How The Body Uses Lipids

Lipids are a large group of organic molecules, that contain carbon, and are insoluble in water, but soluble in alcohol. Lipids are divided into three groups: triglycerides, phospholipids and steroids.

TRIGLYCERIDES Long Term Energy Stores

Triglycerides are made up of one glycerol molecule (an alcohol) attached to three long chains of fatty acids. The glycerol structure is found in all triglycerides, however the fatty acids chains vary in structure, thus creating a large number of different triglycerides.

Fatty acids produce a lot of energy in cell when metabolized. Being insoluble in water makes them a great energy source. Most of the bodies energy is derived from fatty acids. Making fatty acids an important in overall health and muscle metabolism.


Based on the carbons and hydrogens. The more hydrogen that attaches to a carbon produces a saturated fat. The less hydrogen attached to a carbon allowing more water to be present produces unsaturated fats.  Fat that is solid at room temperature are saturated fats. Liquid fats are unsaturated. Unsaturated fats have two divisions: mono and polyunsaturated fats. Both saturated and unsaturated fats are necessary for proper physiological functioning of the body systems.

PHOSPHOLIPIDS building blocks of cell membranes

Phospholipids resemble triglycerides, due to the similar glycerol structure they both have in common. But the phospholipid only has two fatty acid chains, unlike the three in triglycerides (hence the name TRI-Glyceride), they have a phosphorous head attached. The tail contains no electrical charge and is made up of two fatty acid chains. By the tail not being electrically charged a phospholipid it is insoluble,however the head is electrically charged and is soluble in water. It is the property that makes phospholipids ideal building blocks for the cell membrane.

There are two layers to a cell membrane that are made up of phospholipid molecules: the “water-hating” (hydrophobic)tails point towards each other, whereas the “water loving” (hydrophilic) heads point toward the water which is present inside and outside the cell.


Steroids are fat soluble, which puts them into the lipid category. Cholesterol is a known steroid that helps build tissue in the body. Without proper cholesterol levels in the blood system the body systems become compromised. The brain needs healthy amounts of cholesterol on a daily basis to function properly. Cholesterol is feared in America as being a bad thing. But it is essential in the proper health mechanisms of cell.

Fats are also major players in the production of Fat-Soluble Vitamins, Eicosanoids, Liproteins.

Fat-Soluble Vitamins.

A,D,E,K can only be absorbed after they have bound to ingested lipids, therefore must be derived from dietary fat sources.


These include prostoglandins, and leukotrieries, which are both involved in the inflammation, and thromboxanes, which cause blood vessels to constrict.


These help transport fatty acids and cholesterol in the bloodstream. The two most common are High Density Lipoproteins and Low Density Lipoproteins.

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THanks for visiting.

Daryl Conant, M.Ed

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