Fats & Lipids

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Fats and lipids in your diet

Fats and lipids are necessary for a couple of reasons - they are high concentrations of energy, contain fatty acids and acts as carrier of fat soluble vitamins.

On the whole, the modern diet may contain too much fat, since fat is contained in so many hidden items in our diet.

In nutrition, all fats, oils and fat-like substances are classified as lipids and are all insoluble in water and are made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.

If a lipid is fluid at room temperature we normally refer to it as oil, while if it is solid we normally refer to it as fat - but both are mixtures of triglycerides.

Triglycerides are esters of glycerol containing three fatty acids - normally two or three different ones. When hydrolysis is achieved by heat or the enzymes lipase, glycerol, fatty acids, diglycerides and monoglycerides are yielded.

Glycerol is an alcohol which contains three carbon atoms and three hydroxyl groups, which can combine with fatty acids to form mono, di or triglycerides.

Fatty acids can be classified as saturated or unsaturated - depending on the presence or absence of double bonds. Polyunsaturated fatty acids have been shown to lower cholesterol blood levels in certain circumstances while saturated fatty acids tend to raise them.

Oils from vegetable sources are mostly polyunsaturated except for coconut oil, which is nearly 90% saturated. Saturated oils, mostly from animal sources are also mostly solid at room temperature and require greater temperatures to reach melting point.

Di-glycerides and mono-glycerides are esters of glycerol containing either two (di) or one (mono) fatty acids and are formed during the digestion of triglycerides.

Phospholipids are compounds found in cell membranes and are essential for certain enzyme actions, the transport of lipids in plasma and an energy source. One of the most abundant types are lecithin which also contains choline - useful in preventing the accumulation of fat in the liver.

<.....learn more on types of fats>

Essential fatty acids

Essential fatty acids are also referred to as vitamin F, and is composed of two fatty acids - that being linoleic acid and alpha-linoleic acid. (LA & ALNA)

The human body requires essential fatty acids for normal growth, behavior, maintenance of cell membranes, a working immune system as well as a balance in hormone levels.

Furthermore, the skin needs it to stay youthful and supple and is it also required to utilize the energy contained in the fat stores in the body.

Deficiency of essential fatty acids: A major deficiency may cause damage to the heart, as well as the kidneys and liver. Behavior disturbances may also result from a deficiency in the diet.

Hair loss and skin eczema have also been reported as well as excessive sweating.

An under-par immune system may result from a shortage of this nutrient which in turn may result in slow healing wounds, and susceptibility to infections etc.

Stiffness in joints may happen, and an under secretion of tear and saliva may be indicative of too little essential fatty acids in the diet.

It has also been suggested that it may have an influence on infertility in men and miscarriages in women.

Blood pressure may be elevated and the formation of blood clots may be an increased risk to contend with.

Dosage: Dosage is not known.

Toxicity and symptoms of high intake: No toxicity has been reported in healthy individuals but people with health problems should be careful with taking any supplements.

People suffering from epilepsy should be careful of taking supplements of seed oils, as they can aggravate the problem, while people with blood disorders or a problem with bleeding should be careful of fish oil supplements.

Should you be taking a supplement of essential fatty acids, it would be recommended that you first discuss it with your health professional.

Best used with: To ensure maximum absorption, make sure that you have sufficient vitamin B3, B6, ascorbic acid, vitamin E, biotin as well as the minerals zinc, magnesium and selenium in your system.

When more may be required: Should you be suffering from dry chapped skin, dry eyes, cold hands and feet, bruise easily, have frequent infections or brittle nails and dry hair it may be worth your while to check your dietary intake of essential fatty acids.

Enemy of essential fatty acids: Light, air and processing should be well controlled and limited storage time is indicated.

Other interesting points: When buying a commercial supplement ensure that you get it from a trusted source, since this nutrient is not very stable.

Food sources of essential fatty acids: It is found in grains, nuts and seeds, soybeans, sunflower seed, flax seeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds etc while oil from salmon, trout, tuna and mackerel, as well as borage, blackcurrant and evening primrose oil can substitute some of the functions of the LA and ALNA.


Lecithin is a type of lipid and is needed by every living cell in the human body.

Cell membranes as well as the protective sheath surrounding the brain are composed mostly of lecithin and is also found in the muscles and nerve cells.

It consists mainly of the vitamin B ingredients choline as well as linoleic acid and inositol.

Lecithin is partly soluble and acts as an emulsifying agent in the body, and is helpful in the prevention of arteriosclerosis, improving brain function and aiding in the absorption of thiamin by the liver as well as vitamin A by the intestines.

It is known to promote energy and to repair damage to the liver caused by alcoholism and toxicity.

Because of the emulsifying properties of lecithin it enables fat, such as cholesterol and other lipids, to be dispersed in water and be removed from the body.

It is vitally important in the protection of fatty build-up in the body.

The above opinionated views and information serves to educated and informed consumer .  The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. .It should not replaced professional advise and consultation.  A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions 

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