Cholesterol is vitally important for brain function. While your brain represents about 2-3% of your total body weight, 25% of the cholesterol in your body is found in your brain, where it plays important roles in such things as membrane function, acts as an antioxidant, and serves as the raw material from which we are able to make things like progesterone, estrogen, cortisol, testosterone and even vitamin D.
In fact, in a recent study available on the NIH Public Access site, researchers showed that in the elderly, the best memory function was observed in those with the highest levels of cholesterol. Low cholesterol is associated with an increased risk for depression and even death.
This understanding of the important role of cholesterol in brain function raises concern as we now see changes in recommendations for prescribing statin medication. Some estimates indicate that moving forward, the number of individuals taking statins to lower cholesterol in America may actually double! This presents a worrisome proposition for brain health.