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Fatty Acids Metabolism - How The Body Makes Energy

Oct 9, 2009

Fatty acids metabolism is essential for life and energy production. Essential fatty acids, along with fats and carbohydrates, are required to produce enough metabolic energy for your body to move, think, talk, breathe, produce body heat, and everything else your body needs to do to survive. Biochemistry explains the rest.

The use of fatty acids for energy production is predominantly performed in your liver, which provides fat storage and retrieval for energy.

How Energy is Generated

Energy is generated by a few basic fuel molecules: glucose, fructose, fatty acids and amino acids. Fatty acids, which are found in fish oil and cod liver oil, are ingested by your body as triglycerides. Triglycerides produce twice the energy as carbohydrates or proteins. However, because triglycerides cannot be absorbed by intestines, your body breaks the triglycerides down into free fatty acids and monoglycerides. As the fatty acids are broken down, oxidation dismantles the molecules, and energy is released.

How Fatty Acids Are Used to Regulate Blood Sugar Levels

Fatty acids are also important for controlling and regulating metabolic reactions. When your body experiences low blood glucose or increased metabolic demand due to physical activity, it needs more energy. To meet that need for extra energy, the oxidation of fatty acids is increased.

How much energy your body needs is determined by the amount of physical activity you get and the rate of your metabolism. When your energy balance shifts with variations in physical activity and your food intake, fatty acids metabolism is adjusted to accommodate the changes.

Why a Balanced Diet is Essential

Fatty acid metabolism requires a balance between the energy need of cells and an organism as a whole, and is dependent on the metabolism of carbohydrates and proteins. Excess carbohydrates beyond your body’s energy needs will be converted into fat.

However, your body requires enough essential fats and fatty acids to absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, which provide many health benefits and can even aid in weight loss. Everyone needs essential fats and fatty acids to absorb vitamin D for weight management.

If you do not get enough fatty acids in your diet, your body won’t get the energy it needs to function properly for good health. In addition to feeling fatigued and unmotivated, there are many other symptoms of a fatty acid deficiency, including:

  • achy or popping joints because essential fatty acids lubricate your body’s joints
  • dry or brittle hair, fingernails and toenails
  • irregular bowel movements constipation, gas or bloating
  • high blood pressure
  • difficulties concentrating or remembering
  • an overall lack of mental energy

Good Sources of Essential Fatty Acids

Fish oil is a good source for omega-3 fatty acids. Vitamin supplements and acai berries are also good sources—and very beneficial to your overall health as well as weight management.

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