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3: Chemistry of Life

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    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
      Joseph 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
      If you look at your hand, what do you see? Of course you see skin, which consists of cells. But what are skin cells made of? Like all living cells, they are made of matter. In fact, all things are made of matter.
    • 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. It's hard to break up a mother and baby, or a molecule made up of one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms!
    • 3.4: Biochemical Compounds
      What do all these foods have in common? All of them consist mainly of large compounds called carbohydrates, often referred to as "carbs." 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
      Where would we be without our jeans? They have been the go-to pants for many people for decades, and they are still as popular as ever. Jeans are made of denim, a type of cotton fabric.
    • 3.6: Lipids
      It glistens with fat, from the cheese to the steak. You may never have visited Philadelphia, but you probably know about its famous gastronomic delight, the Philly cheesesteak, pictured here.
    • 3.7: Proteins
      Drinks like this shake contain a lot of protein. Such drinks are popular with people who want to build muscle because muscle tissue consists mainly of protein. Making up muscles is just one of a plethora of functions of this amazingly diverse class of biochemicals.
    • 3.8: Nucleic Acids
      Nucleic acids are the class of biochemical compounds that includes DNA and RNA. These molecules are built of small monomers called nucleotides. Many nucleotides bind together to form a chain called a polynucleotide. The nucleic acid DNA(deoxyribonucleic acid) consists of two polynucleotide chains. The nucleic acid RNA(ribonucleic acid) consists of just one polynucleotide chain.
    • 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," and it's been given the nickname "the blue marble." You probably just call it "home." Almost three quarters of our home planet is covered by water, and without it, life as we know it could not exist on Earth. Water, like carbon, has a special role in living things.
    • 3.12: Acids and Bases
      You probably know that car batteries like this one contain dangerous chemicals such as 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.
    • 3.13: Case Study Diet Conclusion 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. Image used with permission (Public Domain; Benjah-bmm27).

    This page titled 3: Chemistry of Life is shared under a CK-12 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Suzanne Wakim & Mandeep Grewal via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.

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