Triglycerides store fat and are used by the body to create energy and serve as building blocks for cells. While they come from the fats in foods, they are also made in the liver from carbohydrates and proteins. Although the body needs some triglycerides, high levels in the blood can be a serious health problem and a risk factor for heart disease. For most people, a normal level would be under 150 mg/dL.
Triglycerides are the main storage form of fat in the body, and they are very important for the overall functioning of the body. They are used:
- To create energy
- As building blocks for cells.
They have a very important function, in that most cells in the body use triglycerides for energy. (One notable exception is the brain cells, which do not use them for energy.) They are the most concentrated form of energy found within the body, producing more than twice the amount of energy per gram than other forms of energy -- protein and carbohydrates. This is why the body can store large amounts of triglycerides.
They are also important because they break down to form other fats used to build cells within the body.
Triglycerides come from the fats in foods (saturated fat and unsaturated fat). They are also made in the liver from carbohydrates and proteins.
They are mostly stored in fat cells, but other cells (such as muscle cells) store some triglycerides.