The role of vitamins and minerals in fat metabolism
Cofactors in fat metabolism include enzymes, vitamins and minerals.
Every chemical reaction in metabolism require enzymes. Enzymes are proteins made according to our DNA, via blueprints of RNA. Enzymes are made in response to our body’s needs. Chemical reactions cannot occur without them. Enzymes are catalysts- they facilitate or dissolve associations between molecules. Specific enzymes facilitate specific interactions between specific molecules in a specific way, resulting in reliable molecular results that allow life to carry on.
Enzymes are allied with an essential mineral, which we get from foods e.g. over 80 enzymes ally themselves with zinc; for energy production, enzymes need magnesium. Several require copper; others need iron. Of the 20 minerals needed for our bodies to function, at least 12 of these help enzymes to function.
Vitamins are also needed for enzyme function, which must also come from foods. Vitamins are more loosely associated with enzymes. 13 vitamins cofactors with enzymes, which are essential to human health.
The following vitamins and minerals are involved in lipid metabolism:
- Vitamin E and carotene are antioxidants- protect EFA from destruction by oxygen and free radicals. Vitamin C recharges spent vitamin E.
- Fatty acid breakdown: Vitamins B2 , B3, panthotenic acid, sulphur , potassium are required in beta-oxidation of saturated fatty acids. Alpha – oxidation require vitamin B12, panthotenic acid, biocin, sulphur and magnesium. To burn acetates into carbon dioxide, water and energy requires vitamin B2 , B3 and iron (as well as inserting cis- double bonds into saturated fatty acid molecules).
- Synthesis : to synthesize fatty acids, vitamins B2 , B3 and biotin are necessary.
- Prostaglandins: to change EFA into prostaglandins, several steps are involved, with each enzyme having it’s own cofactor requirement. The first step requires zinc – it is blocked by trans-fatty acids, excess fats, saturated fatty acids and alcohol. The second step requires vitamin B6. The third step requires zinc, vitamin B3 and vitamin C. If a co-factor is missing, a step in the prostaglandin production is blocked; if a co-factor is in short supply, prostaglandin production is slowed down.
- Cholesterol transport: for cholesterol to be transported in our blood, it must be hooked (esterified) to a fatty acid (especially an EFA). Esterification of cholesterol to a fatty acid to be transported in the blood, requires vitamin B6. To change cholesterol into bile acids, vitamin C is required.
Therefore, without these essential vitamins and minerals, metabolism of fats, oils and cholesterol can’t take place and we lose our vigor and health.