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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

mention two processes of bone formation
Ngopiro Reply
what is the process for the bone formation
Ngopiro
what are the importance of studying anatomy and physiology?
Justine Reply
what are the importance of studying anatomy and physiology?
Justine Reply
bones and structures
Nkechi Reply
good morning
Cb
I wand anatomy notes 1st year
Cb
it's called going to class and taking notes
fyn sir
patrick
lmfao slay thank you for making my day lol
Bianca
heloo
King
I felt sleepy when I go for study immediately, how can I change
Abdi
what are the Hodgkin's disease
Mwasiti Reply
what are the components of cardiovascular system
Mwasiti Reply
Heart Blood Blood Vessel
Md
what are the components of the bone
Ngopiro
what is Hodgkin's disease
Mwasiti Reply
What is anatomy
Munira Reply
anatomy is a study of physical and structural functions of human body parts
Mohd
is the study of structure of the body and physical relationship involve between the body system
Mwasiti
is the study of structure of the body and physical relationship involve between the body system
Mwasiti
why simple columnar support peristalisis
Camilius Reply
why when sex of an individual is determined by y chromosome found in male therefore why there is many women than male
pamfili Reply
I'm not sure if I fully understand your question.
are you sure it is more
samir
i don't remember what I said.
I'm not sure if I fully understand your question.
roughly taking a lead.
samir
Muscle of mastication
JIMOH Reply
what is anatomy
Akanle
Sorry....it's the study of human body and it's functions.
Irene
Anatomy is the study of human organs
Kity
what is serum protein?
Salum
what is anatomy
Akanle
Anatomy is the study of human organs
Kity
Who is a bovin
Kity
Who is a bovin
Kity
Why do you ask tough questions I'm in JHS 3
Kity
pls does broken bones get healed
Desmond
yes
Belinda
how
Desmond
by surgery or medication
Desmond
Medication
Irene
why do a bovin not menstruate unlike women?
patrick
Why do you ask tough questions I'm in JHS 3
Kity
Anatomy is the study of structure of the human body
Belinda
yes
Belinda
medication
Belinda
yes
Belinda
animals within that group include cows as well as others.
ihope that was helpful
aaa,kity.bovin is a terminology used by veteranians to refer a cow.for dogs its carnine,cats it's ferline...etc
patrick
i believe if you look up the classification of Bovin , it tell clarify more for you.
ihope that was helpful
i don't think my first message about taxonomy sent
i don't think my first message about taxonomy sent
difference between seminiferous tubules and ejaculatory duct
Muhammad Reply
tell me the answer boss
Musibi
wats dis group
Kity
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Agemo Reply
what is azygous vein
Karan Reply
Sir muscle contraction ka topic kis part m milega
sonugora Reply

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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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