Overview of Carbohydrates

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Chapter: Biochemistry : Introduction to Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates (saccharides) are the most abundant organic molecules in nature.


OVERVIEW

Carbohydrates (saccharides) are the most abundant organic molecules in nature. They have a wide range of functions, including providing a significant fraction of the dietary calories for most organisms, acting as a storage form of energy in the body, and serving as cell membrane components that mediate some forms of intercellular communication. Carbohydrates also serve as a structural component of many organisms, including the cell walls of bacteria, the exoskeleton of many insects, and the fibrous cellulose of plants. The empiric formula for many of the simpler carbohydrates is (CH2O) n, where n ≥ 3, hence the name “hydrate of carbon.”


Figure 7.1 Examples of monosaccharides found in humans, classified according to the number of carbons they contain.

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