The 4 Classes of Organic Compounds Containing Carbon

Organic compounds are chemical compounds we find in living things. These compounds contain carbon, as well as hydrogen. These two chemical elements link to one another in long chains.

In the long chains, carbon is the backbone while hydrogen atoms are connected to the carbon atoms. The ability of atoms to join to one another is what makes the form of countless compounds possible.

The 4 Classes Of Carbon-Containing Organic Compounds

Among the many types of it, there are 4 classes of organic compounds containing carbon. They are carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids.

  • Carbohydrates

One of the major organic compounds we can find in all living things is carbohydrates. These compounds are formed by carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen which among those three, hydrogen is the biggest composer.

We must be all very common with carbohydrates’ role as the source of energy. As the fuel for living things, there are three kinds of carbohydrates. The one that composed of single molecules is called monosaccharides while the one that composed of two molecules are called disaccharides. The last kind of carbohydrates is polysaccharides. These are composed of numerous monosaccharides.

One of the examples of monosaccharides is glucose. Glucose is very important because of its many functions. It has soluble characteristic so the body fluids can transport it to our cells all over our body. Then, glucose will go through the metabolism process which results in the release of energy. This type of sugar is also highly necessity in cellular respiration.


Just like monosaccharides, some important examples of disaccharides also exist in living organisms. They are maltose, sucrose, and lactose. The same importance of existence also applies to polysaccharides.

One of the most important polysaccharides is starch. Starch is found in the form of rice, wheat, corn, and potatoes. Indeed many people are depending on these agricultural products to fulfill their needs for food.

  • Lipids

The contents of lipids are the same as carbohydrates. It also has carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. The difference is the hydrogen ratio on this organic compound is bigger than in carbohydrates.

There are many examples of lipids and one of them is fats. The composition of fat molecules is a glycerol molecule and up to three fatty acids. There are some fatty acids which molecules have one or more double bonds. Fats that have these molecules are unsaturated fats. Plants such as avocado and nuts are the sources of unsaturated fats. That is why people tend to consume them than saturated fats.

Plants and animals store fats. Plants store it in their seeds while animals do it in adipose tissue, in its globules precisely. There is much-concentrated energy in the stored fats. This is the energy the animals keep for the future needs of the organism.

  • Proteins

Proteins are very complex organic compounds. Its complexity is because of the many compounds composing proteins. These compounds consist of amino acids which have carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen atoms in it. The amino acids are already pretty complex.

There are 20 kinds of these compounds and some of them do not only contain carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen but also other elements. It can be sulfur, phosphorus, iron, or copper.


There are various structures of cells inside living things. The cells have some watery materials. While some proteins are dissolved in it, some are not. The latter will be united to form the cells structures. Not only do proteins from the cells, but they also support and strengthen the tissue outside of the cells, such as bone, cartilages, tendons, and ligaments.

Proteins also have the role as enzymes. As enzymes, they are needed in the chemical reactions held inside the cells. They will act as the catalyst for the reactions. Besides that, proteins also have similar use with carbohydrates. They are both stored to be the energy supply for our needs in the future.

Based on the explanation above, we can conclude that proteins, as part of the 4 classes of organic compounds containing carbon, are what the living organisms depending on regarding their existence.

  • Nucleic Acids

The last part of the 4 classes of organic compounds containing carbon is nucleic acids. These compounds are formed by nucleotides. In every nucleotide, there are three compounds we can find. They are a carbohydrate molecule, a phosphate group, and a nitrogenous base. The last one is a molecule containing nitrogen.

There are two nucleic acids inside every living thing. The first one is DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and RNA (ribonucleic acid). These two are located differently. DNA is in the nucleus of the cell while RNA can be found in the nucleus and the cytoplasm, the material we can find inside the cell.

The content of DNA and RNA is different. DNA has carbohydrate deoxyribose within it while RNA has ribose. They also have different shapes. DNA’s form is twisted and ladder-like while RNA has a large number of unalike forms.

DNA and RNA are very important for human beings. Everybody has their gene and DNA is the one that composes it. then, the gene will give the code needed to create a specific protein. This is where RNA plays its role. RNA will help DNA to create the proteins.