What are lipids and what are their functions


Lipids have a fundamental role in health. They are essential in the body's energy reserve and are involved in important processes, such as the regulation of body temperature or the transport of nutrients, among others. You should also know that they are diverse substances with several origins, with a vital function in the feeding of all living beings. On the other hand, lipids are key to assimilate certain vitamins and for the metabolism to work properly, so its importance is very prominent. This term is usually included in matters related to nutrition and health, but in some cases its meaning is unknown.

What are lipids and what are their functions

To find out what lipids are and what their functions are, at we recommend that you continue reading this article.

What are lipids?

Wondering what lipids or fats are? Well, lipids are an important set of biological molecules that intervene in processes of the organism. They are found in the cell membrane and are the basis of hormone production. Although, above all, they are responsible for storing energy. These are made up of hydrogen and carbon and, to a lesser extent, contain nitrogen, sulfur or phosphorus. They are characterized by representing one of the main reserves of energy for the body and by being insoluble in water.

Although the concept of lipids is commonly used to refer to fat, we must emphasize that not all are fats, but it is true that all fats are lipids. There are different types classified according to the functions performed and according to their physical properties.

Types of lipids and examples

Lipids group together different compounds with important biological functions. Therefore, it is necessary to detail how they are classified. The types of lipids that exist are the following:

  • Cholesterol: it is a basic molecule for the body. It is not always bad, although many consider it. Cholesterol is found in cell membranes and is the precursor to different substances such as hormones (steroids) or certain vitamins. A certain amount of cholesterol is essential for the proper functioning of the body, but an excess cause it to accumulate in the blood vessels, and can become clogged at the risk of ischemic problems or heart attacks.
  • Phospholipids: they are composed of chains of fatty acids, glycerol and phosphate. They form the well-known hydrophobic structures, that is, they repel water. Their main function is the formation of cell membranes, but they also carry out actions, such as: the digestion of more fats in the small intestine. The body is able to generate the phospholipids it needs. Examples: phosphatidylcholine, phosphoinositide or phosphatidylserine.
  • Triglycerides: are formed by alcohol and fat. These are molecules that convert excess sugars or energy in the body, forming its energy reserves. As with cholesterol, an excess of triglycerides in the body is associated with health problems. Examples: triolein, trimiristine and triestearin.
  • Glycolipids: are fats that contain sugar molecules in their structure. Its main function is linked to the immune system. They are located in the outer area of the cell membrane and act as a signal to the immune system. Examples: globosides, sulfatides, galactose or glucose.
  • Steroids: are molecules formed by hormones and cholesterol. Estrogen or testosterone are some examples. They need cholesterol to be synthesized and perform activating and regulatory functions.

Wondering what normal cholesterol levels are? Do not miss this article of and find out in detail

What are the functions of lipids in the body

Wondering what the function of lipids is? Well, you should know that lipids carry out a series of essential functions, both structural and signaling in the body, depending on their type. These are as follows:

  • Creation of structures: Certain lipids form important structures in the body. Cell membranes are the most important example. These membranes are made up of specific lipids that, at the same time, are essential to protect and shape the cell.
  • Energy reserve: lipids have as their main function to serve as an energy reserve for the body. One gram of fat provides up to 9 kilocalories to the body. Whenever a person accumulates an excess of sugars, they are stored in the form of fat deposits. They are used when other sources of energy are lacking, such as carbohydrates.
  • Transport: there are certain lipids with functions that consist of transporting substances through the body, such as nutrients. This function of lipids is performed in conjunction with lipoproteins and bile acids. These are lipids with transporter function.
  • Cellular communication: cells communicate with each other using different substances that act as signals, such as hormones, the function of vitamins and glycolipids. They function as a regulation of certain secretions and other responses of the organism.
  • Thermal regulation: the fat deposits accumulated in the skin and in the environment of the organs function as protectors from the cold. The accumulated fat allows the heat not to dissipate to the outside, preventing the cooling of the body.

Also, if you want to know the Foods that have a lot of fat, do not miss this article of and identify and classify the foods you consume. Taking care of your health is essential to developing a healthy life!


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