Body composition may be analyzed in various ways. This can be done in terms of the chemical elements present, or by molecular type e.g., water, protein, fats (or lipids), hydroxylapatite (in bones), carbohydrates (such as glycogen and glucose) and DNA. Many of the elements found throughout nature are also found within the body.
Role of Different Compounds In Our Body
In general, these compounds are either inorganic or organic.
- Inorganic Compounds: An inorganic compound is a substance that does not contain both carbon and hydrogen. A great many inorganic compounds do contain hydrogen atoms, such as water (H2O) and the hydrochloric acid (HCl) produced by your stomach. In contrast, only a handful of inorganic compounds contain carbon atoms. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is one of the few examples.
- Organic Compounds: An organic compound, then, is a substance that contains both carbon and hydrogen. Organic compounds are synthesized via covalent bonds within living organisms, including the human body. Recall that carbon and hydrogen are the second and third most abundant elements in your body. You will soon discover how these two elements combine in the foods you eat, in the compounds that make up your body structure, and in the chemicals that fuel your functioning.
Inorganic Compounds Needed By Our Body
Inorganic compounds are important in the body and responsible for many simple functions. The major inorganic compounds are:
- Water (H2O)
- Bimolecular Oxygen (O2)
- Carbon-dioxide (CO2)
- Acids, Bases, and Salts
The body is composed of 60–75% water. Oxygen is required by all cells for cellular metabolism and circulating blood must be well oxygenated for maintenance of life. Carbon dioxide is a waste product of cells and must be eliminated or a serious change in pH can occur, known as acidosis. A balance in acids, bases, and salts must be maintained to assure homeostasis of blood pH and electrolyte balance.
Drinking water does more than just quench your thirst — it’s essential to keeping your body functioning properly and feeling healthy. Nearly all of your body’s major systems depend on water to function and survive. You’d be surprised about what staying hydrated can do for your body.
Here are just a few important ways water works in your body:
- Regulates body temperature
- Moistens tissues in the eyes, nose and mouth
- Protects body organs and tissues
- Carries nutrients and oxygen to cells
- Lubricates joints
- Lessens burden the on kidneys and liver by flushing out waste products
- Helps dissolve minerals and nutrients to make them accessible to your body
Every day, you lose water through your breath, perspiration, urine and bowel movements, which is why it’s important to continue to take in water throughout the day. For your body to function at its best, you must replenish its water supply with beverages and food that contain water.
Bimolecular oxygen (O2) is a diatomic molecule that is composed of two oxygen atoms held together by a covalent bond. Bimolecular oxygen is essential for life, as it is used for respiration by many organisms. It’s also essential for fossil fuel combustion.
Bimolecular oxygen is very chemically reactive, and tends to form oxides by reaction with other elements and compounds quite easily. We rely on photosynthesis of plants to replenish the molecular oxygen in the atmosphere – if photosynthesis stopped, eventually the atmospheric oxygen content would drop to near zero. Since animals (including humans) breathe molecular oxygen and require it for metabolism, it is important medically.
In the human body, carbon dioxide is formed intracellularly as a byproduct of metabolism. CO2 is transported in the bloodstream to the lungs where it is ultimately removed from the body through exhalation. CO2 plays various roles in the human body including regulation of blood pH, respiratory drive, and affinity of hemoglobin for oxygen (O2). Fluctuations in CO2 levels are highly regulated and can cause disturbances in the human body if normal levels are not maintained.
CO2 is a regulator of blood pH. In the blood, CO2 is carried in several different forms. Approximately 80% to 90% is dissolved in water, 5% to 10% is dissolved in the plasma, and 5% to 10% is bound to hemoglobin.
Acids, Bases, and Salts
You probably know that batteries contain dangerous chemicals, including strong acids. Strong acids can hurt you if they come into contact with your skin or eyes. Therefore, it may surprise you to learn that your life depends on acids. There are many acids inside your body, and some of them are as strong as battery acid. Acids are needed for digestion and some forms of energy production. Genes are made of nucleic acids, proteins of amino acids, and lipids of fatty acids.
Many acids and bases in living things provide the pH that enzymes need. Enzymes are biological catalysts that must work effectively for biochemical reactions to occur. Most enzymes can do their job only at a certain level of acidity. Cells secrete acids and bases to maintain the proper pH for enzymes to do their work.
Every time you digest food, acids and bases are at work in your digestive system. Consider the enzyme pepsin, which helps break down proteins in the stomach. Pepsin needs an acidic environment to do its job. The stomach secretes a strong acid called hydrochloric acid that allows pepsin to work. When stomach contents enter the small intestine, the acid must be neutralized, because enzymes in the small intestine need a basic environment in order to work. An organ called the pancreas secretes a base named bicarbonate into the small intestine, and this base neutralizes the acid.
Organic Compounds Needed by Our Body
Organic compounds are involved in nearly all biochemical activities related to normal cellular metabolism and function. The mechanisms by which xenobiotics cause cellular and biochemical toxicity are predominantly related to changes to organic compounds. The main feature that differentiates organic compounds from inorganic compounds is that organic compounds always contain carbon. Most organic compounds are also relatively large molecules. There are five major categories of organic compounds involved in normal physiology of the body:
- Nucleic Acids
- High-Energy Compounds
Carbohydrates are your body’s main source of energy: They help fuel your brain, kidneys, heart muscles, and central nervous system. For instance, fiber is a carbohydrate that aids in digestion, helps you feel full, and keeps blood cholesterol levels in check. Your body can store extra carbohydrates in your muscles and liver for use when you’re not getting enough carbohydrates in your diet. A carbohydrate-deficient diet may cause headaches, fatigue, weakness, difficulty concentrating, nausea, constipation, bad breath and vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
There are three main sources of carbohydrates:
- Sugars: They are also called simple carbohydrates because they are in the most basic form. They can be added to foods, such as the sugar in candy, desserts, processed foods, and regular soda. They also include the kinds of sugar that are found naturally in fruits, vegetables, and milk.
- Starches: They are complex carbohydrates, which are made of lots of simple sugars strung together. Your body needs to break starches down into sugars to use them for energy. Starches include bread, cereal, and pasta. They also include certain vegetables, like potatoes, peas, and corn.
- Fiber. It is also a complex carbohydrate. Your body cannot break down most fibers, so eating foods with fiber can help you feel full and make you less likely to overeat. Diets high in fiber have other health benefits. They may help prevent stomach or intestinal problems, such as constipation. They may also help lower cholesterol and blood sugar. Fiber is found in many foods that come from plants, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains.
Common foods with carbohydrates include:
- Grains, such as bread, noodles, pasta, crackers, cereals, and rice
- Fruits, such as apples, bananas, berries, mangoes, melons, and oranges
- Dairy products, such as milk and yogurt
- Legumes, including dried beans, lentils, and peas
- Snack foods and sweets, such as cakes, cookies, candy, and other desserts
- Juices, regular sodas, fruit drinks, sports drinks, and energy drinks that contain sugar
- Starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, corn, and peas
Some foods don’t have a lot of carbohydrates, such as meat, fish, poultry, some types of cheese, nuts, and oils.
A polysaccharide is a carbohydrate formed by long chains of repeating units linked together by glycosidic bonds. The term polysaccharide etymologically means multi saccharides. A saccharide refers to the unit structure of carbohydrates. Thus, a polysaccharide is a carbohydrate composed of many saccharides, particularly, more than ten (mono)saccharide units.
Carbohydrates are organic compounds composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, usually in the ratio of 1:2:1. They are one of the major classes of biomolecules. They are an important source of energy. They also serve as structural components. As a nutrient, they can be classified into two major groups: simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates.
Simple carbohydrates, sometimes referred to as, simply, sugars, are those that are readily digested and serve as a rapid source of energy. Complex carbohydrates (such as cellulose, starch, chitin, and glycogen) are those that need more time to be digested and metabolized. They often are high in fiber and unlike simple carbohydrates, they are less likely to cause spikes in blood sugar levels.
Polysaccharides are characterized by the following chemical properties:
- Not sweet in taste
- Many of which are insoluble in water
- Do not form crystals when desiccated
- Compact and not osmotically active inside the cells
- Can be extracted to form a white powder
- General chemical formula of Cx(H2O)y
Polysaccharides consist of hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen, just as the other forms of carbohydrates. The ratio of hydrogen atoms to oxygen atoms is often 2:1, which is why they are also described as hydrates of carbon. The general chemical formula of polysaccharides is (C6H10O5)n. Because of the presence of carbon and C-C and C-H covalent bonds, they are considered organic compounds similar to other carbohydrates.
Polysaccharides differ from oligosaccharides and disaccharides based on how many monosaccharide units are present. Disaccharides are made up of only two monosaccharides. Oligosaccharides have more than two monosaccharides. The term oligosaccharide is commonly used to describe relatively shorter chains than polysaccharides. Polysaccharides are a type of biological macromolecule composed of multiple monosaccharide units.
There are diverse forms of polysaccharides. Their structure ranges from simple linear to more complex, highly branched forms. Many of them are heterogenous. Depending on their composition, they may be amorphous or water-insoluble.
Importance of Polysaccharides
Polysaccharides, just as the other carbohydrates, are a major source of energy, and therefore are one of the main dietary components. Animals consume them to obtain monosaccharides that they can use to synthesize ATP. ATPs are chemical energy biologically synthesized through aerobic and anaerobic respiration. Glucose is the most common form of monosaccharide that the cell uses to synthesize ATP via substrate-level phosphorylation (glycolysis) and/or oxidative phosphorylation (involving redox reactions and chemiosmosis).
And one of the sources of glucose is a carbohydrate-containing diet. Too much carbohydrate in the diet though could lead to health problems. Consistently high blood sugar levels could eventually lead to diabetes mellitus. The gut would also need to exert greater effort to digest them. Too much fructose, for instance, could lead to malabsorption in the small intestine. When this happens, unabsorbed fructose transported to the large intestine could be used in fermentation by the colonic flora. This could lead to gastrointestinal pain, diarrhea, flatulence, or bloating.
Plants store excess glucose in the form of starch. Thus, there are plants that are harvested to use the starch for food preparation and industrial purposes. Animals store carbohydrates in the form of glycogen so that when the body demands more glucose, glucose can be taken from this reserve through the process of glycogenolysis. Polysaccharides are also essential in living organisms as they serve as structural components of biological structures, such as cellulose and chitin. Plant cellulose is harvested for its multifarious uses in the industry.
In biology and biochemistry, a monosaccharide is a simple sugar that constitutes the building blocks of a more complex form of sugars such as oligosaccharides and polysaccharides. Examples are fructose, glucose, and ribose. The term monosaccharide etymologically means “single saccharide”. A saccharide refers to the unit structure of carbohydrates. Thus, a monosaccharide is a carbohydrate composed of only one saccharide unit. The term sugar can refer to both monosaccharides and disaccharides. Monosaccharides are also called simple sugars since they are the most fundamental type of sugar. The term table sugar or granulated sugar actually refers to sucrose, which is a disaccharide made of two monosaccharides — glucose and fructose.
The most fundamental type is the simple sugars called monosaccharides. This means that they cannot be broken down any further into simpler sugars by hydrolysis. Nevertheless, monosaccharides can combine with each other to form more complex types.
Glycosidic bonds (also called glycosidic linkages) are the covalent bonds that join monosaccharides. The combination of two simple sugars is called a disaccharide whereas carbohydrates consisting of three to ten simple sugars are called oligosaccharides, and those with a larger number of monosaccharide units are called polysaccharides.
The chemical process of joining monosaccharide units is referred to as dehydration synthesis since it results in the release of water as a byproduct. The process, though, is reversible. Complex carbohydrates may be broken down into simple sugars, such as in glycogenolysis where stored glycogen is broken down into glucose units that could be used in energy metabolism.
A monosaccharide has a general chemical formula of CnH2nOn and its chemical structure is H(CHOH)nC=O(CHOH)mH. The ratio of hydrogen atoms to oxygen atoms is often 2:1. An exception to this is deoxyribose, a type of monosaccharide found in DNA. Because of this chemical formula rule, monosaccharides and other carbohydrates are referred to as hydrates of carbon.
Monosaccharides are often
- crystalline solids
- dissolves in water
- occur as syrups or liquid sugar
Just like the other carbohydrates, monosaccharides are organic compounds. They contain carbon covalently bound to other atoms, especially Carbon-Carbon (C-C) and Carbon-Hydrogen (C-H).
Importance of Monosaccharides
Monosaccharides are involved in many important metabolic pathways. Some of these metabolic pathways are:
- Glycolysis: the conversion of a monosaccharide into pyruvate, with the concomitant production of high-energy biomolecules
- Pentose phosphate pathway: an alternative metabolic route in breaking down glucose
- Gluconeogenesis: the conversion of non-carbohydrate precursors into a monosaccharide
- Glycogenolysis: the breaking down of stored glycogen into monosaccharide units
- Glycogenesis: the conversion of glucose into glycogen
- Fructose metabolism: where fructose, instead of glucose, enters the glycolytic pathway
- Galactose metabolism: where galactose enters the glycolytic pathway by first being phosphorylated and then converted into glucose-6-phosphate
A disaccharide is a carbohydrate made up of two monosaccharides by a glycosidic bond. Thus, a disaccharide would be able to yield two monosaccharide units on complete hydrolysis. An example of a disaccharide is sucrose, which is made up of glucose and fructose.
Similar to other carbohydrates, disaccharides are composed of hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen, and the ratio of hydrogen atoms to oxygen atoms is often 2:1, which explains why they are referred to as hydrates of carbon. The general chemical formula of disaccharides is C12H22O11. Because of the presence of carbon and C-C and C-H covalent bonds, disaccharides are also organic compounds, just like the other carbohydrates.
A disaccharide is a carbohydrate or a sugar composed of two monosaccharides joined together by a glycosidic bond (or glycosidic linkage). Monosaccharides are the most fundamental type of carbohydrate. Glycosidic bonds are covalent bonds that may form between the hydroxyl groups of two monosaccharides. Thus, even if they have the same chemical formula, there are different kinds of disaccharides that differ in bond formations, as well as monosaccharide constituents, and therefore, different properties.
Disaccharides differ from other forms of carbohydrates, oligosaccharides, and polysaccharides, in the number of monosaccharide units that make them up. Disaccharides are made up of only two whereas oligosaccharides are made up of three to ten monosaccharides. Polysaccharides, as the name implies, contain several monosaccharide units.
Importance of Disaccharides
Dietary disaccharides, just as the other carbohydrates, are a source of energy. Disaccharides are consumed and digested so as to obtain monosaccharides that are important metabolites for ATP synthesis. ATPs are chemical energy biologically synthesized through aerobic and anaerobic respiration. Glucose is the most common form of monosaccharide that the cell uses to synthesize ATP via substrate-level phosphorylation (glycolysis) and/or oxidative phosphorylation (involving redox reactions and chemiosmosis).
And one of the sources of glucose is a disaccharide-containing diet. Sucrose, the common table sugar, is used commonly as a sweetener. It is used in beverages and food preparation, such as cake and cookies. When consumed, the enzyme invertase in the small intestine cleaves sucrose into glucose and fructose. Too much fructose, though, could lead to malabsorption in the small intestine. When this happens, unabsorbed fructose transported to the large intestine could be used in fermentation by the colonic flora. This could lead to gastrointestinal pain, diarrhea, flatulence, or bloating. Too much glucose could also be a health hazard.
Excessive consumption of sugar could lead to diabetes, obesity, tooth decay, and cardiovascular diseases. Lactose, a disaccharide found in breast milk, is used as a nutrient source for infants. Microorganisms, such as Lactobacilli, can convert lactose to lactic acid, which is used in the food industry, e.g. in the production of dairy products like yogurt and cheese. Maltose may be used as a sweetener although it is much less sweet than sucrose.
Vascular plants form disaccharides, especially sucrose, as a nutrient to be transported to various parts of the plant via the phloem tissues. Sugarcane, most especially, is harvested to make commercialized sugar.
Lipid, any of a diverse group of organic compounds including fats, oils, hormones, and certain components of membranes that are grouped together because they do not interact appreciably with water. One type of lipid, the triglycerides, is sequestered as fat in adipose cells, which serve as the energy-storage depot for organisms and also provide thermal insulation.
Some lipids such as steroid hormones serve as chemical messengers between cells, tissues, and organs, and others communicate signals between biochemical systems within a single cell. The membranes of cells and organelles (structures within cells) are microscopically thin structures formed from two layers of phospholipid molecules. Membranes function to separate individual cells from their environments and to compartmentalize the cell interior into structures that carry out special functions. So important is this compartmentalizing function that membranes, and the lipids that form them, must have been essential to the origin of life itself.
Lipids are a family of organic compounds, composed of fats and oils. These molecules yield high energy and are responsible for different functions within the human body. Listed below are some important characteristics of Lipids.
- Lipids are oily or greasy nonpolar molecules, stored in the adipose tissue of the body.
- Lipids are a heterogeneous group of compounds, mainly composed of hydrocarbon chains.
- Lipids are energy-rich organic molecules, which provide energy for different life processes.
- Lipids are a class of compounds characterized by their solubility in nonpolar solvents and insolubility in water.
- Lipids are significant in biological systems as they form a mechanical barrier dividing a cell from the external environment known as the cell membrane.
Some of the common sources of lipids are:
- Avocados: Avocados have a high ratio of unsaturated fat to saturated fat. They also have 50 percent of your daily recommended amount of fiber, which is linked to lower cholesterol. Avocados are very nutritious, loaded with vitamin K, folate, vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B5 and vitamin B6. They have a lot of fat, but it’s the healthy kind that will help you feel full.
- Fatty Fish: Most fish have lots of lipids and protein, which your body needs. Fatty fish are the top source of omega-3 fats, a type of polyunsaturated fat that’s linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Seeds and Nuts: Many seeds and nuts are good sources of lipids and protein. Almonds, pecans, pistachios, macadamia nuts, walnuts, peanuts, flax seeds, chia seeds and pumpkin seeds are all high in unsaturated fats with ample amounts of protein.
- Plant-Based Oils: Oils are a valuable source of lipids and plant-based oils have more good-for-you unsaturated fats, while animal-based fats are mostly made up of saturated fat. Some of these are olive oil, canola oil, avocado oil, corn oil, peanut oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil. Eggs are another food with proteins and lipids.
- Dairy Products: Dairy products such as milk, curd, butter, cheese.
- Meat: Meat has lipids in the form of both saturated and unsaturated fats, depending on the type and cut.
Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood. They are the most common type of fat in the body. Triglycerides are necessary for health but in excess amounts, they may be harmful and may increase the risk of heart disease. For this reason, scientists think that triglyceride levels may be an important measure of metabolic health.
When you eat more calories than you need, the body stores those calories in the form of triglycerides, which can be used later by the body for energy.
Most of the fats we eat, such as natural oils — both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated — animal fats and trans fats, are triglycerides. While both healthy and unhealthy fats contribute to triglyceride levels, trans fats like margarine and saturated fats like fatty red meats, poultry skin, lard and some full-fat dairy products can elevate triglyceride levels more than leaner cuts of meat and unsaturated fats like olive oil, avocados, nuts and low-fat dairy products. Refined, simple carbohydrates and alcohol can also increase triglyceride levels.
Triglycerides can go up quickly:
- When you eat too much food
- When you eat high-fat foods
- When you eat foods high in simple carbohydrates
Foods That Cause High Triglycerides
The following foods are the root causes of high Triglycerides in a body:
Sugar: Sugary food and drinks, saturated fats, refined grains, alcohol, and high-calorie foods can all lead to high levels of triglycerides. Simple sugars, like fructose, are a common source of elevated triglycerides. Eating too much sugar may lead to weight gain and insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is when your body can’t use the hormone insulin effectively to turn sugar into energy. It can cause blood sugars to increase and is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
Sugary foods and drinks that can lead to high levels of triglycerides include
- Fresh and canned fruit
- Ice cream and sweetened yogurt
- Sweetened drinks like juices
- Jams and jellies
- Milkshakes and smoothies
- Foods and drinks with corn syrup, honey, sucrose, glucose, fructose, and maltose listed as the first ingredient
Saturated and Trans Fats: Saturated fats can raise triglyceride levels. They can be found in fried foods, red meat, chicken skin, egg yolks, high-fat dairy, butter, lard, shortening, margarine, and fast food. Alternatives include:
- Lean proteins such as skinless white chicken meat and fish
- Low-fat dairy
- Egg whites
- Olive oil, canola oil, and peanut oil
Refined Grains and Starchy Foods: Refined or processed grains are typically made from white flour, which can increase triglycerides. They also often have added sugars. If possible, try to limit:
- Enriched or bleached white bread, wheat bread, or pasta
- Sugary cereals
- Instant rice
- Pastries, pies, cookies, and cakes
- Starchy foods can also raise triglycerides
Alcohol: Alcohol consumption can raise triglyceride levels.4 Decreasing your alcohol intake can help lower these levels. If you or a loved one need additional help decreasing alcohol consumption, reach out to your doctor.
High-Calorie Foods: Be mindful of your intake of high-calorie foods if you are trying to lower your triglyceride levels. As some high-calorie foods are nutrient-rich, like nuts and avocados, consider checking in with your doctor for additional guidance.
Foods That Lower Triglycerides
Studies suggest that essential fatty acids, such as omega-3 fatty acids, can help lower triglyceride levels.
This type of fat is found in salmon, sardines, mackerel, tuna, walnuts, flax seeds, and canola oil.
Fish oil or omega-3 supplements may be a helpful addition to your diet. However, before taking supplements, you should speak with your healthcare provider. Also make sure to eat plenty of vegetables, which help lower triglycerides in part because they don’t contain a lot of calories, sugars, or bad fats. Certain vegetables like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and spinach contain an antioxidant called alpha-lipoic acid that may lower triglycerides.
Also, choose foods made with soy, which is a healthy source of protein. Some research suggests that regular soy protein consumption can lower triglycerides.
Glycerol is one of the sugar alcohols. Sugar alcohols belong to a class of polyols characterized by being white, water-soluble, organic compounds with a general chemical formula of (CHOH)nH2. Sugar alcohols may be produced by the hydrogenation of sugars.
Glycerol is a colorless, odorless, viscous, sweet-tasting polyol with a chemical formula of C3H8O3. It is a trihydric alcohol since it is composed of three carbon atoms; each of the two end carbon atoms is bound to two hydrogen atoms and a hydroxyl group; the central carbon atom is bound to a hydrogen atom and a hydroxyl group. This structure makes glycerol highly hygroscopic (readily attracts moisture) and soluble in water and in alcohol. Its melting point is 18°C. Its boiling point is 290°C. It is less sweet than sucrose, i.e. 75% sweetness relative to sucrose.
Importance of Glycerol
Glycerol is an essential sugar alcohol for many living things. For one, it is a component of lipids, such as triglycerides and phospholipids. Along with the fatty acids, glycerol forms glycerides that could serve as an energy fuel. Triglycerides, for instance, is a major component of animal fats and vegetable oils.
Glycerol also serves as one of the substrates for the synthesis of glycerol-3-phosphate that could enter triglyceride biosynthesis, phospholipid biosynthesis, glycolysis, and gluconeogenesis. Phospholipids are one of the main structural components of biological membranes.
They may also act as second messengers in signal transduction. There are various types of phospholipids, phosphatidic acid, phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylserine, phosphatidylethanolamine, phosphatidylinositol, etc., each involved in various metabolic activities.
Glycerol may be converted into glucose, the major metabolite of glycolysis, which is a metabolic pathway through which energy (ATP) is synthesized. This energy drives the various metabolic activities of a cell. When there is not enough glucose, glycerol is a major glucose precursor in gluconeogenesis. Unlike fatty acids, glycerol is more readily absorbed particularly by the brain cells. The brain cells can use glycerol-turned-glucose for glycolysis when glucose is insufficient.
Glycerol may be synthesized naturally or may be derived by consuming glycerol-containing fatty foods. It is also produced chemically by saponification or by the action of superheated steam for use as food sweetener, humectant, thickener, and emulsifier.
Fatty acid, an important component of lipids (fat-soluble components of living cells) in plants, animals, and microorganisms. Generally, a fatty acid consists of a straight chain of an even number of carbon atoms, with hydrogen atoms along the length of the chain and at one end of the chain and a carboxyl group (―COOH) at the other end. It is that carboxyl group that makes it an acid (carboxylic acid). If the carbon-to-carbon bonds are all single, the acid is saturated; if any of the bonds is double or triple, the acid is unsaturated and is more reactive. A few fatty acids have branched chains; others contain ring structures (e.g., prostaglandins). Fatty acids are not found in a free state in nature; commonly they exist in combination with glycerol (an alcohol) in the form of triglyceride.
Among the most widely distributed fatty acids are the 16- and 18-carbon fatty acids, otherwise known as palmitic acid and stearic acid, respectively. Both palmitic and stearic acids occur in the lipids of the majority of organisms. In animals palmitic acid makes up as much as 30 percent of body fat. It accounts for anywhere from 5 to 50 percent of lipids in vegetable fats, being especially abundant in palm oil. Stearic acid is abundant in some vegetable oils (e.g., cocoa butter and shea butter) and makes up a relatively high proportion of the lipids found in ruminant tallow.
Importance of Fatty Acids
Proper nutrition and weight loss are both hot topics in society today. It is important to be aware that weight loss does not necessarily translate into proper nutrition. Many individuals believe that in order to lose weight, one must eliminate fat from the diet.
Unfortunately, this can be very harmful to the body as certain types of fats are critical to proper function of the body. These beneficial fats are known as Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs). They are essential because your body cannot produce them on its own so they must come from your diet.
The two primary EFAs are known as
- linoleic acid (omega-6)
- alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3)
These EFAs are necessary for the following processes:
- Formation of healthy cell membranes
- Proper development and functioning of the brain and nervous system
- Proper thyroid and adrenal activity
- Hormone production
- Regulation of blood pressure, liver function, immune and inflammatory responses
- Regulation of blood clotting: Omega-6 FAs encourage blood clot formation, whereas Omega-3 oil reduces clotting. The ideal is to achieve a balance between omega-6 and omega-3 FAs
- Crucial for the transport and breakdown of cholesterol
- Support healthy skin and hair
Sources of Omega 3’s include flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, soybean and its products such as tofu and tempeh. Walnuts, and dark green veggies, such as kale, collards, chard, parsley, and cereal grasses (wheat & barley grasses), are also good sources. This is because all green (chlorophyll-rich) foods contain Omega-3 FA in their chloroplasts.
Sources of Omega-6 fatty acids include nuts, seeds, grains, legumes, and dairy.
Proteins are made up of many building blocks, known as amino acids. Our body needs dietary protein to supply amino acids for the growth and maintenance of our cells and tissues. Our dietary protein requirement changes throughout life. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recommends adults consume at least 0.83 g of protein per kg body weight per day (e.g. 58 g/day for a 70 kg adult). Plant and animal-based proteins vary in their quality and digestibility, but this is not usually a concern for most people if their total protein meets their needs. We should aim to consume protein from a variety of sources that benefits both our health and the planet.
Proteins are made up of many different amino acids linked together. There are twenty different amino acid building blocks commonly found in plants and animals. A typical protein is made up of 300 or more amino acids and the specific number and sequence of amino acids are unique to each protein. Rather like the alphabet, the amino acid ‘letters’ can be arranged in millions of different ways to create ‘words’ and an entire protein ‘language’. Depending on the number and sequence of amino acids, the resulting protein will fold into a specific shape. This shape is very important as it will determine the protein’s function (e.g. muscle or enzyme). Every species, including humans, has its own characteristic proteins.
Amino acids are classified as either essential or non-essential. As the name suggests, essential amino acids cannot be produced by the body and therefore must come from our diet. Whereas, non-essential amino acids can be produced by the body and therefore do not need to come from the diet.
- Essential Amino Acids: Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, Valine
- Non-Essential Amino Acids: Alanine, Arginine, Asparagine, Aspartate, Cysteine, Glutamate, Glutamine, Glycine, Proline, Serine, Taurine, Tyrosine
These are conditionally essential amino acids, which means they are only essential under certain conditions (e.g. for new-borns).
Most common sources of proteins are eggs, almonds, granola, milk, oats, chicken, yoghurt, quinoa, meat, pumpkin, broccoli, peanuts, lentils, cottage cheese, green peas, beans.
Importance of Proteins
Protein is crucial to good health. In fact, the name comes from the Greek word proteos, meaning “primary” or “first place.” Protein has many roles in your body. It helps repair and build your body’s tissues, allows metabolic reactions to take place and coordinates bodily functions.
Growth and Maintenance: Your body needs protein for growth and maintenance of tissues. Yet, your body’s proteins are in a constant state of turnover. Under normal circumstances, your body breaks down the same amount of protein that it uses to build and repair tissues. Other times, it breaks down more protein than it can create, thus increasing your body’s needs. This typically happens in periods of illness, during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
People recovering from an injury or surgery, older adults and athletes require more protein as well.
Causes Biochemical Reactions: Enzymes are proteins that aid the thousands of biochemical reactions that take place within and outside of your cells. The structure of enzymes allows them to combine with other molecules inside the cell called substrates, which catalyze reactions that are essential to your metabolism. Enzymes may also function outside the cell, such as digestive enzymes like lactase and sucrase, which help digest sugar. Some enzymes require other molecules, such as vitamins or minerals, for a reaction to take place. Bodily functions that depend on enzymes include:
- Energy production
- Blood clotting
- Muscle contraction
- Lack or improper function of these enzymes can result in disease
Acts as Messenger: Some proteins are hormones, which are chemical messengers that aid communication between your cells, tissues and organs. They’re made and secreted by endocrine tissues or glands and then transported in your blood to their target tissues or organs where they bind to protein receptors on the cell surface.
Hormones can be grouped into three main categories:
- Protein and Peptides: These are made from chains of amino acids, ranging from a few to several hundred.
- Steroids: These are made from the fat cholesterol. The sex hormones, testosterone and estrogen, are steroid-based.
- Amines: These are made from the individual amino acids tryptophan or tyrosine, which help make hormones related to sleep and metabolism.
- Protein and polypeptides make up most of your body’s hormones.
Some examples include:
- Insulin: Signals the uptake of glucose or sugar into the cell.
- Glucagon: Signals the breakdown of stored glucose in the liver.
- hGH (human growth hormone): Stimulates the growth of various tissues, including bone.
- ADH (antidiuretic hormone): Signals the kidneys to reabsorb water.
- ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone): Stimulates the release of cortisol, a key factor in metabolism.
Some proteins are fibrous and provide cells and tissues with stiffness and rigidity. These proteins include keratin, collagen and elastin, which help form the connective framework of certain structures in your body. Keratin is a structural protein that is found in your skin, hair and nails. Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body and is the structural protein of your bones, tendons, ligaments and skin. Elastin is several hundred times more flexible than collagen. Its high elasticity allows many tissues in your body to return to their original shape after stretching or contracting, such as your uterus, lungs and arteries.
Maintains Proper pH
Protein plays a vital role in regulating the concentrations of acids and bases in your blood and other bodily fluids. The balance between acids and bases is measured using the pH scale. It ranges from 0 to 14, with 0 being the most acidic, 7 neutral and 14 the most alkaline.
Examples of the pH value of common substances include:
- pH 2: Stomach acid
- pH 4: Tomato juice
- pH 5: Black coffee
- pH 7.4: Human blood
- pH 10: Milk of magnesia
- pH 12: Soapy water
A variety of buffering systems allows your bodily fluids to maintain normal pH ranges. A constant pH is necessary, as even a slight change in pH can be harmful or potentially deadly. One way your body regulates pH is with proteins. An example is hemoglobin, a protein that makes up red blood cells. Hemoglobin binds small amounts of acid, helping to maintain the normal pH value of your blood. The other buffer systems in your body include phosphate and bicarbonate.
Proteins regulate body processes to maintain fluid balance. Albumin and globulin are proteins in your blood that help maintain your body’s fluid balance by attracting and retaining water. If you don’t eat enough protein, your levels of albumin and globulin eventually decrease. Consequently, these proteins can no longer keep blood in your blood vessels, and the fluid is forced into the spaces between your cells.
As the fluid continues to build up in the spaces between your cells, swelling or edema occurs, particularly in the stomach region. This is a form of severe protein malnutrition called kwashiorkor that develops when a person is consuming enough calories but does not consume enough protein. Kwashiorkor is rare in developed regions of the world and occurs more often in areas of starvation.
Bolsters Immune Health
Proteins help form immunoglobulins, or antibodies, to fight infection. Antibodies are proteins in your blood that help protect your body from harmful invaders like bacteria and viruses. When these foreign invaders enter your cells, your body produces antibodies that tag them for elimination.
Without these antibodies, bacteria and viruses would be free to multiply and overwhelm your body with the disease they cause. Once your body has produced antibodies against a particular bacteria or virus, your cells never forget how to make them. This allows the antibodies to respond quickly the next time a particular disease agent invades your body. As a result, your body develops immunity against the diseases to which it is exposed.
Transports and Stores Nutrients
Transport proteins carry substances throughout your bloodstream — into cells, out of cells or within cells. The substances transported by these proteins include nutrients like vitamins or minerals, blood sugar, cholesterol and oxygen.
For example, hemoglobin is a protein that carries oxygen from your lungs to body tissues. Glucose transporters (GLUT) move glucose to your cells, while lipoproteins transport cholesterol and other fats in your blood.
Protein transporters are specific, meaning they will only bind to specific substances. In other words, a protein transporter that moves glucose will not move cholesterol. Proteins also have storage roles. Ferritin is a storage protein that stores iron. Another storage protein is casein, which is the principal protein in milk that helps babies grow.
Proteins can supply your body with energy. Protein contains four calories per gram, the same amount of energy that carbs provide. Fats supply the most energy, at nine calories per gram. However, the last thing your body wants to use for energy is protein since this valuable nutrient is widely used throughout your body.
Carbs and fats are much better suited for providing energy, as your body maintains reserves for use as fuel. Moreover, they’re metabolized more efficiently compared to protein.
In fact, protein supplies your body with very little of its energy needs under normal circumstances. However, in a state of fasting (18–48 hours of no food intake), your body breaks down skeletal muscle so that the amino acids can supply you with energy. Your body also uses amino acids from broken-down skeletal muscle if carbohydrate storage is low. This can occur after exhaustive exercise or if you don’t consume enough calories in general.
Nucleic acids are vital for cell functioning, and therefore for life. There are two types of nucleic acids, DNA and RNA. Together, they keep track of hereditary information in a cell so that the cell can maintain itself, grow, create offspring and perform any specialized functions it’s meant to do. Nucleic acids thus control the information that makes every cell, and every organism, what it is.
Nucleic acids are a macromolecule found in cells. Like proteins and polysaccharides, the other macromolecules, nucleic acids are long molecules made up of many similar linked units.
There are two classes of nucleic acids: deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA). Each is made up of four different nucleotides–adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine in DNA, and adenine, cytosine, guanine and uracil in RNA.
DNA is a hereditary molecule that maintains and transmits information that cells need in order to survive and create offspring. It has two functions: to replicate itself during cell division, and to direct transcription (creation) of RNA. The information it contains is found in genes, which are sections along the DNA molecule that contain a “code” that the cell uses to create RNA and, ultimately, proteins. DNA is a double-stranded helix; this structure helps store information safely by essentially maintaining a double copy of its information.
RNA is created when the cell “reads” genes from DNA and makes a copy of them. RNA can also function as a hereditary molecule, storing information permanently the way DNA does, in viruses. In non-viral cells, messenger RNA (mRNA) copies information from DNA and brings it to the cell’s machinery for creating proteins, the ribosomes. Ribosomes use the information in RNA as blueprints to create proteins, and proteins carry out nearly all of the cell’s functions. Transfer RNA (tRNA) carries amino acids to the ribosomes in order to synthesize proteins.
Importance of Nucleic Acids in Science
Nucleic acids are the only way a cell has to store information on its own processes and to transmit that information to its offspring. When nucleic acids were discovered to be the carriers of hereditary information, scientists were able to explain the mechanism for Darwin and Wallace’s theory of evolution and Mendel’s theory of genetics.
Importance of Nucleic Acids in Disease
Understanding how genes are read by the cell and used to create proteins creates enormous opportunities for understanding disease. Genetic diseases occur when errors are introduced into the genes that DNA carries; those errors create faulty RNA, which creates faulty proteins that don’t function the way they’re supposed to. Cancer is caused by damage to DNA or interference with the mechanisms for its replication or repair. By understanding nucleic acids and their mechanics of action, we can understand how diseases occur and, eventually, how to cure them.
Organisms require energy for various activities like muscle contraction and other cellular movements (Active transport and synthesis of macromolecules). All these processes are energetically very demanding and use chemical energy. Chemical compounds liberate energy by hydrolysis of some groups which are bound to them by high energy bonds.
They are of five types:
Phosphoanhydride: Formed between two molecules of phosphoric acid. e.g. Such kinds of bonds are found in ATP. In ATP there are two high energy di-phosphate (phosphoanhydride bonds). The third between phosphate and ribose is not as energy rich as a phosphate ester bond. ATP serves as principle immediate donor of free energy in most endergonic reactions eg. Active transport, muscle contraction, transmission of nerve impulse. Apart from ATP ,GTP(Guanidine triphosphate) is also used as an energy source in protein-synthesis and gluconeogenesis. Also UTP (Uridine triphosphate) and CTP(Cytidine triphosphate) are used as energy sources for metabolism of saccahrides and lipids respectively.
Enol Phosphate Bond: This bond is energetically very high whose hydrolysis releases 61KJ/mole. Such a kind of bond is present in phosphoenol pyruvate which in turn is formed in breakdown of glucose in glycolysis.
Acyl Phosphate Bond: This bond releases 49 KJ/mol of energy on hydrolysis. Such a bond is in 1-3 bisphosphoglycerate formed in glycolysis.
Guanidine Phosphate : It is formed when phosphate is attached to guanidine. Releases about 43 KJ/mole of energy on hydrolysis. Such a bond is present in phosphocreatine (PC). PC is found in muscle cells and acts as a reserve of energy in tissues.
Thioester Bond: It is not much high energy containing bond because there is no energy rich phosphate. Such a kind of bond is in acetyl co-A.
- Organic compounds essential to human functioning include carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and nucleotides. These compounds are said to be organic because they contain both carbon and hydrogen. Carbon atoms in organic compounds readily share electrons with hydrogen and other atoms, usually oxygen, and sometimes nitrogen. Carbon atoms also may bond with one or more functional groups such as carboxyls, hydroxyls, aminos, or phosphates. Monomers are single units of organic compounds. They bond by dehydration synthesis to form polymers, which can in turn be broken by hydrolysis.
- Carbohydrate compounds provide essential body fuel. Their structural forms include monosaccharides such as glucose, disaccharides such as lactose, and polysaccharides, including starches (polymers of glucose), glycogen (the storage form of glucose), and fiber. All body cells can use glucose for fuel. It is converted via an oxidation-reduction reaction to ATP.
- Lipids are hydrophobic compounds that provide body fuel and are important components of many biological compounds. Triglycerides are the most abundant lipid in the body, and are composed of a glycerol backbone attached to three fatty acid chains. Phospholipids are compounds composed of a diglyceride with a phosphate group attached at the molecule’s head. The result is a molecule with polar and nonpolar regions. Steroids are lipids formed of four hydrocarbon rings. The most important is cholesterol. Prostaglandins are signaling molecules derived from unsaturated fatty acids.
- Proteins are critical components of all body tissues. They are made up of monomers called amino acids, which contain nitrogen, joined by peptide bonds. Protein shape is critical to its function. Most body proteins are globular. An example is enzymes, which catalyze chemical reactions.
- Nucleotides are compounds with three building blocks: one or more phosphate groups, a pentose sugar, and a nitrogen-containing base. DNA and RNA are nucleic acids that function in protein synthesis. ATP is the body’s fundamental molecule of energy transfer. Removal or addition of phosphates releases or invests energy.
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