Triglyceride levels: Normal and Risks of High levels

Triglycerides Normal Range and Risks of High levels: A person’s triglyceride levels indicate how much of these fats are in the person’s blood.

What to know about triglyceride levels

In this article you will learn about triglycerides normal range, risks of high levels and more. A person’s triglyceride levels indicate how much of these fats are in the person’s blood. Someone can find out their levels with a simple blood test. Normal triglyceride levels may vary based on age and other factors.

Triglyceride levels may indicate overall health, and higher levels may increase the risk of health issues. Healthy diet and lifestyle choices can help keep triglyceride levels normal.

What are triglycerides?

A triglyceride (TG, triacylglycerol, TAG, or triacylglyceride) is an ester derived from glycerol and three fatty acids (from tri- and glyceride). Triglycerides are the main constituents of body fat in humans and other vertebrates, as well as vegetable fat. They are also present in the blood to enable the bidirectional transference of adipose fat and blood glucose from the liver, and are a major component of human skin oils.

Many types of triglycerides exist. One specific classification focuses on saturated and unsaturated types. Saturated fats have no C=C groups; unsaturated fats feature one or more C=C groups. Unsaturated fats tend to have a lower melting point than saturated analogues; as a result, they are often liquid at room temperature.

What are normal triglyceride levels?

Triglycerides are the most common type of fat in the body. The body makes triglycerides from the food a person eats. When the body does not need to use all the calories from a meal immediately, it converts the leftover food, especially carbohydrates, into triglycerides. The body can store these triglycerides for later use between meals when it needs more energy.

A person’s triglyceride levels go up naturally after a meal. Normal, desirable triglyceride levels are below 150 milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dl).

Fasting causes the triglyceride levels from food to go down. Because of this, fasting triglyceride levels are naturally lower. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute note that normal fasting triglyceride levels are about 90 mg/dl for adults and children over 10.

On the other hand, regularly eating more calories than the body can use may lead to higher levels of triglycerides. Other things affect this number as well. High triglycerides often do not cause any symptoms on their own, so a person may not know if they have high levels.

However, checking a person’s triglyceride levels is important because they are a risk factor for some conditions, including atherosclerosis and heart disease.

Triglycerides Normal Range by Age

Levels by age: Checking triglyceride levels is straightforward and only requires a simple blood test. Doctors may ask the person to fast for 8–12 hours before the test to check for fasting triglyceride levels. These may help give a better picture of a person’s levels overall. The results are generally measured as milligrams of triglycerides per decileter of blood, or mg/dl.

Adults

While this may vary slightly, in general, there are four ranges of blood triglyceride levels for adults. In this case, “normal” means the range people should aim for to stay healthy.

  • Normal: under 150 mg/dl
  • Borderline high: 151–199 mg/dl
  • High: over 200 mg/dl
  • Very high: over 500 mg/dl

Numbers may vary based on age and other risk factors a person may have.

Children and teenagers

Children may have slightly lower triglyceride levels than adults. Normal fasting triglyceride levels for children under the age of 10 are less than 75 mg/dl.

The ranges for children under 10 are:

  • Normal: under 75 mg/dl
  • Borderline high: 75–99 mg/dl
  • High: over 100 mg/dl

The ranges for children and teenagers ages 10–19 are slightly higher:

  • Normal: under 90 mg/dl
  • Borderline high: 90–129 mg/dl
  • High: over 130 mg/dl

What Causes High Triglycerides

The American Heart Association note that a number of factors may contribute to higher triglyceride levels.

Factors that may cause high level may include:

Some medications may also alter the body’s triglyceride levels. These may include:

  • diuretics
  • steroids
  • beta-blockers
  • hormones
  • immunosuppressant drugs

Before a person takes medication for high triglyceride levels, they should talk to a healthcare provider about proper use and potential side effects.

High Triglycerides Symptoms

Extremely high blood triglyceride levels, greater than 1,500 mg/dL, may cause the body to stop breaking down fats, which is called multifactorial chylomicronemia syndrome . Symptoms include short-term memory loss, swelling of the liver and spleen, stomach pain, and reddening or flushing of the skin with alcohol use.

Maintaining normal levels

Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise is often the first line of treatment doctors recommend to lower triglyceride levels and keep them in the normal range.

Diet

Diet is an important factor in maintaining normal triglyceride levels. In general, it is important to only eat the energy the body will use that day and avoid excess calories. A report posted to the journal Circulation lists some dietary tips for managing triglyceride and cholesterol levels.

It recommends eating a diet that emphasizes:

  • vegetables
  • fruit
  • whole grains
  • legumes
  • lean, healthful protein sources, such as low-fat poultry, low-fat dairy, seafood, and nuts
  • nontropical vegetable oils, such as olive oil

Additionally, it is important to limit the intake of:

  • added sugar
  • sweet and baked goods
  • alcohol
  • sugar-sweetened beverages
  • fatty meats

Exercise

Exercise is an important aspect of health for everyone and helps a person maintain a healthy weight. It may also help keep triglyceride levels low. Exercise promotes burning calories, which may help the body use extra triglycerides for energy.

The report in Circulation notes that, in general, adults should aim for at least three to four sessions of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per week. Each session should last at least 40 minutes.

Supplements and medications

In some cases, such as if a person needs to get their triglyceride levels down quickly or does not respond to diet and exercise, doctors may prescribe supplements or medications to help lower triglyceride levels.

These may include:

  • fish oil
  • niacin
  • fibrates
  • statins

It is possible that supplements or medications that lower triglycerides could interact with other medications a person is taking. Therefore, as with medications, take supplements under the direct guidance of a healthcare provider.

See: How to Lower Triglycerides

When to see a doctor

While high triglyceride levels typically do not cause symptoms, anyone concerned they may have high triglyceride or cholesterol levels should contact their doctor.

A doctor would usually measure triglyceride and cholesterol levels at the same time as high levels of either may contribute to heart conditions.

Doctors may recommend drug therapies in some cases. This may happen if a person has dangerously high triglyceride levels that need to come down quickly or if their levels do not respond to lifestyle and dietary changes.

What level of triglycerides is dangerous?

For good health, your triglyceride level should be less than 150 mg/dL. Borderline high levels are 150 to 199 mg/dL. High is 200 to 499 mg/dL. Very high is 500 mg/dL and greater.

Triglycerides diet: To lower the triglycerides level, limit your sugar intake, follow a lower-carb diet, eat more fibre, exercise regularly, avoid trans fats, increase your intake of unsaturated fats and limit your alcohol intake.

This article above expounds what you need know about triglycerides normal range, risks of high levels and more.

Also Read: 25 foods to lower triglycerides