VLDL stands for very low density lipoprotein. It is one of three commonly known types of cholesterol. The two other types are LDL (low density lipoprotein) and HDL (high density lipoprotein). Measuring the levels of cholesterol in your body helps reveal your metabolic state. There are two ways to calculate how much VLDL is in your blood stream.
There is no simple way to directly measure VLDL. It is usually inferred from your other serum cholesterol numbers. Although laboratory results normally do not give a number for VLDL, you can easily calculate it by taking the total amount of cholesterol and subtracting out both the LDL and HDL. This calculation is a good estimate but is not exact.
This is because VLDL can morph into a few other lesser known types of cholesterol. These include IDL (intermediate density lipoprotein), nascent VLDL and VLDL remnants, which are sometimes included in the LDL number. The first basic formula for creating a VLDL estimate is as follows: Total Cholesterol -- HDL -- LDL = VLDL
A high level of triglycerides in your bloodstream is considered a warning sign for cardiovascular health. Hyperlipidemia is a condition that can be associated with high counts of one or all of the various lipids discussed here. It can also be a precursor to or indication of a variety of chronic conditions. These include cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, diabetes, hypothyroidism, and certain pancreatic disorders.
Typically, a high level of VLDL corresponds to a high level of triglycerides in your blood. There are approximately one-fifth the number of VLDL molecules as there are triglycerides in your blood at any given moment. This means the second way to calculate the VLDL number is: Triglycerides / 5 = VLDL
Importance of Calculating VLDL
VLDL carries triglycerides (fat) to and from various body tissues as needed for energy or storage purposes. It works in close concert with HDL and LDL, along with various enzymes. These enzymes include apolipoprotein C-II, apolipoprotein E, and lipoprotein laprase. They can actually reduce the triglyceride load of an individual VLDL molecule and turn it into LDL.
LDL is the transport mechanism from your liver to the rest of your body. A high LDL count means your body is accumulating more fats. HDL is the mechanism that directs these substances to your liver. Fats and cholesterol can then be excreted from your body as part of the bile through your intestines. This means your body has a healthy ability to get rid of excess fat and cholesterol.
HDL is usually called "good" cholesterol. LDL is often referred to as "bad." In contrast, the health consequences associated with VLDL numbers are often ignored entirely. However, high levels of VLDL are not innocuous. All three types of cholesterol can be indicators of cardiovascular trouble depending on the amount of each and the ratio of one type to another in your blood. Tracking changes over time shows whether your health is improving or deteriorating.