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Phospholipids function is involved in shaping the cell membrane and at the same time in helping the cells maintain their internal environment and structures. Phospholipids also serve a special purpose in allowing water-soluble molecules to enter and exit the cell. The structural components of phospholipids provide the needed strength and integrity needed to fulfill their function in cell development and vitality.

Phospholipids are very important for every living cell. The Brain cells, for instance, primarily need phospholipids to support optimum brain health. They are likewise essential for keeping the heart and liver in tip-top shape, maintaining positive mood, faster recovery from vigorous activities, as well as in ensuring efficient metabolism, cellular activities and different bodily processes.

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What is the structural composition of phospholipids?

The structural composition of the phospholipids equips it to carry out phospholipids function effectively. Phospholipids, along with a variety of protein molecules, make up the large part of the cell membrane. The cell membrane or plasma membrane pertains to the exterior covering of the cell which protects the subunit cell structures from the outside environment. While most lipids are composed of three chains of fatty acids attached to a glycerol molecule, phospholipids only have two chains of fatty acids and a compound composed of hydrogen, oxygen and phosphorous forming the phosphate group that is attached to glycerol molecule. This chemical composition facilitates the phospholipids function which is crucial for cell membrane function.

Phospholipids have two parts, namely, the head and the tail. The cell membrane is made up of two layers of phospholipids with the head pointing outwards and the tail inwards. This structural design enables the phospholipids to monitor what is going in and out of the cell. Here’s how they work.

  • Head

The head part is known as the phosphate group which is composed of hydrogen, oxygen and phosphorus. This is the hydrophilic end of the phospholipids bilayer which comes in contact with water molecules both inside and outside the cell.

  • Tail

The tail of the phospholipid is made up of fatty acid chains which repel water molecules and make up the hydrophobic end of the phospholipids bilayer. They prevent large molecules from getting into the membrane, thereby stabilizing the cell membrane structure.

Small molecules can get into the cell membrane easily but large molecules need the help of some proteins to be able to do so. The phospholipids bilayer is composed of various types of proteins which help in transporting larger molecules. Some proteins serve as tunnels to allow easy diffusion of certain substances, whereas others only let specific molecules to pass through.  Others, still, require energy to permit access.

What are the phospholipids functions?

Phospholipids serve various functions which are very important for the cell, as they aid in the following:

  • Providing structural support

Phospholipids give the cell membrane its shape and structure. This structural support is essential in protecting the subunit structures within the cell through its hydrophilic and hydrophobic ends. Cholesterols and some proteins also help in stabilizing the structure of the cell membrane.

  • Maintaining cellular atmosphere

Phospholipids function to ensure that everything that happens in the cell stays within. It is particularly important for the mitochondria, a cellular organ which provides cellular energy to divide, move and produce other cellular products.

  • Monitoring substances that enter and exit the cell

Since phospholipids separate the interior part of the cell from the surrounding environment, they are responsible in monitoring anything and everything that enter and exit the cell through their head and tail ends or hydrophilic and hydrophobic ends, respectively.

How does the body benefit from normal phospholipids function?

The function of phospholipids is important in various bodily processes especially for brain health. This is because brain cells have a much higher concentration of phospholipids than any other part of the body. Phospholipids are particularly beneficial for the following aspects:

  • Metabolism

Phospholipids, through the phosphotidyl choline component, aid in breaking down fats which is useful in various bodily processes especially metabolism.

  • Memory

Brain cells have a huge amount of phosphotidyl serine – another component of phospholipids – which helps in keeping the brain cell membrane healthy to support good memory. Moreover, phosphotidyl choline also promotes mental clarity.

  • Heart and liver health

High cholesterol level is conducive for health problems to arise, but phosphotidyl choline works in preventing cholesterol to accumulate and eventually harden in the arterial wall. The same phospholipid component also helps in promoting a healthy liver and gallbladder.

  • Moods

Phospholipids via its phosphotidyl serine component promote positive disposition and help ease depression and anxiety disorders.

  • Cellular communication system

Cells need to work together in order to transmit signals and perform cell actions in a coordinated manner.  In this regard, phospholipids work as communication channels between cells.

Phospholipids help in keeping the cell membrane healthy. However, phospholipids function can be disrupted and become severely affected by free radicals and harmful substances or microorganisms that come in contact with the cellular membrane. Some of these agents are capable of tricking the cell into absorbing them, thereby, eventually causing damage.

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