Triglycerides help store fat in the body that can be metabolized later to provide energy to all parts of the body, excluding the brain. Normal triglyceride levels range between 35 and 150 mg/dl. It is far more common to have high triglyceride levels than low ones; however, there are a few things that can cause low triglyceride levels. Whether low triglycerides should be of concern depends on other health factors.
When the body does not get enough of a particular nutrient, health problems ensue. When the nutrient is fat, this sometimes results in the body exhausting its fat stores, which greatly reduces triglyceride levels. Some causes of malnutrition are anorexia, neglect and alcoholism. When low triglyceride levels result from malnutrition, it is necessary to make appropriate changes to the diet in order to replenish the fat stores.
Low-Fat or Fat-Free Diet
If fat is eliminated from the diet, triglyceride levels often plummet, resulting in fatigue and other possible health complications. Although doctors recommend limiting saturated fats and trans-fats, it is not advisable to eliminate these completely. Most types of fatty acids can be made in the body but others must be ingested in food.
People who suffer from hyperthyroidism will often have low triglycerides owing to an elevated metabolic rate. Hyperthyroidism causes the thyroid gland to overproduce the hormones tri-iodothyroxine, or T3, and thyroxine, or T4. These hormones are responsible for regulating metabolism and other functions essential for growth. Hyperthyroidism can be treated with medications or radiation.
Triglyceride production can be hampered by malabsorption syndrome when it involves the body's impaired absorption of fats. Malabsorption syndrome is often related to AIDS, cancer, liver disease and radiation treatments and typically involves the poor absorption of other nutrients as well.
Drugs and supplements that are used to lower cholesterol levels often decrease triglyceride levels as well. Fish oil, nicotinic acid and statins are common culprits in this regard. Patients taking these medications and supplements who also suffer from low triglycerides should consult a doctor regarding possible modifications of their drug regimen.