What Are Derived Lipids?

Derived lipids are the substances produced from simple and compound lipids through the process of hydrolysis. There are many different types of derived lipids, including alcohols, monoglycerides, diglycerides, fatty acids, terpenes, steroids and carotenoids, with the last three groups being the most common.

Steroids are derived lipids that are found in almost every species of animal and do not contain fatty acids. Terpenes are found mainly in plants, and this group includes substances such as natural rubber and many essential oils. Carotenoids are a type of tetraterpene produced only by plants, although they are widespread in both plants and animals as they remain in the body after carotenoid producing plants are eaten.

Lipids can be defined as either the esters of fatty acids and glycerol, or as fatty acid triglycerides. They can take the form of simple lipids, complex lipids and derived lipids. Most oils, plant and animal fats and glycerides are simple lipids, while the complex lipid group includes phospholipids, glycolipids and sphingophospholipids. Most waxes are also considered simple lipids, including carnauba and bees wax.

Lipids perform a number of different functions, including storage and insulation. The subcutaneous layers of fat in humans and other animals are constructed entirely of lipids.