relationship to Depression (study from Finland)





Cholesterol Myths
written by a German Doctor--just some general things.



Someone's Personal Website with some Great Links



Vanderbilt UNiversity Wellness Web Site (also has good links)



that should get you started, at least.
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#4 Old 09-20-2005, 01:56 PM
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Check your iron. Low iron is usually the culprit behind why people feel draggy and tired. While you're checking, also check your magnesium levels and your protein levels (believe it or not, some vegans actually do not get enough protein because they simply don't eat enough or they eat all the wrong foods).



Did you have your C-reactive protein checked also? HDL and LDL are nice to monitor, but the CRP will tell more of the real story than just looking at your cholesterol level.



Your cholesterol reading is very close to mine (I think I tested at a 4.0 or so) and I've never felt better. I have energy to burn and rarely feel like a cold plaguing me.



Anything can do anything, Ex so I would say thoroughly check things out before deciding that one thing or the other is your problem.
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#5 Old 09-20-2005, 02:00 PM
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I am not certain the OP is even vegetarian - he only identified himself as ex-vegan....
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#6 Old 09-20-2005, 02:58 PM
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I tried doing a little bit a research and couldn't find a whole heck of a lot of info. My guess is that this area is under explored b/c so many people have HIGH levels and over consume.



What did you find?
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#7 Old 09-20-2005, 03:44 PM
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Hi,

I was reading those links (I couldnt find anything myself back when I looked and was looking for numbers) and the devider for low/normal was listed as total 160. Im wondering at what number do doctors need to start taking a second look? I had asked my dr about low cholesterol awhile back and got the 'no such thing'. I'm wondering at what point should a person start to worry (I was thinking low would be total 100 or less so seeing 160 has me a bit worried) and what other things could be causing it to be low or could the low chesterol be causing other problems? Any more information anyone has would be great. Also, zoebird, do you see a specialist? Are there specialists for this even?



Thanks.
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#8 Old 09-20-2005, 04:15 PM
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I would imagine a lot of it would be because of genetics. Some people develope high cholestrol when eating cholestrol ladden food, while others can consume it without a noticible difference. I imagine the reverse can happen to someone eating no cholestrol if their genetics are predisposed to it. If there isn't much said/printed about it, it may be due to the fact that it isn't quite that common.
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#9 Old 09-20-2005, 04:50 PM
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i've been vegan seven years. my cholesterol was checked back in march, but i wasn't fasting (although i didn't eat anything with much fat that morning). these are the numbers:



CHOL 114 <200 mg/dL

TRIG 66 20-140 mg/dL

HDLD 63 >35 mg/dL

LDLD 46 0-130 mg/dL



if anyone thinks this sounds unhealthy, let me know.



ETA: i guess 114mg/dL = 2.9mmol/L.
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#10 Old 09-20-2005, 04:54 PM
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For the record, I did do a lot of research before I made the heart-breaking decision to add fish, eggs and dairy products back into my diet.



Although I have started taking iron and B12 supplements, there was no way of adding cholesterol without compromising my vegan diet. The big problem is that cholesterol is necessary to manufacture hormones. Blood tests revealed I was deficient in DHEAS - mother of all hormones- thyroid, and testosterone - compared to levels that are within the female range.



Four months into my new diet, I had follow-up blood tests and all my hormone levels are now within the acceptable range. Within one week of eating fish, my body started generating heat, something it had not done for years.



The literature suggests other consequences of low cholesterol worse than what I experienced. This is something I would like others to be mindful of, so that they do not unwittingly experience the same problems that I have had.
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#11 Old 09-20-2005, 11:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ynaffit View Post

i've been vegan seven years. my cholesterol was checked back in march, but i wasn't fasting (although i didn't eat anything with much fat that morning). these are the numbers:



CHOL 114 <200 mg/dL

TRIG 66 20-140 mg/dL

HDLD 63 >35 mg/dL

LDLD 46 0-130 mg/dL



if anyone thinks this sounds unhealthy, let me know.







This actually makes me feel a bit better. My numbers are very similar.

total: 120

trigl: 79

hdl: 39

ldl: 65

I'm female, 31. Mine was done fasting. I dont know if that makes much difference?

Im just glad someone else is showing numbers as low as mine are seeming to be. Makes me feel a bit better.

I do have depression and anxiety, and while I doubt they stem from low cholesterol Im concerned that the low cholesterol could be making them worse.
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#12 Old 09-21-2005, 07:09 AM
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fatboy:



i saw three doctors--two natural, one 'regular'--all of whom worked with me over the course of a year to find natural ways of getting my numbers up.



along with my low cholesterol, i had other symptoms (such as cloudiness/sadness, among others)--just as ex-vegan mentioned s/he had other symptoms. Looking at the hormonal situations (which i monitored via charting and blood work--i also had thyroid malfunctions, which removing soy pretty much got rid of, but the cholesterol that i consume really helps), looking at the other things going on with the body, etc. . .this can indicate whether low cholesterol is a problem.



my cholesterol is naturally low--as is most people in my family. Most of my family consumes meat, dairy, eggs, on a daily basis. None have high cholesterol (except my mother when she entered menopause, which is normal for menopausal women). With my cholesterol-free diet, i went from 'low-normal' to 'dangerously low' over time.
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#13 Old 09-21-2005, 07:11 AM
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oh, and it is important to explore the connection between depression/anxiety and low cholesterol--particularly if you have D/A.
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#14 Old 09-21-2005, 09:55 AM
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Hey, if we don't eat cholesterol rich food (meat), is that dangerous. I thought that we didn't need more cholestrol because our bodies make enough. I need to know this stuff. Help.
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#15 Old 09-21-2005, 10:00 AM
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It depends on the person. Some people create enough on their own naturally. It appears that ex-vegan could not.
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#16 Old 09-21-2005, 10:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by naturalsusta View Post

Hey, if we don't eat cholesterol rich food (meat), is that dangerous. I thought that we didn't need more cholestrol because our bodies make enough. I need to know this stuff. Help.



This isn't something you necessarily need to worry about. If I remember correctly, you're a lacto-ovo vegetarian (or are working towards that goal)?

There's still cholesterol in milk, cheese and eggs. If you're really worried about it, talk to your doctor.
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#17 Old 09-21-2005, 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Ex-vegan View Post

For the record, I did do a lot of research before I made the heart-breaking decision to add fish, eggs and dairy products back into my diet.



Although I have started taking iron and B12 supplements, there was no way of adding cholesterol without compromising my vegan diet. The big problem is that cholesterol is necessary to manufacture hormones. Blood tests revealed I was deficient in DHEAS - mother of all hormones- thyroid, and testosterone - compared to levels that are within the female range.



Four months into my new diet, I had follow-up blood tests and all my hormone levels are now within the acceptable range. Within one week of eating fish, my body started generating heat, something it had not done for years.



The literature suggests other consequences of low cholesterol worse than what I experienced. This is something I would like others to be mindful of, so that they do not unwittingly experience the same problems that I have had.





OK- So what labs did you do before and after you switched from vegan to non-vegan? What were the results?

Also, did you actually track your food in something like fitday.com and discuss it with a nutritionist along with the labs? I'm not sure how you came to the heartbreaking decision. Any diet can be harmful if it is not varied enough or has too much junk or just too little food overall. Did you eat *enough* fat?



I'm also curious what you found disconcerting about low cholesterol levels. What were the sources? Did any of it cite medical literature?



I've read there is no such thing as too low for LDL. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/...in583429.shtml

http://msnbc.msn.com/id/3475816/



Eating cholesterol isn't the problem as much as saturated (and trans) fats are. Fiber can lower cholesterol, and exercise and monounsaturated fats can raise HDL (good cholesterol). So a vegan on a bad diet and no exercise can have high cholesterol. (and then there is also genetically high cholesterol people)



http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/fats.html
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#18 Old 09-21-2005, 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by FatboyLovesTofu View Post

This actually makes me feel a bit better. My numbers are very similar.

total: 120

trigl: 79

hdl: 39

ldl: 65

I'm female, 31. Mine was done fasting. I dont know if that makes much difference?

Im just glad someone else is showing numbers as low as mine are seeming to be. Makes me feel a bit better.

I do have depression and anxiety, and while I doubt they stem from low cholesterol Im concerned that the low cholesterol could be making them worse.



Hi Fatboy Loves Tofu,

Why do you doubt that your depression and anxiety is not the result of your diet? It is much easier to blame your family and friends for the way you feel than question your diet!



The link below to Dr Mercola's website suggests there is also a connection with aggression. Over the years I have had the displeasure of dealing with some very obnoxious vegans and now I understand that it was most likely the diet that was causing their behaviour. I'm sure we all know the type of person I'm talking about: obsessional, arrogant, and in your face.



mercola.com/2001/jan/14/low_cholesterol_aggression.htm
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#19 Old 09-21-2005, 04:16 PM
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Hi Fatboy Loves Tofu,

Why do you doubt that your depression and anxiety is not the result of your diet? It is much easier to blame your family and friends for the way you feel than question your diet!

it's much clearer that what happens in your life is going to affect how you feel and think than it is that your cholesterol levels will.



i also have trouble with anxiety and depression, but i doubt my diet (or at least the lack of animal products) has anything to do with it because the changes in severity just don't correspond with dietary changes.



Quote:
Over the years I have had the displeasure of dealing with some very obnoxious vegans and now I understand that it was most likely the diet that was causing their behaviour. I'm sure we all know the type of person I'm talking about: obsessional, arrogant, and in your face.

maybe all the evangelical christians that act similarly need to eat more animal products, too.



i think this is an odd addition for someone who's simply trying to call attention to a potential health concern.
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#20 Old 09-21-2005, 05:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Ex-vegan View Post


The link below to Dr Mercola's website suggests there is also a connection with aggression. Over the years I have had the displeasure of dealing with some very obnoxious vegans and now I understand that it was most likely the diet that was causing their behaviour. I'm sure we all know the type of person I'm talking about: obsessional, arrogant, and in your face.



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#21 Old 09-21-2005, 05:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Ex-vegan View Post


Over the years I have had the displeasure of dealing with some very obnoxious vegans and now I understand that it was most likely the diet that was causing their behaviour. I'm sure we all know the type of person I'm talking about: obsessional, arrogant, and in your face.



Wow, substitute omnivore for vegan, and you've described many of the people posted about in our "Stupid things omnivores say" thread!
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#22 Old 09-21-2005, 05:49 PM
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Wow, substitute omnivore for vegan, and you've described many of the people posted about in our "Stupid things omnivores say" thread!



I'm sorry if I offended anyone with this comment. I hope you understand what I was trying to say.
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#23 Old 09-21-2005, 05:52 PM
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I'm sorry if I offended anyone with this comment. I hope you understand what I was trying to say.





I'm not offended... it's just that lots of people act like a-holes, and have personality issues, and they can't all have low cholesterol.
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#24 Old 09-21-2005, 06:24 PM
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I think the reason why doctors don't warn you about low cholesterol is because (AFAIK) in a healthy human being, your liver makes all the cholesterol you should need.



A few studies showing a correlation between low cholesterol and depression does not prove that you should eat foods high in cholesterol to be unhappy, or that a low cholesterol diet causes depression.



Several possibilities exist: Depression causes low cholesterol. Low cholesterol causes depression. Some unknown agent causes both low cholesterol and depression. Or these studies involved a statistical fluke that linked low cholesterol and depression even though no link exists. (Don't laugh -- it has been known to happen!)



Furthermore, there is question if a low cholesterol diet can cause the same effects, or if its only valid for naturally occuring low cholesterol levels regardless of diet.



So what do these studies prove? That low cholesterol may be useful as a screening agent for depression.



Contrast the possibility that low cholesterol diets cause depression with the evidence that low cholesterol levels lead to less heart disease and strokes. A rational doctor is going to advise you that lower cholesterol levels are better for you.



Hope that helps explain your doctor's reasoning.



(Btw, aren't you screened for depression whenever you have a checkup? The last checkup I had, I had questions screening me both for depression and for domestic abuse. First time I've been asked the later, but I approve of gender-neutral abuse screening!)
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#25 Old 09-21-2005, 06:26 PM
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Hi Thalia,

Unfortunately as I am new to this discussion board I am unable to post URLs. Have tried but failed. I can't even include your post in my reply.



I'm puzzled by the first two articles you refered me to. The studies they refer to were sponsored by the drug manufacture Pfizer. Of course, they found that the new drugs they were about to market were beneficial. (Read the subtext: We will make lots of money out of this new drug)



I would like to refer you to the second-opinions website based in the UK. They have an article called the Cholesterol Myth. Go to part 4: the Dangers of Low Blood Cholesterol. This is the information that is so disconcerting. Perhaps someone else can post this URL. Thanks.



Unfortunately, low cholesterol and veganism go together like a hand in a glove, and I for one was certainly not told about these possible consequences until I started having numerous health problems and took an interest in doing the research myself to get to the bottom of it.



We cannot help the animals if we are unhealthy.
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#26 Old 09-21-2005, 10:18 PM
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Ex-vegan I mean no disrespect towards you at all........the website you are referring to is written by a certain Barry Groves that :
  1. Seems to take QUITE a bit of delight in trying to debunk the veg*n lifestyle
  2. Seems to think that a low-carb / high fat diet is healthy
  3. oddly enough sells items promoting his own said diet





Doesn't inspire much confidence does it?



I agree that all people should be aware of health issues regardless of diet. veg*ns included and that there may well be some adverse side effects to a veg*n diet. however I do believe that science has repeatedly shown that the veg*n diet can be/ is healthier





Sorry to introduce myself with a negative post folks.... just been lurking for awhile.





Randy
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#27 Old 09-21-2005, 10:39 PM
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I'm not sure how to convert my cholesterol, but my previous total reading was 139, with fasting. At least half was the 'good' cholesterol. I wasn't vegan, either. My doctor was very pleased with the number. From what I've heard, most people need not worry unless they go under 100. It seems the average person has scary high numbers of 200+. Yikes. I'm not sure why anyone would be worried about being in the mid-hundreds. Supposedly, you should be under 150 to alleviate your chance of dying from a heart attack.
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#28 Old 09-22-2005, 12:15 AM
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Hi,

Sorry for the cofusion. My depression and anxiety (and there is more to it then just that) predate my being strict vegetarian by years, so Im pretty sure that can be ruled out as a cause. Actually I feel much better depression wise this last year and a half, but again, I dont think that has too much to do with diet although my diet may be boosting it. The depression was starting to lift before the diet change and I also stopped smoking two weeks before going strict vegetarian (overnight pretty much from omni, one year ago on september first). More recently its been anxiety that has been flaring up. To the point I sometimes consider medication again.



About six years ago a dr told me I had a hormone imbalance and I should take BC Pills. He didnt say anything else about it and I didnt care enough to ask. I didnt take them because I hate pills. I also moved state just a few weeks after that visit. This most recent dr I have been to suspects a hormone imbalance. In my case it is obviously a male hormone, maybe more then one (??) that causing me a few problems. However Im really deadset against BC pills and pretty much any type of pill at this point (ive been medicated enough)so I have not had the blood tests done to determine which hormone it is or how much out of wack it is. The dr did tell me there were other medications for it and I should think about it. So that is something that I have already looked at and actually is an issue for me, and has been for a long time. Ive only recently started looking into it more though. Things I didnt know could be associated with that I had (nightmares linked to too high testosterone) have popped out at me so Im trying to read a bit more about them and find out what can pinned on that.



One of those links (im pretty sure it was one posted by zoebird) did mention that cholesterol can be lowered by infections and that did catch my eye. I had someone suggest to my I might have mono awhile back, or some low grade chronic infection. So seeing that bit about chronic illness has sparked me to maybe look a bit more in that direction. I think its maybe a puzzle thats going to take some time.



I will say this, going veggie caused to me to make the association between what was called "psychotic itching" (meaning drs couldnt find a reason for the severe itch that caused me stratch up bits of skin and tissue) and my eating certain wheat breads. I think im allergic to wheat (although not wheat specifically, not all wheat does it, the wheat pitas dont bother me so they are my only 'bread' anymore). Im not certain about that. I just have realized, by keeping a food diary, that I get itchy the next day with certain wheat breads or wheat flour. Homemade banana bread made with wheat flour was the worst.



But for me this seems to be a medical puzzle that is going to take time to sort out, and every little bit of information helps. Knowing that low cholesterol could contribute is something for me to keep in the back of my head if things get bad enough and there are no other answer.



One peice of trivia before i go...... a bumb on the achilles tendon is very very rarely caused by excess cholesterol being dumped there ...



sorry that was so long
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#29 Old 09-22-2005, 01:47 AM
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This has been a very interesting thread. Thanks.
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#30 Old 09-22-2005, 07:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by naturalsusta View Post

Hey, if we don't eat cholesterol rich food (meat), is that dangerous. I thought that we didn't need more cholestrol because our bodies make enough. I need to know this stuff. Help.



eggs and dairy are cholesterol rich foods. some people, like ex-vegan, may also choose to include meat. others may not. i have no included meat in my diet, and my cholesterol levels have normalized.



of course, i eat a lot more eggs than people often think is healthy (2-4 a day), but that's ok, because i'm healthy and it all works out.
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