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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Compare and contrast inorganic and organic compounds
  • Identify the properties of water that make it essential to life
  • Explain the role of salts in body functioning
  • Distinguish between acids and bases, and explain their role in pH
  • Discuss the role of buffers in helping the body maintain pH homeostasis

The concepts you have learned so far in this chapter govern all forms of matter, and would work as a foundation for geology as well as biology. This section of the chapter narrows the focus to the chemistry of human life; that is, the compounds important for the body’s structure and function. In general, these compounds are either inorganic or organic.

  • An inorganic compound    is a substance that does not contain both carbon and hydrogen. A great many inorganic compounds do contain hydrogen atoms, such as water (H 2 O) and the hydrochloric acid (HCl) produced by your stomach. In contrast, only a handful of inorganic compounds contain carbon atoms. Carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) is one of the few examples.
  • An organic compound    , then, is a substance that contains both carbon and hydrogen. Organic compounds are synthesized via covalent bonds within living organisms, including the human body. Recall that carbon and hydrogen are the second and third most abundant elements in your body. You will soon discover how these two elements combine in the foods you eat, in the compounds that make up your body structure, and in the chemicals that fuel your functioning.

The following section examines the three groups of inorganic compounds essential to life: water, salts, acids, and bases. Organic compounds are covered later in the chapter.

Water

As much as 70 percent of an adult’s body weight is water. This water is contained both within the cells and between the cells that make up tissues and organs. Its several roles make water indispensable to human functioning.

Water as a lubricant and cushion

Water is a major component of many of the body’s lubricating fluids. Just as oil lubricates the hinge on a door, water in synovial fluid lubricates the actions of body joints, and water in pleural fluid helps the lungs expand and recoil with breathing. Watery fluids help keep food flowing through the digestive tract, and ensure that the movement of adjacent abdominal organs is friction free.

Water also protects cells and organs from physical trauma, cushioning the brain within the skull, for example, and protecting the delicate nerve tissue of the eyes. Water cushions a developing fetus in the mother’s womb as well.

Water as a heat sink

A heat sink is a substance or object that absorbs and dissipates heat but does not experience a corresponding increase in temperature. In the body, water absorbs the heat generated by chemical reactions without greatly increasing in temperature. Moreover, when the environmental temperature soars, the water stored in the body helps keep the body cool. This cooling effect happens as warm blood from the body’s core flows to the blood vessels just under the skin and is transferred to the environment. At the same time, sweat glands release warm water in sweat. As the water evaporates into the air, it carries away heat, and then the cooler blood from the periphery circulates back to the body core.

Questions & Answers

all of the following substance move in in and out of cell except
Mohd Reply
all of the following substance move in and out of cells except
Mohd
Which signaling molecule is most likely responsible for an increase in digestive activity?
Tonya Reply
Hi I think it is DNA
libim
Homeostatasis return to the body to a healthy state after a stressful stimuli by producing
Ofosu Reply
There are some people suffering serious injured what will we do in doing X-ray?
Jefford Reply
observe bone arrangements n associated structures like soft tissues muscles in general the radiographical changes
Terry
epithelial tissue lines blood vessels
Laura Reply
what is difference between anabolism and catabolism in simple language
Chinaza Reply
anabolism simply means building up while catabolism breaking down
Maaruf
building up and breaking down
odeh
explain respiratory centers
Tharshana Reply
which enzyme help in excretion of bile
Sakshi Reply
how conversion of Beta-carotiene into vitamin-A takes place
Sakshi
best reference books for anatomy pls suggest that
Sakshi
what is gross anatomy
Saroj Reply
The study of large structure of the body
Mablean
macroscopic anatomy (Gross anatomy)
odeh
manipulation of structures without aid of microscope due to their size
libim
what is scrotum
Dakshit Reply
a bag of skin near the penis which contains the testicles
Mablean
hi
Sardar
its me Sardar from kpk pakistan
Sardar
Why are you on my digits
Mablean
hi
Kryme
it is part if male organ that hold testis in position it also regulates temperature
libim
how does it work?
Uriah Reply
I want to know the fertilization process in human
Nana Reply
Which plane divides the body into right and left parts
Kaeze
sagittal plane
Irvin
Thank you
Kaeze
Homestatic regulations usually involves a (n) _ that detects a particular stimulus, and a(n) _that respond to the stimulus by communicating with a (n) _whose activity has an effect on the same stimulus.
Kaeze
A cell is producing proteins to be transported out of that cell. They will be processed on ribosomes that are
Kaeze
what are diseases in the bood
Azoyenime Reply
Haemophilia
Aliyu
right hypochondriac rision how meain word
Ganesh Reply
Diabetes insipidus or diabetes mellitus would most likely be indicated by ________.
Ganesh
oral cavity how miean
Ganesh Reply
oral cavity how mean what
Suresh
seems to me every one is here a doctor and worse part is that even they donot know what to ask.
Muhammad
they know what to ask the problem is how to ask it.too much broken english.
George
dear George ongeche I think if they ask these kind questions and telling themselves as HCPs or medical student's .these are the basic ones go ask something more interesting .
Muhammad

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Source:  OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 04, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11496/1.8
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