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III. General Features of Fatty Acid Structure

Overview Carbon-Carbon Double Bonds Classification of Fatty Acids     Previous Page Next Page

Carbon-Carbon Double Bonds

Carbon-carbon double bonds (unsaturations) are found in naturally occurring fatty acids. There may be one double bond or many, up to six in important fatty acids. Fatty acids with one double bond are the most prevalent in the human body, comprising about half of the total. Fatty acids with two or more double bonds occur in lesser quantities, but are extremely important.

When double bonds occur they are almost always cis. If there is more than double bond, they occur at three-carbon intervals, e.g., -C=C-C-C=C-. This is called the divinylmethane pattern.

Divinylmethane Pattern

It is so named because it is as if a methane carbon (in the center) is attached to two vinyl groups (carrying the double bonds). The pattern may be repeated to yield fatty acids with many double bonds.


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