The Role of Lipids in the Body Donna pote Western Governors University We have all been told at one time or another to be careful to limit the amount of fat in our diets. The thing is, fats play an important role in our body. They store and provide energy, insulate and protect our organs, and act as messengers, helping protein do their jobs. They start chemical reactions that help our immune system, reproduction and other aspects of basic metabolism. (Dutchen, 2010) What is important to remember is there are two different kinds of fatty acids, saturated and unsaturated.
Sometimes referred to as the bad fat and the good fat. Saturated fats are made Of fatty acids that do not have any double bonded carbons, which means each carbon is bonded with as many hydrogens as it can accept. This type of fatty acid is able to pack tightly together due to its shape and because of this will usually be a solid at room temperature. We consume saturated fats when we eat animal products such as red meat, and whole milk dairy products, like cheese. Saturated fat can be found in coconut oil, which is a plant based.
This is the ype of fat that should be limited in our diet because they can raise the cholesterol level in our body to unhealthy levels. Unsaturated fats are also made from fatty acids, but they consist of double bonded carbons, which means they will have fewer hydrogens bonded to the carbons. The double bonded carbon causes the tail of this fatty acid to be bent, which prevents them from stacking together like saturated fats. Due to their shape they are usually a liquid at room temperature. Most unsaturated fats are considered essential, meaning the body does not produce them, so we must consume hem in our diet.
These are usually found in plant based products such as nuts, vegetable oil, and corn oil, as well as in fish. Pictured on the next page is a model of unsaturated and saturated fatty acid molecules, demonstrating their structure. As well as a diagram of the fluid mosaic model. (Wolfe, Thinkwell Biochemistry-section 2. 6-2 Saturated vs. Unsaturated Fats, 2000) (sanders, 201 3) Fatty acids role in storing energy and being broken down to make ATP is vital to the body. Besides obtaining these fats in our diets, we also get them from adipose tissue in the body and the liver.
The fatty acids start out as a triglyceride or a triacylglyceride and travel through the blood, enter tissues and used to form ATP. The triglycerides start as a glycerol molecule and three fatty acid chains. The glycerol molecule and the three fatty acid chains are broken apart and beta oxidation begins. In beta oxidation the fatty acid chain is broken into two carbon units and these generate acetyl-coA, which will then enter the citric acid cycle and travel to the electron transport chain to make A TP.
There are also electrons and hydrogens removed from the fatty cid and carried by NADH and FADH2, where it will ultimately be converted to ATP in the electron transport chain. Following a no fat diet, would put a halt to this process of being able to obtain energy, because there wouldn’t be enough fat. It would also have a major impact on the way the body functions and can ultimately lead to death. Fat is very important in the body’s ability to absorb certain vitamins. The fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K are essential nutrients that are stored in fat tissue.
Because these are essential vitamins, we need to consume them in our diet. Even if we consume enough of these vitamins in our diet, without the proper amount of fat in the diet, the body would not be able to absorb these vitamins. For example, vitamin K is needed for complete synthesis of proteins that are essential for blood coagulation. The body only stores small amounts of vitamin K that are rapidly used by the body, so proper diet is extremely important. It is the “essential cofactor for carboxylation of glutamic acid residue in many vitamin K- dependent proteins that are involved in blood coagulation. (Jane Higdon, 004) Without vitamin K, coagulation is impaired and uncontrolled bleeding can occur. Another problem with a no fat diet, is that a person is not consuming essential fatty acids, those we have to obtain in our diet. Linoleic acid and alpha linoleic acid are essential for our bodies. In the body these fatty acids are modified to make eicosanoids. These are the signaling molecules that have complex control over growth, inflammation, immunity, maintaining healthy skin, to name just a few. They are made by oxidation Of twenty carbon chain fatty acids.
The amount of these fatty acids in the diet ill affect the body’s ability to make these eicosanoids, therefore having a direct effect on all of the functions the eicosanoids are responsible for, including growth, immunity, healthy skin and a host of other jobs these are responsible for performing.