4 List of the Categories of Essential Biochemical Compounds

We often hear about biochemistry,  but do you know what it is? Find more about biochemistry in Sub Branches of Biochemistry. First of all, biochemical compounds are essential to life. That’s why we often hear about them. Without those compounds, there will be no plants, no animals and even no human. Biochemical compounds make up living things.

The simple definition of biochemical compounds is that they are carbon-based. Those carbon-based compounds are found in living things. They are involved in various processes such as growth, digestion, respiration, etc. In the Earth, all of the biochemical compounds contain hydrogen and oxygen. They also contain sulfur, nitrogen and phosphorus.

There are 4 list of the categories of essential biochemical compounds. They are carbohydrates, proteins, lipids and nucleic acids.

Class Elements Examples
Carbohydrates carbon
Proteins carbon
Lipids carbon
Nucleic acids carbon

More about those categories, here is the list of the categories of essential biochemical compounds:

1. Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates or saccharides consist of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms. There are two compounds that form carbohydrates, aldehydes and ketones. Aldehydes are double bonded carbon and oxygen atoms with addition of one hydrogen atom. Whereas, ketones are double bonded carbon and oxygen atoms with two additional carbon atoms.

Carbohydrates are also known as carbs, sugars or starches. They are found in wide array of foods such as bread, beans, potatoes, cookies, soft drink, milk, spaghetti, etc. Carbohydrates are major food source which provide body with the glucose. The glucose is then converted to energy used to do physical activities and support body functions. More about uses of essential biochemicals in Applications of Biochemistry.

There are 3 types of carbohydrates, which are monosaccharides, disaccharides and polysaccharides. Monosaccharides are the smallest possible sugar unit. The examples of monosaccharides are glucose, galactose and fructose. Instead of a unit sugar, disaccharides contain two monosaccharide molecules bonded together such as lactose, maltose and sucrose.

The last one, polysaccharides are a chain of two or more monosaccharides. They may contain hundreds or even thousands of monosaccharides. Glycogen, starches and cellulose are some forms of polysaccharides.

Sometime, people tend to divide carbs into two types: simple and complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are sugars. Chemically, they are monosaccharides and disaccharides. This type of carbohydrates provides rapid source of energy so that consumer soon feels hungry again. Simple carbohydrates are found in bread, sugars and candies.

Meanwhile, complex carbohydrates are actually polysaccharides. Those consist of long chains of sugar molecules. Wholegrains and fiber are the examples. They fill you up for longer and are healthier. Other examples include fruits, pulses, vegetables and whole meal pasta. You may want to read Chemicals in Food (Good and Dangerous Ingredients).

2. Proteins

Proteins are highly complex substances which exist in all living organisms. They are macronutrients which are essential to build muscle mass. Proteins are found in muscle, skin, hair and other body tissues. Inside human’s body, proteins make up the enzymes which are useful in many chemical reactions within body. They also support hemoglobin carrying oxygen through the blood. The proteins’ sources in food are animal products, nuts and legumes.

You have already known the functions of proteins, where they can be found, but what are they exactly? Chemically, proteins are composed of amino acids. Amino acids are compounds made from carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen and sulfur. You can say that these acids are the building blocks of proteins.

Proteins are macromolecular polypeptides. The structure of peptides consists of the free -amino group (N terminus of the peptide) at the left side and the free carboxyl group (C terminus) at the right side. As a very large molecule, protein is composed of many peptide-bonded amino acids. The most common proteins contain more than 100 amino acids linked to each other in a long peptide chain.

More about sources of proteins, all food made from meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, soy, beans and peas, hemp, whey, nuts and seeds contain proteins. The first four mentioned are animal sources of proteins. The animal sources of proteins delivers all the amino acids needed by human. Related to Branches of Animal Biochemistry.

3. Lipids

When you have your routine health check, you may also check levels of three fats found in the blood, LDL, HDL and triglycerides. Those three types of fats are lipids. Actually, lipids do not contain only three types of compounds. Lipids are larger than those mentioned before. They may contain even thousand types of fats inside human body.

Lipid is a group of organic compounds, the definition of organic compound is Sub Branches of Organic Chemistry , including fats, oils, hormones and certain components of membranes. These compounds are grouped together as they do not interact appreciably with water. The one mentioned before, triglycerides, are sequestered as fat in adipose cells.  They are the energy storage depot for organisms and provide thermal insulation.

Steroid hormone, a type of hormones and lipids, has function as a chemical messenger between cells, tissues, organs and others. It communicates signals between biochemical systems within a single cell. Meanwhile, other type of lipids, membranes, have function to separate individual cells from their environments and to compartmentalize the cell interior into structures that carry out certain functions. Those functions make them essentially needed in life.

4. Nucleic Acids

Nucleic acids is small molecules as the essential form of life. A nucleic acid is a long molecule which is made up of smaller molecules, the nucleotides. Nucleic acid allow to organism to transfers the genetic information to one generation and so on.

There are two types of nucleic acids, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA).

DNA is a molecule that contains the instructions to develop, live and reproduce needed by organisms. These instructions are within every cell. To fit inside cells, DNA is coiled tightly to form structures called as chromosomes. In DNA, each nucleotide contains a phosphate group, a sugar group and a nitrogen base.

There are four types of nitrogen bases: adenine (A), thymine (T), guanine (G) and cytosine (C). The order of these bases determines the genetic codes or the instructions.

Other type, RNA, is essential for the synthesis of proteins. The genetic codes are passed from DNA to RNA resulting proteins. RNA also has its own classification. It is divided into four types: messenger RNA (mRNA), transfer RNA (tRNA), ribosomal RNA (rRNA) and microRNAs (miRNAs). mRNA is copy of DNA message produced during DNA transcription. The transfer RNA (tRNA) is necessary for translating mRNA in protein synthesis. Protein synthesis also involves a component of ribosomes, the ribosomal RNA (rRNA). The last one, micro RNAs (miRNAs) are small RNAs to regulate gene expressions.