Cholesterol Home > Triglycerides

How Do They Move?

Since your body needs them to work properly, triglycerides need to get to all your cells. They do this by traveling through the bloodstream. But because they contain fat, they separate from the blood (similar to the way that oil separates from water).
To keep this from happening, proteins form a shell around them, making a "complex." The complex is then released into the bloodstream and travels where it needs to go.
A protein that is linked to triglycerides to form this complex is called a "lipoprotein." There are several different types of lipoproteins. You may have heard of some of these lipoproteins because they are the same ones that transport cholesterol. Lipoprotein complexes that carry triglycerides include:
  • Very low density lipoprotein (VLDL)
  • Chylomicrons
  • Intermediate density lipoprotein (IDL).

Triglycerides Levels in Blood

Normally, there are low levels of triglycerides in the blood. When a person eats, triglycerides are absorbed from the intestines and packaged into their lipoprotein carriers (chylomicrons). They are then carried within the blood, mostly to fat cells within the body. Carbohydrates and proteins that are consumed get sent to the liver where most are converted into triglycerides. These triglycerides are then packaged into other lipoprotein carriers (VLDL) and carried within the blood to fat cells.
So high levels of triglycerides in the blood (known as hypertriglyceridemia) occur naturally following meals. Within a couple of hours, most chylomicrons have delivered their triglycerides. After about 9 hours, most VLDLs have delivered their triglycerides.
Different levels in the blood are categorized below:
Triglyceride Levels                                           Triglyceride Category
Less than 150 mg/dL
150-199 mg/dL
200-499 mg/dL
500 mg/dL or above
Very High
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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