Structural Biochemistry/Carbohydrates/Breaking Down of Carbohydrates

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Overview[edit | edit source]

All cells require energy for continual survival and operation. This energy comes from energy-containing compounds such as sugars, starch or lipids. The breakdown and interconversion of these energy-containing compounds in living organisms is a biochemical process coined Carbohydrate metabolism.

Humans[edit | edit source]

Carbohydrate metabolism is carried out by aerobic respiration where glucose and oxygen are metabolized releasing water and carbon dioxide. In cellular respiration metabolic reactions in order to convert the energy stored in the carbohydrate into ATP (adenosine triphosphate). ATP is created and is often referred to as "the molecular unit of currency" for intracellular energy transfer. ATP stores the now broken down energy and transports it to different areas of the cell when needed.

Carbohydrates are stored as polysaccharides consisting of longer polymers of glucose(monosaccharides) by glycosidic bonds. When energy is needed or to be stored, these polysaccharides are cleaved into their smaller monosaccharides units in preparation for catabolism. Carbohydrate catabolism is this breakdown of larger carbohydrates into smaller pieces in order to retrieve the energy within the bonds.

There are also other types of Carbohydrate metabolism such as glycolysis, anaerobic respiration, glycogenesis and more. [1] [2]

For the human body, glucose is used as the main source of energy. The breaking down of the glucose carbohydrates takes place during metabolism, thus releasing energy to the body. The chemical formula for the breakdown of glucose is the following:

C6H12O6 + 6 O2 → 6 CO2 + 6 H2O + energy

Plants[edit | edit source]

Plants utilize many of the same metabolic reactions to metabolize Carbohydrates. Invalid <ref> tag; refs with no name must have content.

Carbohydrates are compounds that bring energy to living cells. In order to provide energy to the cells, the enzyme needs to distribute and metabolize in a certain manner. One type of carbohydrate is starch, a compound that stores energy until it is needed within the living organism. Starch can break down its carbohydrates into glucose units, which can then disperse into the blood stream of a living organism and provide energy to its cells.

References[edit | edit source]

Capri, Anthony. "Nutrients and Biochemistry". Last accessed: 30 Nov. 2011.

  1. G Cooper, The Cell, American Society of Microbiology, p 72
  2. Stetten, DeWitt Jr. and Topper, Yale J. Seminars on Carbohydrate Metabolism: "The Metabolism of Carbohydrates, A Review", American Journal of Medicine. Bethesda, Maryland