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Palmitic acid

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noun, plural: palmitic acids

A 16-carbon fatty acid, with the formula: CH3 (CH2)14 COOH


A fatty acid is a long chain of hydrocarbon. If there are no unsaturated linkages but only single bonds between carbon atoms them the fatty acid is a saturated type. This is in contrast to an unsaturated fatty acid that contains at least one double carbon-carbon bond.

The palmitic acid is a saturated fatty acid. It has sixteen carbon molecules in a chain connected by single bonds. It is the most common form of saturated fatty acid in most living things.

The palmitic acid occurs naturally in vegetable oils (e.g. palm oil and olive oil), fats, and waxes. One of its industrial uses is for making soaps through saponification. The esters and salts of palmitic acid are referred to as palmitate.

One of the main sources of palmitic acid is carbohydrates that are in excess in the body. It may serve as a precursor to longer fatty acids. The palmitoyl residue is one of the common acyl residues of membrane phospholipids. It is also found as a thioester attached to cystein residues on some membrane proteins. The proteins so modified are often transmembrane proteins and the modified residue is on the cytoplasmic surface of the membrane.

IUPAC name:

  • dodecanoic acid

Chemical formula: CH3 (CH2)14 COOH See also: