Patients who rely on supplemental enteral nutrition may lack pancreatic enzymes necessary to properly hydrolyze available fats and absorb these vital nutrients.
Pancreatic enzymes such as lipase are necessary to break down fats into fatty acids and monoglycerides, and make these calories available to be absorbed by the patient. When patients lack the ability to properly hydrolyze available fats, malabsorption may occur.
Inadequately hydrolyzed fats can result in:
- Fewer calories to the patient
- Weight loss
- Shortage of key fats (omega-3 fats)
- Lower levels of some vitamins
Malabsorption of dietary fats is characterized by reduced digestion of essential fats and decreased caloric absorption, as well as corresponding symptoms that include stomach pain, gas, and oily or foul smelling stools.
Why Effectively Hydrolyzing Long-Chain Triglycerides Matters
Fats varying in fatty acid chain lengths are hydrolyzed and absorbed differently. When hydrolyzed, long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) yield long-chain fatty acids, such as long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids that are structural components of membranes and of biological mediators involved in the regulation of many physiological functions, including normal growth and development.