Sterols are a special type of lipid. Unlike other types of fats, sterols have an oxygen molecule instead of a tail of fatty acids. In the human body, sterols are represented by hormones estrogen and testosterone. In the plant world there are sterols – phytosterols, in the kingdom of mushrooms – ergosterols. Even in the world of microorganisms, there are compounds called Hopanoids that share common features with sterols. And among zoosterols (represented in animal organisms), cholesterol is most known.
What are zooterols
All sterols that exist in nature can be divided into groups:
- vegetable origin (phytosterols);
- animal origin (zoosterol);
- mycosterols (found in mushrooms).
Zoosterols are bioactive substances from the group of lipids, in their pure form are in the form of crystals, are contained in the bodies of animals. They belong to the group of fat-soluble, therefore, they do not react in any way to contact with water.
Animal and human organisms are able to independently produce this type of sterols, and about one fifth of the required standard is obtained from food. In the body, the reserves of zoosterol are concentrated in liquid substances, tissues of the nervous system, in the liver. For humans, the most important of this group are cholesterol and coprosterol. They are involved in metabolic processes, and are also responsible for the “health” of cell membranes.
Zoosterols in the human body
If you carefully analyze the body of an adult healthy person, you can determine that many organs contain some stores of sterols. Most zoosterols were concentrated in the tissues of the brain. Depending on individual characteristics, this indicator can range from 2 to 4 percent of the total body weight. A little less – about 3 percent of the substance contains nervous tissue.
The smallest of all zoosterol in a percentage ratio – approximately 0,25% – is stored in the muscles. But it’s enough to remember how many muscles are in the body of an adult, as it becomes clear: considerable reserves of sterol are hidden in the muscles.
At the cellular level, zooterols are responsible for the elasticity and strength of the cell. But, interestingly, sterols of animal origin have practically no effect on the body directly, they enter into reactions, the result of which affects the body.
Cholesterol, as the most well-known and common zoosterol, is found in the highest concentration in the brain and spinal cord, and the gallbladder stones are pure hardened cholesterol.
Sterol Animal Functions
If the human body at a certain stage of evolution has learned to self-provide itself with sterols of animal origin, this only tells one thing: people really need this substance. So, what functions in the body are assigned to sterols? What exactly are they useful to man?
And to begin the list of useful properties of zoosterols must, perhaps, from cells. For the smallest structural formations, sterols are important as a participant in the exchange processes occurring in the membranes. Also, thanks to sterols, carbohydrates, entering the cells, do not crystallize.
At the hormonal level, zoosterols help maintain the proper functioning of the reproductive system and adrenal glands. An adequate concentration of the substance will protect against mental disorders, including those caused by age-related changes. Sterols are important for maintaining the balance of vitamins from the fat-soluble group, they are necessary for the production of bile in adequate portions.
One of the most important sterols of animal origin for maintaining health is cholesterol. But consuming foods rich in cholesterol, it is important not to exceed the accepted norms. An excess of this substance is just as dangerous for the body as a deficiency. Nutritionists advise not to go beyond 200 mg of cholesterol per day.
Check cholesterol and enter into the diet foods containing animal sterols, it is important for people with disabilities gallbladder, adrenal glands, in violation of hormonal levels. The fragility of blood vessels, aggressiveness and hypovitaminosis D also serve as a reason to consume as much as possible (but without exceeding the allowed norms) zoosterols.
In contrast, strokes, heart attacks, a high risk of cardiovascular disease, liver dysfunction and failure in metabolic processes always serve as a warning signal. And before the cause of violations is established, it is better to minimize foods rich in zoosterols in the diet.
What is the level in the body?
The concentration of any substance in the body with almost 100-percent accuracy can be determined solely by laboratory research methods. But among our fellow citizens there are not so many people who faithfully follow the recommendations of doctors about regular medical examinations and preventive tests. So what should alert the thought to check the balance of sterols in the body?
To begin, consider the signs of excess zoosterols. Most likely, the level of the substance is above the norm, if, with exertion, pain in the legs appears and the weight starts to increase. Cardiological problems of various kinds often arise on the background of an excess of sterols. The same can be said about the hormonal imbalance.
And interestingly, excessive accumulation of zoosterols in the body can be triggered by factors from the outside. For example, in people with overweight, bad habits, unhealthy diets and a passive lifestyle, an excess of zoosterols is almost guaranteed.
About the lack of substance the body, perhaps, will report
- bleeding tendency;
- weakened state of health;
- enlarged lymph nodes;
- depressive states with bouts of aggression;
- loss of appetite;
- decrease in sexual desire.
In addition, metabolic disorders and diseases of the digestive system organs can also cause an imbalance of nutrients. Including lack of sterols.
Cholesterol and coprosterol in the human body
As already noted, the most famous and common zoosterins in the human body are cholesterol and coprosterol. The second substance is a derivative of hydrogenated cholesterol. It is known that the conversion of cholesterol in the body begins with the production of cholestenone, which is then transformed into coprostanone, and the finishing stage is coprosterol.
Modern science has not yet fully studied how cholesterol is synthesized in human bodies (and animals too) from simpler elements. But there is no doubt that this process is going on. The researchers conducted an experiment: for some time the animals were fed food artificially “purified” from cholesterol. But as a result, it turned out that this in no way affected the concentration of zoosterol in the experimental subjects. It turned out that even a cholesterol-free diet is not capable of reducing the level of sterol in animals below 120 mg%.
And while cholesterol is always part of the bile, coprosterol is part of feces in any diet. Interestingly, even meconium (original feces) also contains coprosterol, and there are some portions of cholesterol in the body of babies. Over the years, the rate of both zoosterins is increasing.
If we recall that zoosterols are fat-like substances of animal origin, then making a list of products rich in this type of sterols is not a difficult task.
Almost all meat products – a source of zoosterol. The most useful – red meat, rabbit meat, offal and dishes from them, lard. It is also important to pay attention to chicken eggs, durum cheeses, butter and cream. Good sources of sterol can serve seafood, red caviar, sea fish and canned goods from it. Not the most useful, but still quite good sources of sterol, are cakes with butter creams and sausages.
Table of contents of zoosterols in products
|Product (100 g)||Zoosterol (mg)|
|Yolk of chicken egg||1600|
How are absorbed in the body
The numbers in the table are based on the 100 of the raw product. It is important to know that heat treatment of food affects the zoosterol index in food. After boiling meat or fish, about a fifth of the sterol is lost.
In the human body, zoosterols (in the form of cholesterol) are non-alien substances. The body is able to synthesize this type of sterols, so there are practically no problems with their digestibility. Meanwhile, unhealthy diet, harmful fats in the diet can cause over-saturation of the body with zoosterols. By the way, this is the only way to achieve an excess of sterols, since the body produces a substance in adequate doses – necessary to maintain vital processes, but not sufficient to accumulate excess.
As practice shows, the organism will digest zoosterols “from the outside” more readily if it does not experience a deficiency of ascorbic acid, vitamin B6 or folic acid. But the lack of zoosterols in the body leads to a mineral imbalance. The most common outcome is bone disease, such as osteoporosis and others. But animal sterols not only affect the concentration of calcium in the body. They are also closely interconnected with the process of synthesizing vitamin D. This is yet another proof of how important harmony is in everything. And the vitamin-mineral balance also applies.
Zoosterols in pharmacology
For therapeutic purposes, zoosterol is isolated from foods rich in matter. One of the options for “raw materials” is meat products.
But in addition to the direct production of “pharmacy” zoosterol, this substance has found other uses in pharmacology. For example, the creators of drugs and dietary supplements actively use animal sterols for the production of vitamin D, hormonal drugs (based on steroids) and some other drugs. In such cases, the sources for cholesterol are the spinal cord of cattle, bile, lanolin, and egg yolk.
Nowadays, when the diagnosis of ischemic heart disease plunges into horror. Many people completely eliminate cholesterol-containing food from their diets, which, under certain circumstances, is one of the factors leading to the disease. However, the correct level of this lipid substance, like other zoosterols, performs essential functions. Moreover, not all cholesterol derived from food is absorbed by the body. Scientists say that from a diet containing 400 mg of cholesterol, only half of the substance is absorbed and transported to the liver.
However, it is enough to understand what zooterol is and why a person needs it to realize that it is impossible to eliminate these lipids from your life for no apparent reason.