Canadian Health Measures Survey: Cholesterol bad, vitamin D good?

March 23rd, 2010  |  Published in Stumpblog  |  7 Comments

Leaving aside for the moment the cholesterol debate about what blood cholesterol actually represents, just-released data from the Canadian Health Measures Survey indicate that Canadians appear to have poor blood lipid profiles. Personally I look at circulating triglycerides more than cholesterol, as the cholesterol hypothesis is undergoing some revision at the moment… however we do know that blood TGs are definitely correlated with things like metabolic syndrome.

High levels of total cholesterol increase with age. About 27% of adults aged 20 to 39 had high levels of total cholesterol from 2007 to 2009. This percentage increased to 47% among those aged 40 to 59 and 54% of those aged 60 to 79. About 36% of adult Canadians had unhealthy levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, while 30% had unhealthy levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. Unhealthy levels of LDL cholesterol generally increase with age, but peaked at 43% among adults aged 40 to 59. Overall, about 25% of Canadian adults had unhealthy levels of triglycerides. About 36% of Canadians aged 20 to 79 who did not have a healthy level of good cholesterol were obese, compared with 16% of those with a healthy level of good cholesterol. Unhealthy levels of total cholesterol, triglycerides, and bad cholesterol were generally associated with higher measured hypertension.

On the other hand, the CHMS argues that most Canadians are not vitamin D deficient. Again, a contentious suggestion given that we are all basically dressed like Nanook, living in the dark, for several months of the year. The survey found that the vast majority (90%) of Canadians aged 6 to 79 had concentrations of vitamin D in their blood that were considered adequate for bone health. I find this a bit puzzling, personally… unless everyone is somehow consuming tons of vitamin D-fortified milk…

Anyhoo, make of this what you will.


  1. What Do I Need To Loose Weight, A Diet Plan or Exercise Program? | NewdietFitness says:

    March 23rd, 2010at 3:01 pm(#)

    […] Canadian Health Measures Survey: Cholesterol bad, vitamin D good … […]

  2. Paul says:

    March 23rd, 2010at 11:45 pm(#)

    The Framingham study evidence underlying the “lipid hypothesis” was never strong to start with. Since then a massive lipid lowering campaign has shown no effect on heart disease rates. While an elegant and seemingly intuitive hypothesis, more and more openly people are rightly questioning the wisdom of the cholesterol lowering campaign.

    Cholesterol is an essential component of every cell membrane and important for myriad physiologic functions. When Dr. Uffe Ravnskov, MD PhD looked at the medical literature he found something quite surprising had been documented there. On average people with higher cholesterol live longer.

    The side effects of statins are myriad, rhabdomyolysis, (muscle injury), liver damage, in Crestor’s case kidney damage. Dr Duane Graveline an MD and former NASA astronaut has also compiled extensive data on a more rare statin side effect, global transient amnesia, which afflicted him and many others, he has written a book on it, “Lipitor thief of memory”.

    Don’t forget co-enzyme Q depletion. All this while the “lipid hypothesis” is falling like a house of cards as decades of intensive lipid lowering efforts have done nothing to improve heart disease rates.

  3. Ninja M says:

    March 24th, 2010at 4:56 am(#)

    CBC radio coverage of the vitamin D study that I heard yesterday afternoon said that the vit D levels were compared to out-of-date recommendations. The suggestion was that, should you compare to recommended levels based on the latest research, many more of us would be vit D deficient.

    I haven’t looked up the details myself, but that’s what CBC is telling me, so it must be true, right? ;)

  4. Tom says:

    March 24th, 2010at 5:31 am(#)

    What you need to know is what the body does with cholesterol and how. Cholesterol is pumped into the blood and the blood moves it to the skin. In the skin cholesterol is supposed to converted to vitamin D and the vitamin D is returned to the blood. The blood then moves the vitamin D to the liver for conversion to activated vitamin D which is then distributed to every cell in the body. When the cholesterol does not get converted the body pumps in more cholesterol expecting the desired conversion to vitamin D to supply the bodies needs. Elevated cholesterol and vitamin D deficiency go hand in hand. The only reason that the Inuit and Eskimo survive is beacuse they ate vitamin D rich foods (whale, seal, walrus blubber, char, eggs) becasue they had little UVB to convert cholesterol. Now that the Inuit have adopted a European diet they are suffering worse vitamin D deficiencies. In southern latitudes serum vitamin D is regulated via skin pigment to prevent toxic levels. In the far north the ancestral diet itself limited vitamin D. A high fat diet increases bile acidity, increased bile acidity flushes out fat solable vitamins like A and D. Deviate from environmental or dietary inputs based on latitude and vitamin D deficiency and related problems abound. We are so smart we are ignoring five million years of succesful evolution.

  5. Tom says:

    March 24th, 2010at 5:49 am(#)

    The answer is three fold… Follow our biology;

    1) Expose the skin to the sun’s UVB rays with no sunscreeen daily to convert cholesterol to vitamin D. Ten to twenty minutes daily between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM. This will not work in latitudes above 35 degrees October through April due to the zenith angle of the sun. The UVB index must be over 3.5 for there to be enough UVB to convert cholesterol to vitamin D.

    2) Eat a high fat diet rich in vitamin D in high latitudes.

    3) Supplement vitamin D year round.

    You can also mix and match the above the goal being 40-60 ng/ml of serum vitamin D year round. This mimics our ancient evolutionary inputs naked under the sun living at the equator.

    You can get too much vitamin D so this has to approached intelligently. This is why the body has stratagies to eliminate excess vitamin D natually. The body has no defense from too much daily supplementation via pills.

    Based on regional environment and diet our bodies managed this themselves. By ignoring ancestral environment and diet we defeat ourselves.

  6. Stephen Guy-Clarke says:

    May 27th, 2010at 4:16 am(#)

    Low levels of vitamin D may increase the risk of calcium build-up in the arteries, a significant component of atherosclerotic plaque. This fat-soluble vitamin is also involved in the regulation of the heartbeat.

    Food sources include fish liver oils, fatty saltwater fish, dairy products, and eggs. It is found in butter, cod liver oil, liver, milk, oatmeal, salmon, sardines, sweet potatoes, tuna, and vegetable oils.
    Vitamin D is also formed in the body in response to the action of sunlight on the skin.*

    * Some cholesterol-lowering drugs interfere with the absorption of vitamin D.

  7. benefits of vitamin d3 says:

    December 24th, 2010at 8:38 pm(#)

    Medical research has proven that a proper amount of vitamin d is essential to heart health, muscular development, and bone strength at all ages. It has also been shown to be indispensable for satisfactory brain and cognitive function, particularly among people over 50.

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