Are carbohydrates an essential component of human diet?

Are people able to satisfy all the needs of a healthy diet without consuming carbohydrates?

My question includes the assumption that a person has no health condition that would prevent them from meeting their caloric needs with only fat and protein.

I'm also not asking about the practicality of eliminating all carbohydrates. If a person could consume no carbohydrates whatsoever, this other question would clearly matter a lot, but I'm not asking it.

If there are essential dietary components that happen to be carbohydrates, but are not converted into glucose, I'll say up front that it wouldn't satisfy what I"m asking. However, it would be interesting footnote on an otherwise correct answer.

From a theoretical perspective this is a very interesting question, mostly because it is difficult to completely abstain from carbohydrate intake on a normal diet. Even the popular low carb diets of the late 1990s and early 2000s (e.g. Atkins Diet, South Beach Diet) were just that, they were Low Carb, Not No Carb.

We know there are essential dietary nutrients for humans, like essential fatty acids and essential amino acids. The reason that these must be obtained in the diet is because humans do not have the enzymes to synthesize these nutrients de novo (aka, "From Scratch").

From a biochemical perspective we know that fatty acids and acetyl-CoA cannot be converted back into glucose or other carbohydrate intermediates. This is because of the irreversible biochemical reaction catalyzed by pyruvate dehydrogenase, which converts pyruvate to acetyl-CoA. Thus, fatty acids (lipids) can be oxidized to acetyl-CoA (for the TCA/Krebs Cycle) but cannot be further converted to glucose within the body.

In terms of protein, however, amino acids are either glucogenic, ketogenic, or both. If amino acids are ketogenic, then this means they can be converted into acetyl-CoA for the Krebs Cycle. If amino acids are glucogenic, then it means that they can be broken down into glucose. The breakdown of amino acids can be used to synthesize glucose or for anapleurotic reactions of the Krebs Cycle.

As stated in the editorial noted in the comments of this question (From the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition), there are daily "requirements" for carbohydrates. However, it does not appear that any diseases are unmasked by very low to zero carbohydrate absorption (which is most closely occurs in the Inuit populations whose diet is entirely fat and protein).

So, if you ask the question "are carbohydrates essential components of a human diet?" the answer would be probably not. However, as mentioned above, carbohydrates are ubiquitous and it is impossible to abstain from all carbohydrate intake.

Below is a picture freely available online from this website (from Lehninger Principles of Biochemistry, 5th Edition) of the glucogenic and ketogenic amino acids and the metabolic intermediates to which they can be converted. This is how Krebs Cycle intermediates can be generated from amino acids and are not dependent on dietary carbohydrates.

The importance of carbs in human evolution – and in the Paleo diet

Writing in The Quarterly Review of Biology​, an international team of researchers bring together archaeological, anthropological, genetic, physiological and anatomical data to argue that carbohydrate consumption, particularly in the form of starch, was critical for the accelerated expansion of the human brain over the last million years, and co-evolved both with copy number variation of the salivary amylase genes and controlled fire use for cooking.

“We propose that plant foods containing high quantities of starch were essential for the evolution of the human phenotype during the Pleistocene,”​ said the team – led by Dr. Karen Hardy from the Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. “Although previous studies have highlighted a stone tool-mediated shift from primarily plant-based to primarily meat-based diets as critical in the development of the brain and other human traits, we argue that digestible carbohydrates were also necessary to accommodate the increased metabolic demands of a growing brain.”

Carbohydrate diet

Hardy and her team build a case for dietary carbohydrate being essential for the evolution of modern big-brained humans with a series of assertions, which demonstrate the importance of carbohydrates.

Firstly, the team noted that the human brain uses up to 25% of the body's energy budget and up to 60% of blood glucose. They noted that while synthesis of glucose from other sources is possible, it is not the most efficient way, and these high glucose demands are unlikely to have been met on a low carbohydrate diet.

The Role of Carbohydrate Response Element–Binding Protein in the Development of Liver Diseases

2 ChREBP, a Glucose-Activated Transcription Factor That Regulates Glucose and Lipid Metabolism

ChREBP is a glucose-activated transcription factor that regulates glucose and lipid metabolism. In the fed state, ChREBP is activated and induces de novo lipogenesis through gene transcription. In fasting, ChREBP is shut off and reduces de novo lipogenesis. The mechanism of ChREBP regulation is complicated and contradictory, 13–15 but many researchers believe that ChREBP is activated by metabolites derived from glucose and inhibited by ketone bodies, adenosine monophosphate (AMP), and cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP). 3,16–19 Candidates for glucose metabolites are xylulose-5-phosphate glucose-6-phosphate and uridine diphosphate N-acetylglucosamine (UDP-GlcNAc) through dephosphorylation, conformational change, and UDP-GlcNacylation. 20–24 In fasting, free fatty acids (FFAs) supplied from lipolysis in adipocytes are metabolized to AMP and ketone bodies. AMP and ketone bodies inhibit ChREBP through phosphorylation by adenosine monophosphate–activated protein kinase (AMPK) and conformational change of ChREBP by AMP itself. 16,18,19 Glucagon and epinephrine increase cAMP concentration, which inhibits ChREBP through phosphorylation by cAMP-dependent protein kinase. 17

Herman et al. identified two isoforms of ChREBP, ChREBP-α and ChREBP-β. 25 ChREBP-α is localized in cytosol and nuclear translocation is necessary to activate it. 25 In contrast, ChREBP-β is induced by ChREBP-α and localized mainly in the nucleus it has potency to activate gene transcription of ChREBP target genes and suppress ChREBP-α expression. 25–27 Thus, ChREBP-α and ChREBP-β serve as “sensor” and “amplifier” for glucose signaling. 15

3.2 Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates provide energy for the cell and structural support to plants, fungi, and arthropods such as insects, spiders, and crustaceans. Consisting of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen in the ratio CH2O or carbon hydrated with water, carbohydrates are classified as monosaccharides, disaccharides, and polysaccharides depending on the number of monomers in the macromolecule. Monosaccharides are linked by glycosidic bonds that form as a result of dehydration synthesis. Glucose, galactose, and fructose are common isomeric monosaccharides, whereas sucrose or table sugar is a disaccharide. Examples of polysaccharides include cellulose and starch in plants and glycogen in animals. Although storing glucose in the form of polymers like starch or glycogen makes it less accessible for metabolism, this prevents it from leaking out of cells or creating a high osmotic pressure that could cause excessive water uptake by the cell. Insects have a hard outer skeleton made of chitin, a unique nitrogen-containing polysaccharide.

Information presented and the examples highlighted in the section support concepts and Learning Objectives outlined in Big Idea 4 of the AP ® Biology Curriculum Framework. The Learning Objectives listed in the Curriculum Framework provide a transparent foundation for the AP ® Biology course, an inquiry-based laboratory experience, instructional activities, and AP ® Exam questions. A Learning Objective merges required content with one or more of the seven Science Practices.

Big Idea 4 Biological systems interact, and these systems and their interactions possess complex properties.
Enduring Understanding 4.A Interactions within biological systems lead to complex properties.
Essential Knowledge 4.A.1 The subcomponents of biological molecules and their sequence determine the properties of that molecule.
Science Practice 7.1 The student can connect phenomena and models across spatial and temporal scales.
Learning Objective 4.1 The student is able to refine representations and models to explain how the subcomponents of a biological polymer and their sequence determine the properties of that polymer.
Essential Knowledge 4.A.1 The subcomponents of biological molecules and their sequence determine the properties of that molecule.
Science Practice 1.3 The student can refine representations and models of natural or man-made phenomena and systems in the domain.
Learning Objective 4.2 The student is able to refine representations and models to explain how the subcomponents of a biological polymer and their sequence determine the properties of that polymer.
Essential Knowledge 4.A.1 The subcomponents of biological molecules and their sequence determine the properties of that molecule.
Science Practice 6.1 The student can justify claims with evidence.
Science Practice 6.4 The student can make claims and predictions about natural phenomena based on scientific theories and models.
Learning Objective 4.3 The student is able to use models to predict and justify that changes in the subcomponents of a biological polymer affect the functionality of the molecules.

The Science Practice Challenge Questions contain additional test questions for this section that will help you prepare for the AP exam. These questions address the following standards:
[APLO 4.15] [APLO 2.5]

Molecular Structures

Most people are familiar with carbohydrates, one type of macromolecule, especially when it comes to what we eat. To lose weight, some individuals adhere to “low-carb” diets. Athletes, in contrast, often “carb-load” before important competitions to ensure that they have enough energy to compete at a high level. Carbohydrates are, in fact, an essential part of our diet grains, fruits, and vegetables are all natural sources of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates provide energy to the body, particularly through glucose, a simple sugar that is a component of starch and an ingredient in many staple foods. Carbohydrates also have other important functions in humans, animals, and plants.

Carbohydrates can be represented by the stoichiometric formula (CH2O)n, where n is the number of carbons in the molecule. In other words, the ratio of carbon to hydrogen to oxygen is 1:2:1 in carbohydrate molecules. This formula also explains the origin of the term “carbohydrate”: the components are carbon (“carbo”) and the components of water (hence, “hydrate”). Carbohydrates are classified into three subtypes: monosaccharides, disaccharides, and polysaccharides.


Monosaccharides (mono- = “one” sacchar- = “sweet”) are simple sugars, the most common of which is glucose. In monosaccharides, the number of carbons usually ranges from three to seven. Most monosaccharide names end with the suffix -ose. If the sugar has an aldehyde group (the functional group with the structure R-CHO), it is known as an aldose, and if it has a ketone group (the functional group with the structure RC(=O)R'), it is known as a ketose. Depending on the number of carbons in the sugar, they also may be known as trioses (three carbons), pentoses (five carbons), and or hexoses (six carbons). See Figure 3.5 for an illustration of the monosaccharides.

The chemical formula for glucose is C6H12O6. In humans, glucose is an important source of energy. During cellular respiration, energy is released from glucose, and that energy is used to help make adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Plants synthesize glucose using carbon dioxide and water, and glucose in turn is used for energy requirements for the plant. Excess glucose is often stored as starch that is catabolized (the breakdown of larger molecules by cells) by humans and other animals that feed on plants.

Galactose (part of lactose, or milk sugar) and fructose (found in sucrose, in fruit) are other common monosaccharides. Although glucose, galactose, and fructose all have the same chemical formula (C6H12O6), they differ structurally and chemically (and are known as isomers) because of the different arrangement of functional groups around the asymmetric carbon all of these monosaccharides have more than one asymmetric carbon (Figure 3.6).

Carbohydrate Not Essential For Human Survival

There has been a debate about whether carbohydrate is essential for human survival. Some will argue that it is.

Glucose is a carbohydrate, a sugar, and the human body needs glucose to survive, so therefore it is essential. However, glucose can be obtained from protein and fat and it is not required for the body to obtain glucose from carbohydrate. Obtaining glucose from carbohydrate is usually the preferred method to obtain glucose rather than from protein or fat since it is easier, quicker and more efficient, actually a 'piece of cake.'

So therefore, glucose is essential for life since the brain cells die quickly without it, not to mention the other body cells die without glucose. However, to repeat this, it is important to understand that glucose does not have to be obtained from carbohydrate essentially. Glucose can be obtained from protein or fat by breaking down the protein or fat into glucose. Conversely it is impossible to obtain protein or fat from carbohydrate which is important to understand.

Fiber, a carbohydrate, is usually the only carbohydrate that is mentioned in literature about nutrition that is important in diet. "Not yet formally proposed as an essential macronutrient, dietary fiber is nevertheless regarded as important for the diet, with regulatory authorities in many developed countries recommending increases in fiber intake." [1] The minimum daily requirement has not been established and is widely debated in nutrition but the general consensus is that humans may need between "a minimum of 20–35 g/day for a healthy adult depending on calorie intake (e.g., a 2000 Cal/8400 kJ diet should include 25g of fiber per day). [1] While glucose can be converted from fat or protein, fiber can only be derived from carbohydrate, so therefore, fiber is the only carbohydrate that may be essential to humans. However, obtaining energy in the form of calories from soluable fiber is minimal at best [the body absorbs fewer than 4 Calories (16.7 kilojoules) per gram of fiber]. [1] Some fiber is insoludable and therefore indigestible. Since the human body does not have the necessary enzymes to break down insoluble fiber for energy (glucose), fiber is not an important source for energy (glucose) in humans.

Carbohydrate is simply molecules of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Carbo (carbon) + hydrate (water or H2O). Fairly simple, isn't it? There are absolutely no vitamins, minerals, amino acids (protein) or fat in carbohydrate, hence nothing essential for human survival. It is a common belief that plants are strictly carbohydrate, and this is where the misconception is. Yes, most plants are high in carbohydrate but they contain a great deal more than carbohydrate. Most plants are primarily made up of water and carbon but they also contain some protein, vitamins, minerals, and fat. Yes, plants usually are made up of all three food groups but primarily water and carbohydrate. For example, one cup of iceberg lettuce contains 76% carbohydrate, 16% protein, and 8% fat (not to mention some nutrients in the form of vitamins and minerals). So many conclude that carbohydrate is essential for human survival based upon their limited understanding of how we need to eat plants thinking that they are just carbohydrate, and are simply uninformed. To reiterate, plants in the form of vegetables and fruits contain all three food groups along with some essential nutrients with carbohydrate as the chief food group.

The fact is that carbohydrate is simply a wonderful perk since it is made up of different types of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen molecules that usually taste sweet. However, carbohydrate is not essential for human survival. Why is this? Our bodies are primarily made up of water, protein and fat. [12] Carbohydrate is simply used at its basic unit for energy. We burn glucose, a carbohydrate or sugar. Glucose is "the primary metabolic fuel for humans". Carbohydrate is simply different types of sugar, i.e., glucose, sucrose, fructose, lactose and the list goes on. The body converts all these different types of sugar into glucose which is the 'primary metabolic fuel for humans." Glucose is what the cells in our body use for fuel which can be obtained from carbohydrate. However, as previously mentioned, glucose does not have to be obtained from carbohydrate, as an "essential" carbohydrate, but can be obtained from either fat or protein.

While our body needs glucose for human survival, hence essential, (i.e., our brain cells begin to die without glucose in just a few minutes), we can obtain glucose by breaking either fat or protein through digestion into glucose for our energy and our brain cells. So do we actually need carbohydrate to make glucose? No. Carbohydrate is not necessary since we can convert fat and protein into glucose. However, it is way easier for the body to break carbohydrate into glucose. Piece of cake. It takes a lot more digestion to break down fat and protein into glucose, not to mention the side effects of only eating fat and protein. If we need quick energy carbohydrate is the preferred choice. But again, in terms of human survival, the bottom line is that if you were stuck on an abandoned planet or a desert island and you had to choose only two of the three food groups to eat for survival you better choose protein and fat since they are absolutely essential for human survival. Of course you would also need water, vitamins and minerals. But if you choose carbohydrate as one of the two food food groups and excluded either fat or protein you would eventually die since our bodies are made up of protein and fat. Protein and fat are essential for human survival while strictly speaking carbohydrate is not. The only carbohydrate that may be essential for human survival is fiber.

The difference between essential and non essential types of nutrition is clearly seen in this table:

Image courtesy of Click4Biology [2]

Carbohydrate (different types of sugar) is not essential for human survival, with the exception of fiber, which may be essential for human survival. Glucose, a carbohydrate, which can be obtained from protein or fat by digestion is strictly speaking the only essential carbohydrate.

The following is a quote from a widely accepted book on nutrition requirements for humans which says about the minimum requirement of carbohydrate:

"Although glucose is the most common source of energy available to cells, it is essential only in a few organs: the brain, the kidney (medulla) and the red blood cells. The adult brain requires about 140 g glucose/day and the red cells about 40 g/day. In the absence of dietary carbohydrate, the body is able to synthesize glucose from lactic acid, certain amino acids and glycerol via gluconeogenesis. Gluconeogenesis can supply about 2 mg/kg body weight per minute or 130 g/day."

While this source says "it could be said that the absolute minimum requirement for carbohydrate is about 50 g/day" it never establishes a minimum daily requirement for carbohydrate. [3]

You will be hard pressed to find a reputable source that says there are any essential sugars or carbohydrate. This is because carbohydrate contains no essential nutrient. Carbohydrate is energy, fuel. It is the preferred food to obtain energy in the form of glucose which the body uses. And I am not advocating a diet without carbohydrate. In fact I advocate a diet with complex carbohydrate but in a quantity and quality to control rosacea. Diet high in carbohydrate, particularly sugar is a rosacea trigger.

Here are some quotes to consider:

"Carbohydrates are not a requirement for survival as are proteins, essential fatty acids, vitamins, or minerals." [4]

"The major role of carbohydrates is to provide energy. Interestingly, carbohydrates are not considered essential." [5]

"For example, many amino acids can be made in the body via metabolism from other amino acids as well, glucose can be made in the body from a number of different substances. So while these nutrients are essential for life and survival, it is not essential that they be obtained from the diet…..And while the above might suggest that dietary carbohydrates are essential, this isn’t the case." [6]

"First of all, it should be understood that the human body does not have an essential need for carbohydrates in and of themselves—in other words, there are no "essential" carbohydrates, as there are essential amino acids or fatty acids." [7]

"And though they are not a dietary requirement in the way that vitamins or essential amino acids are, it is difficult to eat without ingesting some carbohydrates, which are excellent sources of quick-burning energy." [8]

"Carbohydrates are not essential nutrients but are typically an important part of the human diet." [9]

"Strictly speaking, carbohydrates are not essential in that the body is capable of making some carbohydrates. " [11]

So what does carbohydrate have to do with rosacea? Carbohydrate is a rosacea trigger.

You can live without carbohydrate contrary to popular opinion and all those who debate this subject. Carbohydrate is a wonderful gift that makes eating delightful and sweet. But too much carbohydrate, especially sugar, can trigger your rosacea. Balance is the key and eating complex carbohydrate rather than the simple carbohydrate will improve your rosacea. For more info click here.

[2] Click4Biology: Option A1 Components of the human diet.

The above researcher has shut this article down. However the wayback machine has the page in web history and the paper shown here on May 14, 2012. Too bad he closed the page down, since he should publish the paper. Here is a screenshot taken using the wayback machine:

[3] Essentials of Human Nutrition, Second Edition,
Jim Mann, A. Stewart Truswell, Editors, Part 1, Energy and macronutrients, Chapter 2, Janette Brand-Miller, 2.6.2, page 25,
Oxford University Press, 2002

[4] The Oxford Companion to Food by Alan Davidson
Oxford University Press, USA 2nd edition (October 15, 2006)

[6] A Primer on Nutrition Part 1 by Lyle McDonald
Body Recomposition

[7] Carbohydrates - Real-life applications
Science Clarified, Real-Life Physics Vol 3 - Biology Vol 1

So what exactly is included in the components of a balanced diet?


An excellent source of energy, carbohydrates should comprise roughly 60% of a person’s diet or 310 grams. This is where most of your energy comes from if you’re engaged in activity throughout the day eat lots of carb-rich food items such as rice, pasta, potatoes, and wheat.


There are so many essential vitamins today, but pay particular attention to the intake of the following: vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B, and vitamin D. Taking multivitamins for these four is ideal although obtaining them from fruits and vegetables is even better.


Minerals aid with the release of energy from food items, plus they interact with the organs to promote growth. For example, iron helps with energy, while calcium works towards bone and teeth development. Again, there are lots of minerals today, but the most important ones in your diet are: iodine, potassium, sodium, and those mentioned above.

Unsaturated fats

A lot of people avoid fat thinking that they cause weight gain, but this is far from the truth. Healthy fats, or those derived from good sources are dairy products, meat, and fish. Their main function is to help regulate body temperature, as well as the absorption of vitamins. They help with slow energy release, which is perfect for long-distance runners. Consume around 70 grams per day.


Protein comes mainly from meat, but dietary recommendations suggest that you get it mostly from lean meat sources. They primarily help with the development of skin, hair, and muscles. The maximum daily amount is set at 50 grams for a typical adult.


Fibre helps fill you up and aids with proper digestion. It is primarily concerned with keeping your cholesterol levels in check. Fibre rich food items include oatmeal, bran and also vegetables. Get around 30 grams per day.


Most lists of a balanced healthy diet consist only of 6 items, but this article gives a total of 7, adding water to the list. The fact is few people consider the importance of water in their diet. Fizzy drinks, coffee, tea, and juice drinks cannot provide the same goodness as water. It hydrates the body and facilitates the movement of all the other components above. Suggested intake is at least 8 glasses a day.

Those are the 7 components of balanced diet, dictating exactly what each meal should contain for optimal health. The good news is that there are meal recipes following the balanced healthy diet principle, which means that you don’t have to come up with your own creations.

For more on nutrition, dieting, balanced eating and maintaining a healthy weight, why not check out our courses in Nutritional Sciences? Whether for your own interests, or in a professional capacity, you can find a variety of courses and topics to choose from, on a budget to suit your needs.

Benefits of Carbohydrates

Are carbohydrates good for you? Some often tell people who wish to lose weight that carbohydrates are bad and they should avoid them. Some diets completely forbid carbohydrate consumption, claiming that a low-carbohydrate diet helps people to lose weight faster. However, carbohydrates have been an important part of the human diet for thousands of years. Artifacts from ancient civilizations show the presence of wheat, rice, and corn in our ancestors’ storage areas.

As part of a well balanced diet, we should supplement carbohydrates with proteins, vitamins, and fats. Calorie-wise, a gram of carbohydrate provides 4.3 Kcal. For comparison, fats provide 9 Kcal/g, a less desirable ratio. Carbohydrates contain soluble and insoluble elements. The insoluble part, fiber, is mostly cellulose. Fiber has many uses. It promotes regular bowel movement by adding bulk, and it regulates the blood glucose consumption rate. Fiber also helps to remove excess cholesterol from the body. Fiber binds to the cholesterol in the small intestine, then attaches to the cholesterol and prevents the cholesterol particles from entering the bloodstream. Cholesterol then exits the body via the feces. Fiber-rich diets also have a protective role in reducing the occurrence of colon cancer. In addition, a meal containing whole grains and vegetables gives a feeling of fullness. As an immediate source of energy, glucose breaks down during the cellular respiration process, which produces ATP, the cell's energy currency. Without consuming carbohydrates, we reduce the availability of “instant energy”. Eliminating carbohydrates from the diet is not the best way to lose weight. A low-calorie diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean meat, together with plenty of exercise and plenty of water, is the more sensible way to lose weight.


Protein is used by our body helps us develop and grow properly. Protein makes up our muscles, organs, skin and hair. Protein is broken down into amino acids. The body is able to make 12 amino acids but we need the remaining 8 (essential amino acids) to ensure good health. Protein is used for building, maintaining and repairing body cells and organs. They also make hormones and enzymes which regulate body functions. Antibodies are also made and other important components of the immune system.

In the UK diet, the main sources of protein are animal sources such as meat, fish, eggs and dairy foods. We also obtain important proteins from cereal products, nuts and pulses. Approximately 10-15% of our calories should come from protein. Protein contains 4 calories per gram.

Our go to vegan blend for our shakes is Form Performance Protein chocolate peanut. The ingredients are wholesome: pea, brown rice and hemp protein – and algae, which is a “fairly complete protein”. At 30g of protein per portion, and only 2g of carbs, it ticks the right boxes.

Approximately no more than 35% of our daily calories should come from fat. Fats are a great source of energy: 1g of fat provides 9 calories. Fat protects the internal organs, however, too much fat can be damaging. Fat is also a great insulator and fat stored just below the skin acts to insulate the body from the cold. Females require a minimum level of body fat in order to maintain menstrual function as fat cells secrete and are the store for oestrogen.

It is advised to limit the number of saturated fats consumed as they are strongly correlated with an increased amount of cholesterol in the blood, which in turn increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Saturated fats can be found in beef, lamb, pork, butter, cream, milk, cheeses, coconut oil, palm oil and cocoa butter. It’s important to replace saturated fat with unsaturated fat. This means eating more fish, avocados, nuts and seeds and plant-based oils and spreads such as flax seed oil and soya spread.

Our favourite healthy snacks are nuts such as walnuts.


Micronutrients are nutrients required by the body in lesser amounts, but are still essential for carrying out bodily functions. Micronutrients include all the essential minerals and vitamins. There are sixteen essential minerals and thirteen vitamins (See Table 1.1 “Minerals and Their Major Functions” and Table 1.2 “Vitamins and Their Major Functions” for a complete list and their major functions). In contrast to carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins, micronutrients are not sources of energy (calories), but they assist in the process as cofactors or components of enzymes (i.e., coenzymes). Enzymes are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions in the body and are involved in all aspects of body functions from producing energy, to digesting nutrients, to building macromolecules. Micronutrients play many essential roles in the body.

Table 1.1 Minerals and Their Major Functions

Minerals Major Functions
Sodium Fluid balance, nerve transmission, muscle contraction
Chloride Fluid balance, stomach acid production
Potassium Fluid balance, nerve transmission, muscle contraction
Calcium Bone and teeth health maintenance, nerve transmission, muscle contraction, blood clotting
Phosphorus Bone and teeth health maintenance, acid-base balance
Magnesium Protein production, nerve transmission, muscle contraction
Sulfur Protein production
Iron Carries oxygen, assists in energy production
Zinc Protein and DNA production, wound healing, growth, immune system function
Iodine Thyroid hormone production, growth, metabolism
Selenium Antioxidant
Copper Coenzyme, iron metabolism
Manganese Coenzyme
Fluoride Bone and teeth health maintenance, tooth decay prevention
Chromium Assists insulin in glucose metabolism
Molybdenum Coenzyme

Carbohydrate Chemistry, Biology and Medical Applications

The finding by Emil Fischer that glucose and fructose on treatment with phenylhydrazine gave the identical osazone led him to the elucidation of stereochemistry of carbohydrates. Since then, progress in the field of carbohydrates has been amazing with the unraveling their basic structure, biosynthesis, immunology, functions, and clinical uses, for pure carbohydrates and for protein-linked carbohydrates (glycoproteins and proteoglycans).

The chapters in Carbohydrate Chemistry, Biology and Medical Applications present a logical sequence leading from the chemistry and biochemistry of carbohydrates, followed by their role in various pathological conditions, to carbohydrates as potential therapeutic and diagnostic agents.

This book offers a detailed panoramic review of the chemistry and biology of carbohydrates for chemists, biologists and health professionals. Each chapter is authored by contributors expert in the particular area of research.

The finding by Emil Fischer that glucose and fructose on treatment with phenylhydrazine gave the identical osazone led him to the elucidation of stereochemistry of carbohydrates. Since then, progress in the field of carbohydrates has been amazing with the unraveling their basic structure, biosynthesis, immunology, functions, and clinical uses, for pure carbohydrates and for protein-linked carbohydrates (glycoproteins and proteoglycans).

The chapters in Carbohydrate Chemistry, Biology and Medical Applications present a logical sequence leading from the chemistry and biochemistry of carbohydrates, followed by their role in various pathological conditions, to carbohydrates as potential therapeutic and diagnostic agents.

This book offers a detailed panoramic review of the chemistry and biology of carbohydrates for chemists, biologists and health professionals. Each chapter is authored by contributors expert in the particular area of research.