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Structure and Function of Lipids

Structure and Function of Lipids

Introduction: Lipids are also called fats. They are not soluble in water because they contain many nonpolar covalent bonds between their atoms. There are several different kinds of lipids, each with a particular function. 

Fats and oils are primarily used to store energy for the long term. Unlike a carbohydrate that can provide a quick burst of energy, these lipids provide it over a longer duration. 

Phospholipids are the primary components of cell membranes.

Animal cells contain fat that is used for insulation when the temperatures get cold.

Oils and waxes cover many surfaces (such as hair, skin, fur, and leaf cuticles) and offer protection against evaporation.

Like all other organic molecules, lipids are composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, but they tend to form long chains. The monomers of lipids are called fatty acids and glycerol (see the diagram below). Lipids can be considered saturated or unsaturated. Because they often form long chains, they have many places where hydrogen atoms can bond to the carbon. If all of the carbons have hydrogens attached, the lipid if saturated. If there are still places where more hydrogen can attach, the lipid chain is unsaturated.

Common lipids are cholesterol, which is known to clog arteries in humans, and steroids, such as estrogen and testosterone.

Directions for this Lesson: Answer the practice questions and watch the videos to learn more about the structure and function of lipids.

Required Videos: