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The Role and Importance of Fats

Vitamins A, D, E and K, called fat-soluble vitamins, require an adequate daily fat intake to function properly. These vitamins are essential parts of your daily diet. Vitamin A keeps your eyes healthy and promotes good vision, vitamin D assists in keeping your bones strong by boosting calcium absorption, vitamin E protects cells by neutralizing free radicals and vitamin K is important for blood clotting.

Aid Physiological Development

  • Vitamins A, D, E and K, called fat-soluble vitamins, require an adequate daily fat intake to function properly. These vitamins are essential parts of your daily diet. Vitamin A keeps your eyes healthy and promotes good vision, vitamin D assists in keeping your bones strong by boosting calcium absorption, vitamin E protects cells by neutralizing free radicals and vitamin K is important for blood clotting. Similarly, you can reduce the probability of mineral deficiency diseases like osteoporosis by eating enough saturated fats.
  • Insulation, temperature regulation and protection – Fat cells, stored in adipose tissue, insulate your body and help sustain a normal core body temperature. Stored fats surround vital organs and keep them protected from sudden movements or outside impacts.
  • Cognitive function and vision – The myelin sheath is a fatty insulating layer that speeds transmission of nerve impulses along neurons. Without myelin, our nervous systems couldn’t function properly. In multiple sclerosis, people gradually lose the myelin in parts of their brain, which causes problems with movement, sight and thinking. Studies have linked mental health conditions such as multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia, depression and hyperactivity to low or altered levels of essential fatty acids.
  • Functioning of organs and systems – Saturated fats protect the liver from alcohol and other toxins. When blood alcohol is high, the body craves a high-fat meal. Fats enhance the immune system. They are needed for the proper utilization of essential fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are better retained when the diet is rich in saturated fats. Short- and medium-chain saturated fatty acids have important antimicrobial properties. They protect us against harmful microorganisms in the digestive tract.

Develop Structural Growth

The main component of the brain

Approximately 60 per cent of the human brain matter consists of fats. As the human brain develops in the womb and in childhood, it needs a constant fatty acid supply to support the growth of nerve cells (neurons). Even the adult brain needs fat to maintain the membranes and myelin sheaths surrounding these cells – all 86 billion of them – and in comparison to the protein components of neurons, the fatty components need to be replaced more regularly

The main component of cell membranes

The membranes of all the cells in the human body are comprised of fats. Fats can act as a barrier, due to their water-repellent nature. Cellular barriers play a protective role by regulating the type of substances that enter and leave your cells. They also give structure to cell membranes, each and every cell of the human body.

The main component of most hormones and neurotransmitters

The human body needs fats to make bile acids, steroid hormones and vitamin D. Fats also give structure to lipoproteins, a family of proteins that help transport fatty compounds like cholesterol throughout your bloodstream. Fatty acids work as signalling molecules, helping your cells communicate with each other to ensure proper body function. Fatty acids regulate gene expression and control the types of protein your cells produce.

Build Human Energy Reserves

The main function of fats in the body is to provide energy. By supplying energy, fats save proteins from being utilized for energy, allowing them to perform their more important role of building and repairing tissues. Fats on oxidation provide almost twice as much energy as that given by carbohydrates – 9 Kcal per gm of fat compared to 4 Kcal per gm of protein and carbohydrate. Fats are the most energy-dense macronutrient yielding more energy than carbohydrates because fats contain less percentage of oxygen and a higher percentage of carbon and hydrogen as compared with carbohydrates.

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