Blood Testing: What’s Optimal For Triglycerides?

In terms of all-cause mortality risk, is the reference range for circulating triglycerides (TG, <150 mg/dL) optimal?

A meta-analysis of 38 studies in 360,556 subjects with a median age of 48y and a 12-year follow-up reported lowest all-cause mortality risk for subjects with TG values less than 90 mg/dL (equivalent to ~1 mmol; Liu et al. 2013). As shown below, each successive 90 mg/dL increase was associated with a 12% higher all-cause mortality risk. A person with a value closer to the high end of the reference range, ~150 would have a ~7% increased mortality risk compared someone with a value ~90. In other words, there would be 7 more deaths per 100 total people at a TG value of 150, compared with the death rate for people with values less than 90.

tg mortal

Added importance for the association between TG values less than 90 with all-cause mortality risk come from studies of people who have lived longer than 100 years, centenarians. As shown below, triglyceride values less than 101 mg/dL have been reported in 9 of 11 centenarian studies:

tg mort

What’s my TG value? As shown below, I’ve measured triglycerides 23 times since 2015, with an average value of 52 mg/dL:tg 2020

With the goal of keeping triglyceride levels low, are there dietary factors that influence it? When compared with my dietary data, the strongest correlation (r = 0.73, R2=0.5339) is present for triglycerides with my calorie intake. In other words, a higher daily calorie intake is associated with higher levels of triglycerides:

tg vs cals 2020

Based on this correlation, should my triglycerides start to rise in the future, a first step would be reducing my average daily calorie intake, which since October 2019 has been ~2550 calories/day.


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Liu J, Zeng FF, Liu ZM, Zhang CX, Ling WH, Chen YM. Effects of blood triglycerides on cardiovascular and all-cause mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis of 61 prospective studies. Lipids Health Dis. 2013 Oct 29;12:159.

Michael Lustgarten

Ph.D, Physiology, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, 2009 B.S., Biochemistry, Queens College, 2003 B.A, English Textual Studies, 1994, Syracuse University

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