What is the function of lipids in the body?


Quick Answer

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences states that lipids store energy, insulate the body, and protect vital organs. Lipids also act as messengers and begin chemical reactions that control growth, immune function, reproduction and basic metabolism. They also help store certain nutrients, such as fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.

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Full Answer

While lipids are critical to many body functions, too many lipids in the blood can be harmful. The three main types of lipids in the body are HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Higher levels of HDL cholesterol, often referred to as "good" cholesterol, can decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke. HDL cholesterol removes cholesterol from the arteries, slowing the development of plaque that leads to blockages. On the other hand, high levels of LDL cholesterol or triglycerides may lead to an increase in blockages in the body's arteries.

The treatment for hyperlipidemia, or too many lipids in the blood, depends on the individual. The American Heart Association states that diet and regular exercise are usually the first steps. Medication may also be prescribed depending on the person's other health conditions. Hyperlipidemia is often reversible through healthy lifestyle choices and losing weight.

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