Fatty acid oxidation is the process of fatty acids breaking down, which releases energy. This article will expand upon what fatty acids are and why fatty acid oxidation is essential for the human body.
Fatty Acids are the residue created after fats are broken down. These fats can be stored and utilized at a later time for energy. Fatty Acids are essential for the human body because they help move oxygen through the bloodstream, aid cell membrane development, function and strength, and they are necessary for your tissues and organs to work properly. Fatty acids also help reduce total cholesterol because they help arteries eliminate cholesterol build up and can help lower triglycerides. In addition to these essential roles, fatty acids also help prevent wrinkles and help keep skin healthy and elastic.
There are three types of fatty acids--omega-3s, omega-6s and omega-9s. Omega-3 and Omega-6 are considered essential fatty acids because they help the body regulate the lipid levels in the blood stream. This affects blood clotting and blood pressure. Essential fatty acids also help your immune system function properly.
Fatty Acid Oxidation and Energy Levels
The main source of energy for the body is glucose. When the body runs out of glucose, it breaks down stored fatty acids to produce energy. When carbohydrates are broken down, they also release energy, except fatty acids release a larger amount of energy per carbon atom.
It is essential for the body to break down stored fats to produce energy because at times, your body will require energy yet there is no food source to break down.
Fatty Acid Oxidation Disorders
Some individuals cannot breakdown stored fats to produce energy because of a missing or malfunctioning enzyme. This is often a genetic condition. This means that when the body requires energy, yet there is no food source, the body is unable to go to stored fat sources to obtain energy. This also means that fatty acids will build up in the blood stream because they are never broken down; your body just continues to store these fats. This can cause serious health problems.
One common fatty acid oxidation disorder is carnitine deficiency. Carnitine is an amino acid that transports fatty acids to the mitochondria, where they are broken down to release energy. Carnitine also helps the body's metabolism function properly because it prevents low blood sugar levels and helps remove metabolic waste from cells to help prevent toxic buildup.
Individuals can be screened for fatty acid oxidation disorders. There are numerous medications that can treat these disorders.
Increasing Fatty Acids
Fatty acids are found in some fish and certain plants. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids cannot be produce naturally by the body, so people need to consume foods or take supplements to ensure they get proper amounts of fatty acids. Fatty acids can be found in salmon, tuna, mackerel, flax seed, safflower oils and soybeans. One common supplement for fatty acids is fish oil capsules.