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Phospholipids are Fat Molecules Attracted To and From Water

Updated on July 19, 2013

Phospholipids Are Fats (Lipids)

Phospholipids are fat molecules in the human body that have both hydrophilic heads and hydrophobic tails. The heads of phosopholipids are attracted to water, and the tails are repelled by water. Phospholipids exist in all cell membranes. The heads of phospholipids are lined up together attracted to water while the hydrophobic tails are lined up against each other, and are repelled by water. Phospholipids belong to a class of lipids, which are fats, and are a major component of all cell membranes. Phospholipids are taught in anatiomy classes. Cells can't exist without phospholipids, because they make up the membranes of the cells, and they form a barrier to the outside world. Phospholipids have bi-layers with embedded proteins throughout the structure of the bi-layers. Cells will only allow certain materials to pass in and out of their structures. Phospholipids form double layers, also, called bi-layers with the heads attracted to water, and the tails repelled by water at the same time. All lipids are fats.


A Phospholipid with Tails
A Phospholipid with Tails | Source

Phospholipids Form Bi-Layers

Phospholipids form bi-layers with the heads toward water and the tails away from the water. The heads of the phospholipids are polar and the tails are non-polar. The tails are always in the center of the bi-layer away from water. What are phospholipids? phospholipids are phosphorous containing fats, they are molecules of glycerol, two chains of fatty acid, and a phosphate group that is polar (hydrophilic) - interacts with water. The fatty acid tails are non-polar (hydrophobic) - do not interact with water.The first phospholipid was identified by French Chemist and Pharmacist Theodore Nicolas Gobley in 1847, which was lecithin.


Phospholipids and Cells

Phospholipids are molecules that surround cells protecting them, and transporting nutrients through cell walls. Phospholipids have two fatty acids and a phosphate group, which makes phospholipids not true fats. When phospholipids are placed in water, the heads turn toward the water, and the tails are turned inward towards each other away from the water, and the phospholipids arrange themselves to form bi-layers. Phospholipids have a head, neck, and tails. A cell is the smallest unit of life, and cells have three ways of transporting materials in and out of themselves.The three ways cells have of transporting materials in and out of cells are: Active transport, Passive transport, and Diffusion. Phospholipids are not ridged structures, but are fluid structures. The cytosol is the fluid in the cell that contains mostly water along with other disolved substances in the cell.


The Structure of Phospholipids
The Structure of Phospholipids | Source


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    • gail641 profile image

      Gail Louise Stevenson 5 years ago from Mason City

      Thanks for commenting--I took an easy Biology class in High School, which wasn't too bad. The school had two Biology classes, one was easier than the other. I thought it was interesting how the heads of the phospholipids were attracted to water and the tails were repelled by it. Thanks for voting, gail641

    • dmop profile image

      dmop 5 years ago from Cambridge City, IN

      This reminds me of Biology class, which I did well in, but didn't really enjoy. This helped even further to make heads or tails of the subject. Voted up and interesting.

    • gail641 profile image

      Gail Louise Stevenson 5 years ago from Mason City

      I added two videos that I found on youtube--I thought that they were really good. I am hoping that who ever reads this hub, might enjoy them, gail641.

    • gail641 profile image

      Gail Louise Stevenson 5 years ago from Mason City

      The heads are hydrophilic, because their heads are attracted to water, and the tails are hydrophobic, because they hide from the water. The tails are repellled by water

    • Caleb DRC profile image

      Caleb DRC 5 years ago

      This is very fascinating, Gail. What determines if it is hydrophilic or hydrophobic?