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Biology LibreTexts

3: Chemistry of Life

  • Page ID
    16731
  • This chapter provides the chemistry background needed to understand the human body, its functions, and its processes. The chapter describes biochemical compounds and reactions as well as the significance of water to life.

    • 3.1: Case Study: Chemistry and Your Life
      Mohinder is a college student who has watched his father suffer from complications of type 2 diabetes over the past few years.
    • 3.2: Elements and Compounds
      An element is a pure substance. It cannot be broken down into other types of substances. Each element is made up of just one type of atom.
    • 3.3: Chemical Bonding
      When you think of bonding, you may not think of ions. Like most of us, you probably think of bonding between people. Like people, molecules bond -- and some bonds are stronger than others.
    • 3.4: Biochemical Compounds
      Biochemical compounds make up the cells and other structures of organisms and carry out life processes. Carbon is the basis of all biochemical compounds, so carbon is essential to life on Earth. Contrary to popular belief, carbohydrates are an important part of a healthy diet. They are also one of four major classes of biochemical compounds.
    • 3.5: Carbohydrates
      Carbohydrates are the most common class of biochemical compounds. They include sugars and starches. Carbohydrates are used to provide or store energy, among other uses. Like most biochemical compounds, carbohydrates are built of small repeating units, or monomers, which form bonds with each other to make larger molecules, called polymers. In the case of carbohydrates, the small repeating units are known as monosaccharides.
    • 3.6: Lipids
      Lipids are a major class of biochemical compounds that includes oils and fats. Organisms use lipids to store energy and for many other uses. Lipid molecules consist mainly of repeating units called fatty acids. There are two types of fatty acids: saturated and unsaturated. Both types consist mainly of simple chains of carbon atoms bonded to one another and to hydrogen atoms.
    • 3.7: Proteins
      Protein shakes are popular with people who want to build muscle because muscle tissue consists mainly of protein. Proteins are one of the four major Macromolecules.
    • 3.8: Nucleic Acids
      DNA and RNA are polynucleotides and categorized under Nucleic acids, a type of Macromolecule. They are built of small monomers called nucleotides.
    • 3.9: Energy in Chemical Reactions
      These old iron chains give off a small amount of heat as they rust. The rusting of iron is a chemical process. It occurs when iron and oxygen go through a chemical reaction similar to burning, or combustion.
    • 3.10: Chemical Reactions in Living Things
      We stay alive because millions of different chemical reactions are taking place inside our bodies all the time.
    • 3.11: Biochemical Properties of Water
      It's often called the "water planet," or "the blue marble." You probably just call it "home." Almost three-quarters of our home planet is covered by water. Water, like carbon, has a special role in living things.
    • 3.12: Acids and Bases
      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.
    • 3.13: Case Study Conclusion: Diet and Chapter Summary
      After reading this chapter, you should be able to see numerous connections between chemistry, human life, and health.

    Thumbnail: 3D model of L-tryptophan. (Public Domain; Benjah-bmm27).

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