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Classification of Carbohydrates

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Introduction

Classification of Carbohydrates All living things are made up from four classes of large biological molecules, carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and nucleic acids, each of which are made from smaller building blocks, monomers, which we shall consider shortly. Carbohydrates are molecules that play vitally important roles in many different biological processes, depending upon use, the structure and function of carbohydrates vary considerably. All organisms need energy to carryout vital functions. Carbohydrates are a primary source of energy for specific cells and many major organs in the body. Our brains, nervous systems, muscles and red blood cells all constantly rely upon a supply of carbohydrates in the form of glucose to remain active and alert. The main source and the majority of carbohydrates in our food are derived from plants, though animal products such as milk and dairy products contribute to this also. ...read more.

Middle

Perhaps the most notable identifying feature of a sugar is the distinctive sweet taste it possesses. We may consider the sugars to be simple carbohydrates; monosaccharides; which exhibits just one sugar unit-molecule, (because of this they are readily absorbed into the bloodstream and need little breaking down), another type of sugar is the double sugars, disaccharides; these are the formation of two saccharides joined together through glycosidic bonding and the loss of a water molecule through condensation reactions. They contain as the name suggest just two monosaccharide units and possess the same properties and characteristics of the simple monosaccharide sugars, with the only exception being they are slightly less soluble in water with being a slightly larger molecule. We may refer to a monosaccharide as being a monomer, in that each individual sugar unit is a molecule in its own right, so one sugar unit can be termed a saccharide -the monomer unit of a carbohydrate. ...read more.

Conclusion

Consisting of and formed from many monomer units, polysaccharides are polymers of repeating sugar units joined together in a process termed polymerisation. It is the carbon atoms of the monomers that actually join to from these longer chains, something which can be seen within the diagram of a polysaccharide. A process which as seen within the formation of a disaccharide sees the loss of a water molecule for every glycosidic bond made as a result of a condensation reaction. It should be pointed out at this juncture that the glycosidic bonds are broken with the re-addition of a water molecule, separating out again a single monomer unit from either a polysaccharide or a disaccharide. A polymer, we may consider to be a long molecule which consists of either many identical or similar building blocks that are linked covalently. Polysaccharides can be vast in size in comparison to a monosaccharide, a feature which makes them ideally suitable for functions such as storage. ...read more.

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