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Chemical Composition of Carbohydrate

A carbohydrate is any member of a widespread class of natural organic substances that includes sugars, starch and
cellulose. The chemical composition of carbohydrates - as analysed in the nineteenth century - is a combination of
carbon (C), hydrogen (H) and water (H2O). Many carbs have the general chemical formula Cx(H2O)x, but the
class is too large to fit into a simple chemical formula. Carbohydrates are often isomers - meaning, they have the
same atomic composition but different structures. Fructose, galactose and glucose are isomers with the chemical
formula C6H12O6. There are many classification schemes for carbohydrates. The most common one separates
them into 4 major groups: monosaccharides, disaccharides, oligosaccharides and polysaccharides.
Types of Carbohydrates

Molecules of monosaccharides (simple sugars) usually contain 5-6 carbon atoms. Three most common
monosaccharide carbohydrates include (a) glucose (also called dextrose, grape sugar or corn sugar; (b) fructose
(fruit sugar); and galactose. Glucose is a constituent of the two most widespread disaccharides, sucrose and
lactose, and is the sole structural constituent of the polysaccharides cellulose, starch and glycogen. Galactose is a
common constiuent of oligosaccharides and polysaccharides (eg. agar, carrageenan), and also is found in
carbohydrate-containing lipids called glycolipids located in brain and nerve tissue.

Disaccharides are composed of 2 simple sugar molecules, hence they are sometimes referred to as "double
sugars". For example, the disaccharide sucrose contains one molecule of glucose and one molecule of fructose.
Other disaccharide carbs include lactose (milk sugar), mannose, and maltose.

Oligosaccharides - carbohydrates with 3-6 monosaccharide units - are rarer. Many oligosaccharides are prepared
by breaking down polysaccharide complex carbs. Most naturally occurring oligosaccharides are found in plants.
For example, raffinose is a trisaccharide consisting of melibiose (galactose and glucose) and fructose. By
comparison, maltotriose, a trisaccharide of glucose, occurs both in plants and in the bloodstream of certain

Polysaccharides (eg. cellulose, starch, glycogen) are much larger molecules which comprise up to 10,000
monosaccharides. Most of the stored carbohydrates in nature occur in the form of polysaccharides. For example,
glycogen - the stored carbohydrate found in the muscles and liver of humans and many animals - consists of a
complex chain of glucose molecules. The two most well known polysaccharides are cellulose and starch. Cellulose
- the basic structural material in plants - contains over 3,000 glucose molecules. We encounter cellulose in the form
of insoluble dietary fiber. Starch refers to a class of plant-based polysaccharides made up of units of glucose.
Starches typically comprise a combination of two substances: amylose and amylopectin. We metabolize starch in
our digestive system in stages. First, digestive enzymes called amylases convert the starch into maltose. As the
maltose is absorbed through the walls of the intestine it is hydrolyzed to glucose and distributed to cells and
muscles for

A. Simple Lipids
1. Triglycerides, neutral fats: Found in adipose tissue, butterfat, lard, suet,
fish oils, olive oil, corn oil, etc. Esters of three molecules of fatty acids
plus one molecule of glycerol; the fatty acid may all be different.
2. Waxes: beeswax, head oil of sperm whale, cerumen, carnauba oil, and
lanolin. Composed of esters of fatty acids with alcohol other than glycerol;
of industrial and medicinal importance.
B. Compound Lipids
1. Phospholipids (phosphatides): Found chiefly in animal tissues.
Substituted fats, consisting of phosphatidic acid; composed of glycerol,
fatty acids, and phosphoric acid bound in ester linkage to a nitrogenous
2. Lecithin: Found in brain, egg yolk, and organ meats. Phosphatidyl choline
or serine; phosphatide linked to choline; a lipotropic agent; important in
fat metabolism and transport; used as emulsigying agent in the food
3. Cephalin: Occurs predominantly in nervous tissue. Phosphatidyl
ethanolamine; phosphatide linage to serine or ethanolamine; plays a role in
blood clotting.
4. Plasmalogen: Found in brain, heart, and muscle. Phosphatidal
ethanolamine or choline; phosphatide containing an aliphatic aldehyde.
5. Lipositol: Found in brain, heart, kidneys, and plant tissues together with
phytic acid. Phosphatidyl inositol; phosphatide linked to inositol; rapid
synthesis and degradation in brain; evidence for role in cell transport
6. Sphingomyelin: Found in nervous tissue, brain, and red blood cells.
Sphingosine-containing phosphatide; yields fatty acids, choline,
sphingosine, phosphoric acid, and no glycerol; source of phosphoric acid
in body tissue.
7. Glycolipids:
a. Cerebroside: myline sheaths of nerves, brain, and other tissues.
Yields on hydrolysis of fatty acids, sphingosine, galactose (or
glucose), but not fatty acids; includes kerasin and phrenosin.
b. Ganglioside: brain, nerve tissue, and other selected tissues, notably
spleen; contains a ceramide linked to hexose (glucose or
galactose), neuraminic acid, sphingosine, and fatty acids.
c. Sulfolipid: white matter of brain, liver, and testicle; also plant
chloroplast. Sulfur-containing glycolipid; sulfate present in ester
linkage to galactose.
d. Proteolipids: brain and nerve tissue. Complexes of protein and
lipids having solubility properties of lipids.
C. Terpenoids and Steroids
1. Terpenes: Found in essential oils, resin acids, rubber, plant pigments such
as caotenese and lycopenes, Vitamin A, and camphor. Large group of
compounds made up of repeating isoprene units; Vitamin A of nutritional
interest; fat soluble Vitamin E and K, which are also related chemically to
2. Sterols:
a. Cholesterol: found in egg yolk, dairy products, and animal tissues.
A consituent of bile acids and a precursor of Vitamin D.
b. Ergosterol: found in plant tissues, yeast, and fungi. Converted to
Vitamin D2 on irradiation.
c. 7-dehydrocholesterol: found in animal tissues and underneath
skin. Converted to D3 on irradiation.
3. Androgens and estrogens: (Sex hormones) Found in ovaries and testes.
4. Adrenal corticolsteroids: adrenal cortex, blood.
D. Derived lipids
1. Fatty acids: occur in plant and animal foods; also exhibit in complex
forms with other substances. Obtained from hydrolysis of fats; usually
contains an even number of carbon atoms and are straight chain
Classification of fatty acids is based on the length of the carbon chain
(short, medium, or long); the number of double bonds (unsaturated,
mono-, or polyunsaturated); or essentiality in the diet (essential or non-
essential). A current designation is based on the position of the endmost
double bond, counting from the methyl (CH3) carbon, called the omega
end. The most important omega fatty acids are: Omega 6 - linolein and
arachidonic acids and Omega 3 - linolenic, eicosapentaenoic, and
docosahexaenoic acids.


Nucleic acids contain carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and phosphorus. They are
composed of nucleotides. A nucleotide consists of a nitrogen-containing base, a sugar and
a phosphate group. There are two kinds of nucleic acids: DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid)
and RNA (ribonucleic acid).

In DNA, the bases are adenine A, thymine T, guanine G and cytosine C. The sugar is
deoxyribose. In RNA the bases are the same except thymine is replaced by uracil. The
sugar in RNA is ribose.

In DNA, there are two chains of nucleotides held together by hydrogen bonds. The chains
are coiled into a helix. An adenine in one chain is always across from a thymine in the
other and vice versa. Guanine is always across from cytosine. RNA molecules are single-
stranded. Genes are segments of DNA.

RNA functions in synthesis of proteins. There are three types. Messenger RNA (m-RNA)
carries the genetic message from the nucleus to the ribosomes in the cytoplasm. Transfer
RNA (t-RNA) brings amino acids to the ribosomes and serves as

Gigantic molecules which contain carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and sulfur.
Proteins are made up of chains of amino acids. A protein may consist of one or more

The sequence of amino acids - which amino acid is where- is the primary structure of a
protein. The chain of amino acids is then folded to form a helix, (imagine a wire wrapped
around a cylinder) or a pleated sheet, these are secondary structures. How the chain is
folded in 3-dimensions to result in a compact globular shape is the tertiary structure. In
some proteins there is more than one chain. How 2 or more chains are arranged is the
quaternary structure. Not all proteins have tertiary and quaternary structures.

Functions of Protein
Structural - hair, nails, skin, feathers, collagen in cartilage.

Enzymes - catalysts, increase rate of chemical reactions.

Hormones - chemical messengers, some are proteins.