Chemistry and Carbohydrates

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The Chemistry of Carbohydrates The chemistry of carbohydrates most closely resembles that of alcohol, aldehyde, and ketone functional groups. As a result, the modern definition of a carbohydrate is that the compounds are polyhydroxy aldehydes or ketones. The chemistry of carbohydrates is complicated by the fact that there is a functional group (alcohol) on almost every carbon. In addition, the carbohydrate may exist in either a straight chain or a ring structure. Ring structures incorporate two additional functional groups: the hemiacetal and acetal. A major part of the carbon cycle occurs as carbon dioxide is converted to carbohydrates through photosynthesis. Carbohydrates are utilized by animals and humans in metabolism to produce energy and other compounds. Carbohydrates are initially synthesized in plants form a complex series of reactions involving photosynthesis. They store energy in the form of starch or glycogen in animals and humans. They provide energy through metabolism pathways and cycles. Carbohydrates also supply carbon for synthesis of other compounds. (Berdanier, Pgs 45-47). Metabolism occurs in animals and humans after the ingestion of organic plant or animal foods. In the cells a series of complex reactions occurs with oxygen to convert. For example glucose sugar into the products of carbon dioxide and water and energy. This reaction is also carried out by bacteria in the decomposition/decay of waste maters on land and in water. Combustion occurs when any organic material is reacted or burned in the presence of oxygen to give off the products of carbon dioxide and water and energy. The organic material can be any fossil fuel such as natural gas (methane), oil, or coal. Other organic materials that combust are wood, paper, plastics, and cloth. The whole purpose of both processes is to convert chemical energy into other forms of energy such as heat. All carbohydrates are made up of units of sugar (also called saccharide units). Carbohydrates that contain only one sugar unit (monosaccharides) or two sugar units (disaccharides) are referred to as simple sugars. Simple sugars are sweet in taste and are broken down quickly in the body to release energy. Two of the most common monosaccharides are glucose and fructose. Glucose is the primary form of sugar stored in the human body for ener... ... middle of paper ... ...o these animals can digest cellulose. There is now a large amount of evidence that carbohydrates can improve the performance of athletes. During high intensity exercise, carbohydrates are the main fuel for the muscles. By consuming high levels of carbohydrate before, during and after training or an event, glycogen stores are kept well stocked. These stocks help the athlete to perform for longer and help their bodies sustain the effort. The vital role of physical activity in maintaining health and fitness in the general population is now recognized. For those who want to keep fit and active, a well-balanced high-carbohydrate diet is recommended. Works Cited 1. Berdanier, Carolyn D. Carbohydrate Metabolism. Washington, 1976. 2. Honeyman, John. Introduction to the Chemistry of Carbohydrates. Oxford, Clarendon, 1968. 3. Robyt, John F. Essentials of Carbohydrate Chemistry. New York, 1998. 4. Bradley, Ron. “The Basics of Carbohydrates.” Eufic Inc. Aug 9, 1998. 5. “Carbohydrates.” Vision Learning. The National Science Foundation, 2003.

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