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Biology for Kids

Lipids and Fats

What are lipids?

Lipids are one of the four major groups of organic molecules; the other three being proteins, nucleic acids (DNA), and carbohydrates (sugars). Lipids are made up of the same elements as carbohydrates: carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. However, lipids tend to contain many more hydrogen atoms than oxygen atoms.

Lipids include fats, steroids, phospholipids, and waxes. One main characteristic of lipids is that they do not dissolve in water.

What do they do?

Lipids play an important role in living organisms. Some of their main functions include energy storage, hormones, and cell membranes.

Types of Lipids

Fats

Waxes

Waxes are similar to fats in their chemical make up, however they only have one long fatty acid chain. Waxes are soft and plastic at room temperatures. They are produced by animals and plants and are typically used for protection. Plants use waxes to help prevent water loss. Humans have wax in our ears to help protect our eardrums.

Steroids

Steroids are another major group of lipids. Steroids include cholesterol, chlorophyll, and hormones. Our bodies use cholesterol to make the hormones testosterone (male hormones) and estrogen (female hormones). Chlorophyll is used by plants to absorb light for photosynthesis.

Are steroids bad for you?

Not all steroids are bad. Our bodies need steroids like cholesterol and cortisol to survive, so some steroids are good for us. There are also many steroids that doctors use to help sick people.

However, the type of steroids you hear about in sports, anabolic steroids, can be very bad for you. They can cause all sorts of damage to your body including strokes, kidney failure, blood clots, and liver damage.

Phospholipids

Phospholipids make up the fourth major group of lipids. They are very similar to fats in their chemical make up. Phospholipids are one of the main structural components of all cell membranes.

Interesting Facts about Lipids Activities

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More Biology Subjects

Cell
The Cell
Cell Cycle and Division
Nucleus
Ribosomes
Mitochondria
Chloroplasts
Proteins
Enzymes

The Human Body
Human Body
Brain
Nervous System
Digestive System
Sight and the Eye
Hearing and the Ear
Smelling and Tasting
Skin
Muscles
Breathing
Blood and Heart
Bones
List of Human Bones
Immune System
Organs

Nutrition
Nutrition
Vitamins and Minerals
Carbohydrates
Lipids
Enzymes

Genetics
Genetics
Chromosomes
DNA
Mendel and Heredity
Hereditary Patterns
Proteins and Amino Acids

Plants
Photosynthesis
Plant Structure
Plant Defenses
Flowering Plants
Non-Flowering Plants
Trees
Living Organisms
Scientific Classification
Animals
Bacteria
Protists
Fungi
Viruses

Disease
Infectious Disease
Medicine and Pharmaceutical Drugs
Epidemics and Pandemics
Historical Epidemics and Pandemics
Immune System
Cancer
Concussions
Diabetes
Influenza


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