Which Element Is The Major Component of Organic Molecules in All Living Organisms?

Organic molecules are molecules that consist of carbon. Although you can find carbon in every organic molecule, some non-organic molecules contain carbon.

Some of the examples are carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), carbonates (such as calcium carbonate), carbides (such as calcium carbide), and cyanides (such as sodium cyanide).

Carbon is the major component of organic molecules in all living organisms. But are there any common elements in these molecules? Yes, they are! Here are carbon and some other elements that can be found in organic molecules.


Elements Of Organic Molecules In All Living Organisms

You may be asking about which element is the major component of organic molecules in all living organisms, here are the explanations.

  1. Carbon

Organic compounds are found in living organisms. Its function is to form cells and structures of the living organisms. They are also responsible to carry out life processes. As mentioned above, carbon is the major component of organic molecules which means carbon has a significant role in the occurrence of life.

Carbon is an extraordinary element. It can form bonds with various kinds of elements. Carbon can form stable bonds with hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. The shape formed from the bonds also varies, from straight chained and branched chains to rings. This characteristic of carbon makes it possible for this element to form very large and complicated molecules.

Related: The use of carbon on daily life

As a crucial part of the organic compounds, carbon is one of the elements in these four fundamental organic compounds. These compounds can be found not only in the living organisms’ diets abut also inside their bodies.

  • Carbohydrates: This compound functions to form the structure of the body. It also stores and provides energy to the cells.
  • Lipids: just like carbohydrates, this compound is also responsible to store energy. It also forms cells membranes and carries messages.
  • Proteins: This is the compound that helps the cells in our body to keep its shape/structure. This is also what you need when you want to build muscles. Similar to lipids, proteins carry messages and materials.
  • Nucleic Acids: this compound helps to make proteins (RNA) and determined the characteristics of organisms based on their genetic code (DNA).
  1. Hydrogen

Hydrogen is one of the elements commonly found in organic molecules which is popular as the simplest chemical element. Although it can only form a single bond, Hydrogen can form the widest range of compounds variations.

As noted, there are four fundamental organic compounds. Among those four, hydrogen is an element for two of them, which are carbohydrate and protein. Hydrogen indeed has some uses in both organic compound.

Carbohydrate is the one responsible to give the starchy shape to the plants. While in protein, hydrogen is one of the contents of this compound. The whole protein itself is needed to form the structure of animals.

Related: The uses of hydrogen on daily life

  1. Nitrogen

As an element of organic molecules, nitrogen might be not as popular as the other elements. But, the existence of this element is very important, proved by the fact that more than 75% of the atmosphere surrounding the earth consists of nitrogen.

You can find nitrogen in two fundamental organic compounds, they are proteins and nucleic acids. In this case, nitrogen is a part of the proteins that function as a catalyst in essential biochemical reactions which not only build the tissues and organs but also keep living organisms growing, adapting, and reproducing.

Related: The functions of nitrogen in growing plants

An example of nucleic acids is DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid). In the DNA, nitrogen is part of the structure. It appears as pyrimidines and purines. Pyrimidines have single-ring structures while purines have double-ring structures.

  1. Oxygen

Oxygen is an element with many functions. Regarding the four fundamental organic compounds, oxygen is one of the elements which form each of those compounds. On the daily life, for sure we feel the need of oxygen for respiration. Besides that, we also need oxygen in our body. Haemoglobin, a globular protein, is responsible to carry oxygen from the lung to the tissues all over the body.

Oxygen is also the element of the carbohydrates besides carbon and hydrogen which ratio is there are two hydrogens for every oxygen. As part of the carbohydrates, it shows the importance of oxygen in providing energy for living cells.


Not only do we find oxygen inside our body but also in the atmosphere. Carbon is indeed the major component of organic molecules in all living organisms. But we cannot deny the fact that we need oxygen to exist to keep us alive.

  1. Phosphorus

Similar to nitrogen, phosphorus also has remarkable uses despite being unpopular. Among the six elements, carbon is the major component of organic molecules in all living organisms.

But, as stated, phosphorus has some major roles. It forms phospholipid bilayers in the cells of plants and animals. These layers are the reason cell membranes have great integrity and have the absorbent characteristic.

  1. Sulfur

Sulfur is the element we can find in all proteins, especially in cysteine and methionine which are required to make proteins. This is also an essential element in photosynthesis. It helps the bacteria to execute their job in the process of photosynthesis.