A level of 34 mg/dL is considered elevated. Although cholesterol serves several important functions, elevated VLDL cholesterol may put you at greater risk for heart disease.
Elevated VLDL cholesterol doesn’t have symptoms, which is why it’s important to know your levels. Lowering them will lower your risk of developing heart disease and other health issues.
If you already have heart disease, lowering your cholesterol can reduce your odds of serious complications, like a heart attack or stroke.
Diet: Diets that are high in saturated fats, trans fats, added sugar, and low in fiber can lead to elevated VLDL levels.
Weight: Having excess fat, particularly around the abdomen, can also increase VLDL.
Physical activity: Being active can help lower VLDL levels by lowering your triglycerides. Learn more about triglycerides and what your levels mean here
Medications: Certain medicines can raise your VLDL levels secondary to your triglyceride levels. These include corticosteroids, beta-blockers, thiazide diuretics, antivirals, and estrogen.
Some medical conditions: Diseases involving the thyroid, liver, or kidney, as well as poorly controlled type 2 diabetes, can change triglyceride and VLDL levels.
Age and sex: Premenopausal women tend to have lower total cholesterol levels
total cholesterol levelsthan men of the same age. However, cholesterol levels tend to increase with age in both women and men. After the age of menopause, women's VLDL and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels tend to rise.
Genetics (heredity): High blood cholesterol can run in families because your genes partly determine how much cholesterol your body makes. If high cholesterol runs in your family, you may be more likely to have high cholesterol as well.
Smoking: Smoking lowers your HDL (good) cholesterol, which can contribute to a higher level of VLDL (bad) cholesterol. Learn what your HDL levels mean here
Excessive alcohol consumption: Heavy drinking can indirectly increase VLDL levels by raising triglyceride levels.
The best way to lower VLDL is to reduce your triglycerides [ 1
1]. You can do this by:
Exercising for 30-60 minutes 5x/week.
Losing excess weight if you are overweight or obese.
Avoiding refined carbohydrates and limiting added sugars to less than <25 g/day.
Limiting your consumption of alcohol to <1-2 drinks/day.
Eating healthier fats like those found in nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, and salmon.
Avoiding trans fats and limiting saturated fat to <10% of total calories.
If diet and lifestyle changes do not lower triglyceride and VLDL levels enough on their own, some medications and supplements may help.
Prescription niacin: Niacin is a B vitamin that, when taken at prescription doses, can lower VLDL levels by reducing its production in the liver and improving HDL cholesterol levels [ 2
Fibrates: Help lower high triglyceride levels and may also help raise HDL cholesterol.
Statins: Statins reduce cholesterol production in your liver and can effectively reduce VLDL levels [ 3 4
3]. Statins are only prescribed if diet and lifestyle changes aren’t enough [
4]. Some common statin medications include atorvastatin, simvastatin, and rosuvastatin.
Fish oil: The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil
omega-3 fatty acids in fish oilcan help lower your triglycerides and therefore reduce VLDL as well. Prescription fish oil contains more active fatty acids than many nonprescription supplements but can interfere with blood clotting, so check with a doctor before taking a high-dose supplement.
If you want to lower your cholesterol but don’t know where to start, you may want to give Elo Health a try. Elo provides curated nutrition recommendations based on your biomarker scores to create personalized supplements that fit your needs. You also get 1:1 dietitian coaching to further help you reach your health goals. Learn more about how we can help lower your cholesterol and optimize your nutrition here
VLDL cholesterol: Is it harmful? (2022, June 17). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved October 3, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/expert-answers/vldl-cholesterol/faq-20058275
McKenney J. (2004). New perspectives on the use of niacin in the treatment of lipid disorders. Archives of internal medicine, 164(7), 697–705. https://doi.org/10.1001/archinte.164.7.697
Ginsberg H. N. (1998). Effects of statins on triglyceride metabolism. The American journal of cardiology, 81(4A), 32B–35B. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0002-9149(98)00035-6
Carotid Artery Disease. (n.d.). National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute | NIH. Retrieved September 9, 2021, from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/carotid-artery-disease