We eat A LOT of eggs! In fact, we now have chickens, 13 to be exact, and we were so afraid we would be overrun with eggs. It is actually just the right amount for our family of 4 and our egg usage. Eggs are one of my foundation breakfast items...I typically eat one every morning.
Many of you grew up thinking that only the whites were good for you and that you should limit your yolk quantity (based on poorly performed research....long story). Please eat the yolks, that is where the nutrition is. An egg supplies almost everything you and your children need, nutritionally, except for the minerals found in the shell.
Is it Healthy to Give my Children That Much Cholesterol?
The answer in simple terms is, YES! It is very healthy, and almost essential to your growing child's needs. Children NEED dietary cholesterol and actually quite a bit of it.
Oh, that poor nutritional myth that dietary cholesterol increases heart disease. If you are still living this lie, change now. In fact, research, and dietary common sense, point to the opposite. In fact, having too little dietary cholesterol can cause an increase in LDL back cholesterol...okay, I am getting way off track here...children Sarah, we are talking children's diets (more on this at some other point, cause it is important for us grown ups).
So, back to children and dietary cholesterol! I want to talk specifically about this! There are so many other nutrients in eggs that are important for your child's health: 13 different vitamins and minerals, choline for brain health, protien for growing muscles, and Omega 3 Fatty Acids. But, today our focus is on the cholesterol, which many of you will be amazed to know is essential for your growing child.
Cholesterol for Learning and Memory
The brains of our children are growing like crazy! They are learning new things every single days, whether it is learning to walk, or learning Calculus. With each new thing that our children learn, new nerves must be formed, and multiple neurological functions must occur to store memories, and hold onto this knowledge.
This is where cholesterol comes in. The brain NEEDS cholesterol to work properly. The process of developing neurons for learning and memory is called synaptogenesis. Synaptogenesis requires cholesterol. The synapses between nerve cells in the brain is how they communicate. The more you have the quicker your brain can make connects, and the more effectively you can learn. This is important for our children who are making new connections every day. In an in vitro experiment done in Europe, external cholesterol was added to neuron, in culture. With this cholesterol exposure, neuron formation multiplied, leading scientists to conclude that cholesterol was vital to the formation of healthy nerve connections.
The understanding of cholesterol is complicated and involves many different parts of the body at different times, for different reasons. LDL and HDL bound cholesterols cannot cross the blood brain barrier, but the Liver has this really cool ability to convert cholesterol in the body (diet) into a form of cholesterol that CAN cross the blood brain barrier, and affect different receptors that contribute to brain neuron health. And this is why studies show that dietary cholesterol positively influences learning tasks.
Cholesterol and Hormones
Even if you're not dealing with a tween, whose hormones are raging, your child's hormone development and health is important.
Next to the brain, the biggest user of cholesterol is the endocrine (hormone) systems. Cholesterol is the foundation of our steroid hormones (DHEA, testosterone, estrone, estradiol, pregnenolone, progesterone, cortisol, corticosterone, aldosterone, and others). Without dietary cholesterol, these hormones don't exist.
Sex hormone imbalances in adolescence (especially young women) are become all too common. These hormones do more in the body than work on reproduction. Estradiol is necessary for the process we discussed above, the conversion of body cholesterol into a form that can pass through the blood brain barrier.
Testosterone is responsible for the growth of muscles and bone. Typically there is a burst of testosterone with each growth spurt.
Proper cortisol levels help your child navigate new experiences, and regulate their fight or flight response.
Many neurotransmitters needed for brain health, learning, memory, and attentiveness (Dopamine, GABA, Serotonin, Melatonin, Acetylcholine) are regulated by steroid hormones. Children who struggle with attentiveness often have lowered levels of steroid hormones. In fact the drug Ritalin is used to stimulate the production of a specific steroid hormone found low in ADHD children, DHEA. It is hypothesised that ADHD children need more cholesterol and fat than those without ADHD, because they need more steroid hormone.
Cholesterol and Vitamin D
The new pediatric guidelines recommend supplementing ALL children with Vitamin D3. Why? Because Vitamin D deficiency is an epidemic.
Do you know how Vitamin D is made?
Cholesterol, yes cholesterol, is the foundation of Vitamin D. UVB rays from the sun that enter the tissues come into contact with circulating cholesterol. With the help of zinc, UVB radiation changes cholesterol into Vitamin D.
Now, here is the kicker...why is everyone deficient. How, I have no way of researching, but I have my theories (and many scientists and research share the same view). My theory combines several different issues into one big problem.
So, based on this, my theory goes: Because we are nutritionally deficiency, and/or blocking the UVB rays needed, we are limiting our ability to process Vitamin D and thus becoming deficient.
Cholesterol and Zinc, almost, like an internal sunblock, grabbing the sun's rays and converting them into a needed hormone (yes Vitamin D is a steroid hormone).
Other Cholesterol Functions
There are many other functions of cholesterol, that for time, I want to quickly highlight.
Breakfast of Champions: