Steroids are derived from steroid compounds with a tetracyclic structure, and they are found in all plants and animals. The body can synthesize cholesterol and also readily absorbs cholesterol from food through the intestinal wall. Cholesterol is associated with the production of gallstones and it can also harden arteries. The biochemical turnover and degradation of cholesterol produces many steroids that are important in human biochemistry. Steroids have two main biological functions: as important components of cell membranes that alter the fluidity of cell membranes; and as signaling molecules. Hundreds of steroids are found in plants, animals and fungi.
Widely distributed in biology, characterized by a β-hydroxyl group at the 3rd carbon atom and a side chain at the 17th position. Sterols of animal embryonic tissues and skin as well as plant sterols such as soy sterols also have a double bond on the side chain. In living organisms sterols exist as free (non-esterified form) or as fatty acid esters.
Cholesterol, also known as cholesterol, is an important component of vertebrate cells, with the highest levels (wet weight percent) in nerve tissue and adrenal glands, the lowest levels in the heart, and considerable levels in the liver, kidney, and skin. Gallstones in the human body are mainly composed of cholesterol.
Plant sterols are an important component of plant cells and cannot be absorbed and utilized by animal bodies. Soy sterols and gluten sterols are both derivatives of soya steranes and have two more carbon atoms than cholesterol, with an ethyl group on C-24.
Ergosterol is the main sterol fraction of yeast, ergot. A steroidal compound containing 28 carbon atoms. It is converted to vitamin D2 by UV light. Vitamin D plays a key role in the in vivo balance of calcium and phosphorus in animals.
Bile acids and bile alcohols: degradation products of cholesterol in mammals and other vertebrates.
The ecdysteroids of insects and crustaceans are derivatives of cholestanes and are structurally characterized by a double bond between C-7 and C-8, a C-6 ketone group, 2β, 3β, 14α hydroxyl groups and C-22 and C-25 hydroxyl groups on the side chain.
Present in the plant, is a derivative of spirostanes, through the 3β-hydroxyl group and sugar combined into a glycoside that is saponin. It is named for its ability to form soap-like solutions and its surface activity.
Steroid abuse can have many side effects. It can cause acne, pimples, gynecomastia; and in severe cases can be life threatening, such as heart and liver cancer. Most side effects can be reversed if stopped in time, but some are permanent.