Biochemistry Introduction

Graduation Requirements
Health Science Biological Laboratory
Field & Cluster
Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources Health and Bio Science
Equipment/Materials Needed
No special equipment or materials
Biochemistry Introduction
The chemistry of living organisms
Badge Completion Requirements

Four biologically important chemical compounds




     Amino Acids

four macro mol. of life

All biological molecules contain a combination of:

Characteristics ----CHON---Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, and Nitrogen

image of carbohydrates

Simple Sugars ( all sugars are composed of monosaccharides connected in long chains)


      5-carbon sugars




Ribose is the 5 carbon sugar which is the "R" in RNA, Ribose Nucleic Acid

However, when we think of sugar we tend to think of the following:

  6 carbon sugars





These sugars combine to form various sugars including table sugar, sucrose

6-carbon sugars

Here the sugars are represented by a straight line structure. However, they normally occur in cyclic structures


All are six-carbon sugars, the only thing that differs is the placement of the OH groups making them isomers.

Chemical Isomers-chemicals with the same molecular formula but different arrangements of atoms (same C, H, O, and N just in different arrangements)

Any time we break a chemical bond Energy is Released- the energy would be in the form of ATP



Monosaccharides are used as the principal energy source in living things

Monosaccharides are the basic building blocks for all sugar


The body can only perform two types of reactions: 

Dehydration synthesis- condensation reaction-removing water to create larger compounds

Hydrolysis reaction-chemical breakdown using water



Disaccharides are formed by linking 2 monosaccharide’s together

     Sucrose- table sugar glucose + fructose

     Lactose- milk sugar glucose + galactose

     Maltose-grain sugar glucose + glucose

Please provide additional resources supporting the accuracy of this video.


Below is a list according to the sweetness of carbohydrates. 

sweetness scale




 Poly means many or many saccharides

 Polysaccharides are formed by connecting many monosaccharides together

 Otherwise: glucose in long chains or coils

     Three types of polysaccharides

          1) Starch (amylose) is the way plants store sugar 

                 Plants examples potatoes, rice, wheat, corn (only plants produce starch)

          2) Cellulose 

               Cell walls contain cellulose. Normally we think of plants having cell walls. Humans                           cannot digest cellulose. 

               However, humans do need indigestible fiber or roughage. Cellulose is indigestible fiber.                   The indigestible fiber helps maintain the flow of material through the large intestine. 


             Experts recommend the average intake of about 30 grams of fiber daily.                     Most American's average around 8 grams daily. Some testing indicates that there may be a          connection between the increase in colon cancer and the consumption of fiber. 

       3) Glycogen

           Plants store sugar in the form of starch. Animal store sugar in the form of glycogen.                         Glycogen is stored in the liver. The liver can convert excess glycogen into lipids and fats

Please develop and submit for discussion with your mentor, a presentation demonstrating your understanding of this material. Please include how biological systems use sugar as a form of energy. What process develops simple sugar from the complex sugars consumed in our diet.




Lipids and Fats

Lipids are long chains of carbon and hydrogen and on the end a carboxylic acid as seen above. Although the term "lipid" is sometimes used as a synonym for fats, fats are a subgroup of lipids called triglycerides. 

Lipids are insoluble in water. (means they don't dissolve in water) The four basic classes of lipids are Steroids, Waxes, Fats, and Phospholipids.


Lipids chain


The two above are illustrating saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. You'll notice that the saturated fatty acid that every carbon has two hydrogens except for the terminal one which has three and the carboxylic acid. Since each carbon has all of the hydrogens that can bond with its know as a saturated fatty acid.


carboxyl group


Every lipid has a carboxyl group located on the first carbon. The carboxyl group is the c, double bonded oxygen, and hydrogen.


The other is an unsaturated fatty acid. It's easy to see that in the lower picture that two of the carbons have formed a double bond. Any time that a double bond is formed in a fatty acid it is an unsaturated fatty acid.

Saturated Fatty Acids 

As human's, we prefer to consume saturated fatty acids. Saturated fatty acids are commonly found in animal fat like lard (pig fat). Saturated fatty acids are found in things like butter, cream, and milk. Saturated fatty acids are normally solid at room temperature. Saturated fatty acids lead to health concerns like heart attack and stroke by blocking blood flow through increased plaque buildup in veins and arteries. 

Unsaturated Fatty Acids

Unsaturated fatty acids come from plants and are generally liquid (oil) at room temperatures. Things like corn oil, vegetable, and olive oil are all unsaturated fatty acids. These are used as a substitute for saturated fatty acids because of the reduced health-related issues. 

However, consumers need to be aware that many times unsaturated fatty acids are converted into saturated fatty acid through a process called hydrogenation, in other words, chemical breaking the carbon to carbon bond and replacing the bond with hydrogen. This is how margarine is made. 


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There are numerous ways of representing organic compounds, please don't be confused by the line drawing. Every place the lines come to a point that represents the location of carbon and the double lines are used to represent double bonds. 

lipid drawing

If you continue your education in the medical field you'll need to become familiar with all of the ways that organic compound are represented.

Muffa and Puffa


Please prepare and submit for discussion with your mentor a demonstration explaining why lipids are an important molecule in medical science. Hint: remember that the cell membrane is made of lipids, meaning water does not easily move across the cell membrane. 





 Proteins are made of C, H, O, and N

Proteins are made of amino acids linked together. Below is the amino acid sequence of human insulin. 




Below is the list of the amino acids.


amino aliphatic



amino acids