Q:

What are the five functions of lipids?

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Quick Answer

The five functions of lipids are: acting as an energy source, providing insulation and protection to organs, giving structure to cell membranes, insulation and generating heat when temperatures change. Most people have enough lipids to act as a food source for 24 to 30 days.

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Full Answer

The five functions of lipids include:

  • Acting as an energy source - although the body uses carbohydrates as its primary form of energy, it can turn to lipids when it needs a reserve. Most people weighing 154 pounds have enough lipids to carry them through 24 to 30 days without food.
  • Protecting and structuring organs - various organs are surrounded by fat pads that protect them and give them structure. For example, the renal fat pads keep the kidneys in place and prevent kinks in the ureters.
  • Insulation - layers of fat under the skin insulate the body when temperatures drop.
  • Generating heat - when skin temperatures drop too far, layers of fat beneath the skin metabolize to raise them.
  • Giving cell membranes structure - most cell membranes feature lipid bilayers. In addition to giving them structure, this layer plays a role in signaling by allowing signaling proteins to lock into it. In addition, the lipid component allows the cell membrane to remain hydrophobic, which prevents too many molecules from moving through.
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