Sterols (sterols) - organic alcohols, belonging to the group of steroids. Formed in all animal and plant organisms, are also found in microorganisms. Contained in natural fats and oils. Colorless crystals, soluble in organic solvents and is not soluble in water. The most important for human and animal cholesterol (see), a high content of which is the substance of the brain. In plants contains stigmasterol (particularly rich they soy beans), ergosterol (yeast, the LPV). A number of sterols when exposed to ultraviolet rays becomes vitamins D. Biological value of sterols is defined their role predecessors steroid hormones, bile acids and vitamin D in the body. Some sterols have pharmacological value: they are used for the synthesis of sex hormones (stigmasterol) and for industrial production of vitamin D2 (ergosterol).
Cm. also Steroids.