Illustration of plaque on arterial walls due to VLDL cholesterol above the normal range

VLDL cholesterol normal range: here's what to know

Written on March 7, 2023 by Theresa Vuskovich, DMD. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

Table of contents

Very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) is a form of bad cholesterol often overlooked during routine blood tests [1,2]. However, VLDL plays a significant role in the development of heart disease [8]. As a result, it's important to know the VLDL cholesterol normal range. This article explains VLDL and how you can lower your VLDL levels.

What is very low-density lipoprotein?

VLDL is produced by your liver and transports triglycerides to your tissues [1-3]. Triglyceride and cholesterol are the two types of fats in your blood [4]. Triglycerides are the primary form of fat in your blood. When you eat too many calories, your body stores the extra calories as triglycerides in your adipose tissue (i.e., body fat).

Cholesterol is another type of fat in your blood. Your body uses cholesterol to create cells and some hormones. Your liver produces cholesterol, and you also get cholesterol from eating animal products. The blood transports lipids, which are essential for the body to function properly. The body transports lipids by forming lipoproteins (a combination of proteins and lipids).

There are four types of lipoproteins (fat combined with protein) in your blood [4-6,8]:

  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL): HDL is known as the "good" or "happy" cholesterol. HDL carries cholesterol to your liver and prevents extra fat from building up in your arteries. High HDL levels are beneficial because they help your body remove excess lipids in the blood, which can reduce your risk of heart disease.
  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL): LDL also carries cholesterol, but instead of transporting it to the liver, the cholesterol is sent to your arteries, increasing your risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease. This is why LDL is called the "bad" cholesterol.
  • Very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL): VLDL transports the highest amount of triglycerides from the liver to the tissues. VLDL can also transport cholesterol, but it primarily transports triglycerides.
  • Chylomicrons: Chylomicrons also transport triglycerides from the intestine to other tissues. Chylomicrons are the lowest-density lipid.

Proteins help lipids circulate in your blood. Lipids are not water-soluble, and your blood plasma is approximately 90% water [4]. Your body packages lipids and proteins together to ensure lipids can travel freely in your blood. A lipoprotein's density is directly related to its protein content [3]. Chylomicrons have the least protein and the lowest density of all lipoproteins.

Triglycerides in your blood come from two sources: your diet and your liver. Triglycerides from your diet are transported by chylomicrons, whereas VLDLs transport triglycerides created by the liver [6]. Having high levels of VLDL is considered bad because excess triglycerides in the blood increase your risk of heart disease [6].

What is hypertriglyceridemia?

Hypertriglyceridemia is a condition caused by high triglyceride levels [6]. When your triglyceride levels are high, you are at a greater risk of heart disease [6]. Hypertriglyceridemia is a form of dyslipidemia, meaning your body has an unhealthy lipid profile.

Hypertriglyceridemia is caused by [6]:

  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Excess alcohol
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Medications (estrogens, tamoxifen, isotretinoin, corticosteroids, and antihypertensives)
  • Nonalcoholic fatty-liver disorder
  • Genetics

Familial hypertriglyceridemia (type IV familial dyslipidemia) is a genetic disorder caused by excessive production of VLDL from the liver. [6,9] The condition is rare and is caused by multiple alterations in genes (polygenic) [6,9]. Having familial hypertriglyceridemia increases your risk of heart disease [6,9].

What is a normal VLDL range?

VLDL levels are not directly measured during a blood test. VLDL levels are calculated based on the amount of triglycerides in your blood. Your VLDL is calculated as 20% of your triglyceride levels.

A normal triglyceride level is less than 150 mg/dL (1.7 mmol/L) [7]. Consequently, 30 mg/dL is the maximum healthy level of VLDL. A normal VLDL range is between 2 and 30 mg/dL.

What can you do to lower your VLDL level?

You can lower your VLDL level by lowering your overall triglyceride and cholesterol levels [10-12]. Here are five steps to maintain a healthy lipid balance [10-12]:

  1. Select healthy foods: Animal products are the primary source of excess cholesterol in your body. Select more foods high in fiber and low in saturated fat. Examples are oatmeal and beans. Eating more foods rich in unsaturated fats, such as avocados and olive oil, may help increase the good form of cholesterol, HDL.
  2. Exercise every week: Get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week.
  3. Stop smoking
  4. Drink in moderation: A maximum of two daily drinks is recommended for men and one for women.
  5. Take your lipid-lowering medication as directed: If you are diagnosed with a lipid condition, your healthcare provider may prescribe a statin, fibrate, or nicotinic acid.

Many people are unaware they have a lipid imbalance. The only way to know if you have high lipid levels is to take a blood test [5].

Discover your cholesterol and lipid levels with Everlywell

Everlywell offers an at-home cholesterol and lipid blood test you can take in the comfort of your home. If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or a family history of heart disease, it is essential to know your cholesterol and lipid levels.

Your cholesterol and lipid blood test results will reveal your total cholesterol, HDL, calculated LDL, and triglyceride levels. An easy-to-understand online report lets you know whether your levels are optimal. Everywell encourages you to share your results with your healthcare provider.

Virtual care visits via Everlywell let you connect with a healthcare provider from anywhere. Making an appointment with Everlywell's online scheduler for virtual care visits is easy.

What are good cholesterol numbers?

How to understand cholesterol test results

VLDL vs. LDL: Understanding the differences


  1. VLDL cholesterol: Is it harmful? Mayo Clinic. Published June 17, 2022. URL. Accessed February 28, 2023.
  2. Venugopal SK, Anoruo M, Jialal I. Biochemistry, Low-Density Lipoprotein. StatPearls Publishing; 2022. URL
  3. Overview of Cholesterol and Lipid Disorders. Merck Manuals Consumer Version. URL. Accessed February 28, 2023.
  4. About cholesterol. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. URL. Published December 14, 2022. Accessed February 28, 2023.
  5. Yuan, G., Al-Shali, K.Z., Hegele, R.A., 2007. Hypertriglyceridemia: its etiology, effects, and treatment. Canadian Medical Association Journal 176, 1113–1120.. URL
  6. Table: Desirable lipid levels in adults. Merck Manuals Consumer Version. URL. Accessed February 28, 2023.
  7. Lee HC, Akhmedov A, Chen CH. Spotlight on very-low-density lipoprotein as a driver of cardiometabolic disorders: Implications for disease progression and mechanistic insights. Front Cardiovasc Med. 2022;9:993633. Published 2022 October 4. doi:10.3389/fcvm.2022.993633. URL
  8. Goyal A, Cusick AS, Reilly E. Familial Hypertriglyceridemia. StatPearls Publishing; 2022. URL
  9. Grundy SM, Stone NJ, Bailey AL, et al. 2018 AHA/ACC/AACVPR/AAPA/ABC/ACPM/ADA/AGS/APhA/ASPC/NLA/PCNA guideline on the management of blood cholesterol: A report of the American college of cardiology/American heart association task force on clinical practice guidelines: A report of the American college of cardiology/American heart association task force on clinical practice guidelines. Circulation. 2019;139(25):e1082-e1143. doi:10.1161/CIR.0000000000000625. URL
  10. Cholesterol-lowering medicines. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. URL. Published October 27, 2022. Accessed February 28, 2023.
  11. Prevent high cholesterol. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. URL. Published December 14, 2022. Accessed February 28, 2023.
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