Triglycerides are fats stored in body and used for provision of energy for metabolism. They are chemical compounds that are digested by the body to enable it get energy for cell function or metabolic activity. Triglycerides are the common form of fat people take and they are mainly found in vegetable oils and animal fat. A triglyceride molecule is a form of glycerol chemical, which consists of three fatty acids. It is made up of three molecules of fatty acid (tri) and glyceride (glycocerol).
Since these fatty compounds cannot dissolve in water, they have to be broken down for absorption. In order for the body to absorb triglycerides, the parts are broken down in the small intestines. They are later reassembled with cholesterol where they form a chemical compound known as chylomicrons. Chylomicrons are the source of energy for cell functions in body. When the body needs energy, the fat cells and liver cells where these chylomicrons are stored, release the chemicals for energy.
What is the function of triglycerides in body?
Fats in the body are concentrated sources of energy including triglycerides. However, since they are more difficult to convert into energy than carbohydrates, they are usually regarded as the second choice for energy. The body, through a process known as catabolization, breaks down fats to be used as energy. The calories, which are not utilized immediately by the body, are stored in the adipose tissue until that time they are needed by the body to provide energy. That is when they are catabolized or broken down and used as energy.
Triglycerides also contribute to cell membrane by forming lipid bilayer. The membrane provides a barrier, which defines or separates the inside and outside of a cell. The triglycerides are also used as insulation and protection layers. When they are deposited under the skin, these fats form a layer, which insulates the body from the extreme temperature changes. In internal organs, fats serve as protective cushions from mechanical trauma. Triglycerides also contain vitamins like E, D, and K and when there is deficiency of these vitamins, it helps in supplying them to the body.
How to measure serum triglycerides
Serum triglyceride is the level of triglyceride in blood. Triglycerides are measured alongside serum cholesterol through what is known as lipid panel test. This test is used to measure cholesterols both HDL and LDL and triglycerides. A person is required to fast for about 9 to 12 hours before the test can be conducted.
Recent eating can affect the levels of fats in blood and may contribute to false results when the test is taken just after eating. Normal triglyceride levels are less than 150 milligrams per deciliter of blood. If the test shows that you have triglyceride levels ranging from 150 to 200mg/dl, this is regarded as medium level and you may need to start changing your lifestyle to reduce these fatty compounds.
Moreover, if the reading shows that you have more than 200mg/dl of triglycerides, it means that you have a high risk of suffering from atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, and stroke. People with triglyceride levels more than 500mg/dl may suffer from pancreatic disease or the inflammation of pancreases.
How to lower triglyceride levels
If you have high triglyceride levels that show a reading of more than 200 mg/dl, then you may need to adopt lifestyle changes, which can help you reduce those serum triglyceride levels. One way you can achieve this is through change of diet. Reducing the intake of sugars may help in bringing down the triglyceride levels. Whole grain products such as brown rice and bread may help in reducing the levels.
You may also need to avoid diet with saturated and trans-fats. You need to switch to monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Saturated fats and trans-fats are found in foods like butter, whole milk, fried foods, meats, cheese, and commercial baked goods. Monounsaturated fats are found in nuts, oils, canola, olive oil, and fatty fish such s mackerel, salmon, herrings, and lake trout.
Watching your weight can help in maintaining acceptable levels of triglycerides. Remaining more physically active, limiting alcohol consumptions and quitting smoking are ways you can help to lower the levels of these compounds in body. There are medications that are administered to help control the level of triglycerides in body. Fibrates and niacin are some of the medications used to lower triglycerides and cholesterols in body.
Use of medications for lowering the levels of fatty compounds on body should only be used under close supervision of a doctor. There are different factors examined by doctors before administering these drugs and they include the past medical history, use of other medications and risks factors for conditions like atherosclerosis. Any medication that is applied does not replace other therapies such as diet, exercise, and healthy lifestyles. By returning triglycerides to normal levels, this may help in decreasing the risks of suffering from conditions like peripheral artery disease, stroke, and heart attack.