Chemistry of Human Body

Sophomore (College 2nd year) ・Chemistry ・APA ・7 Sources

The Body and Its Elements

The body contains more than 60 elements, however its massive section has solely four of them, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and hydrogen. They are all beneficial in special ways ranging from the blood, tissues and muscles improvement as well as nutrient processes. In this essay, I shall discuss six factors among them being carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, calcium and iron.



Carbon is the fundamental constructing material of life on the planet. One of the motives as to why this is true is because of its capacity of making four bonds to the nearby atoms and can effortlessly unite with other carbon atoms and thus make it an essential building block. The process then becomes critical to the life creation of constituent such as lipids, proteins, carbohydrates and the nucleic acids such as DNA and RNA.

Carbon nanotubes can also assemble themselves and create a structure that is strong have electrical, thermal and optical properties. it is the only backbone for different molecules with the traits required for organisms. Its bonds are firm to the point of resisting environmental stresses but also weak for manipulation by enzymes in our bodies, which is a metabolism requirement. When we eat, the food is either converted into muscles or fats depending on our levels of exercise, this conversion is either breaking or forming bonds, and the energy we gain gets stored in the carbon-based molecules within our bodies, and this is a requirement for life (Simms & Zamponi, 2014, p.24).


Some of the functional groups include alcohol: it is a biomolecule containing at least one hydroxyl group (R-OH) which adds polarity to the organic molecules due to its intense nature of electronegativity of the oxygen atoms, and this makes most alcohol to dissolve in water through the formation of hydrogen bonds. Another group is the carbonyl which increases polarity and also the reactivity of organic molecules. They tend to be volatile and stimulates the human sense with either pleasant or unpleasant smell. Other groups include carboxyl, amines and the phosphate groups. When carbon burn in the air, it forms carbon dioxide (C+O2 →CO2). But when there is air restriction, it forms carbon monoxide CO (g). Again, when it reacts with water under forcing conditions, it forms CO and hydrogen H2 (C+H2O→CO+ H2). The reaction is endothermic. Carbon also reacts with halides to give carbon halides. For instance, reaction with fluoride (C+ F2 → CF4 + C2F6 + C5F12).




Hydrogen makes an approximate of 90% of all atoms and is essential in the body operations. One of the used ways is through the water which is made up of two-thirds of it. The body is made up of up to 60% of water and hydrogen helps the cells to remain hydrated; eliminate toxins and other wastes; transport nutrients lubricates the joints and supports the immune system in sending defensive cells to battle the infection-causing fungus, viruses and bacteria (Ito & Suda, 2014, p.243). It also plays a fundamental role in the energy production, for the body to function, it requires adenosine triphosphate (ATP) energy. The mitochondria of the cells receives hydrogen ion which helps in the formation of the ATP.

Water molecules pull each other; the plus side attracts the minus of the other and also that of the oxygen atom. Another example of the interactions is the weak bond that exists between the hydrogen partial positive side and a more electromagnetic atom like oxygen. Water molecules also get enticed to other ions and polar molecules. Such are called hydrophilic, and the non-polar called hydrophobic. Some of the groups of hydrogen include halogens which contain halogen bonds; hydroxyl with oxygen bonds; those containing nitrogen and also others containing sulfur. Also, some groups have phosphorous and others boron elements. Hydrogen has one electron in its outside octet. During the formation of a molecule, two atoms combine. Both of them feel the attraction of the two electrons held by each and thus forming the covalent bonds. Hydrogen has an atomic number 1, mass of 1.007825g.mol-1, negativity of 2.1 according to Pauling; density of 0.0899×10 -3 g/cm -3 at a temperature of 20 °C; the melting point should be -259.20C, boiling point -252.80c. Moreover, other properties include the ionic radius of 0.208 (-1) nm, three isotopes and 1s1 electronic shells. The bond of hydrogen can only be formed by dipole-dipole between the negative atoms and a hydrogen atom that attaches to a donor. Some of the only atoms that can form a hydrogen bond donor include fluorine and nitrogen. Here is an illustration with oxygen (2 H2 + O2 2 H2O). But an acceptor can be any atom as long as it is a polar bond, electronegative and has a lone pair with the example of carbon (C3H8+ 5 O2 3 CO2+ 4 H2O).




The human body needs nitrogen in forms of amino acids, from proteins to manufacture other amino acids that it utilizes in synthesizing. And if not used in the synthesis of protein, then they are broken into energy. Human tissues contain proteins, and the metabolic process depends on the enzymes consisting of different types of proteins (Davila, et al. 2013, p.114). Nucleic acids in the DNA and RNA also has nitrogen. Tissue repairs and cell replacements all require nitrogen for the production of new cells. It can also be used to make heme in the hemoglobin which helps in carrying oxygen in the red blood cells.

Nitrogen makes up to 80% of the atmosphere and interacts in two ways; through soil bacteria that form nitrates and through lightning. Plants take the nitrates, converts it into proteins which then ends up to the herbivores and carnivores and after excretion, it is released back to the atmosphere. Human being causes the nitrogen deposition through the burning of fuels, ranching and fertilizing of crops among others. The gas has a wide range of functional groups such as nitrate, nitrites, amides, amines, carbodiimides, enamines, hydrazine, hydrazones, imines, oximes and urea among others. Some of the characteristics of nitrogen atoms include the atomic mass of seven, the electronegativity of three according to Pauling. Moreover, the density is 1.25×10-3 g/cm-3 at the temperature of 20°C; a melting point of -2100C, the boiling point of 195.80C; the van der Waals radius of 0.092nm and ionic radius of 0.171 nm (-3). Other characteristics includes: 4 isotopes, [He] 2s22p3 electronic shell, 1402 kJ.mol -1, 2856 kJ.mol -1 and 4578 kJ.mol -1 (first, second and third ionization energy respectively) (Masa, et al. 2015, p.10102).


Covalent bonding is the sharing of electron pairs, nitrogen has five valence electrons, and thus it needs three more to complete its octet. For instance; Nitrogen reacts with some few metals to display a reducing property, for instance (6Li + N2 2Li3N) it also reacts with hydrogen at 4000C and 200 atmosphere as 3H2 + N2 2NH3. It does not react with many halogens and sulfides. Nitrogen also reacts with oxygen to give: N2O (ni¬trous ox¬ide); NO (ni¬tric ox¬ide); N2O3 (dini¬tro¬gen tri¬ox¬ide); NO2 (ni¬tro¬gen diox¬ide) and N2O5 (ni¬tro¬gen pen¬tox¬ide).





Oxygen is absorbed in the human body through the bloodstreams to the lungs, then transported to the cells where changes take place. It has a vital role in the breathing and metabolism processes of living organisms; it supports the cell respiration in all aerobic creatures. Nutrient compounds usually get through enzymatic operations, and this oxidation becomes a source of energy for many animals especially mammals. The heat is then kept as adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in the mitochondria transport chain and also in cytoplasm and glycolysis. Oxygen interacts with plants; it is produced at daytime when making food and consumed at night (Prabhakar & Peers, 2014, p. 49). The results after consumption are the releases of carbon (IV) oxide. Oxygen molecules break to form two ions that then combine with other oxygen molecules to create the ozone; made up of three atoms. We find it in functional groups such as alcohols (with (R-OH)), amines (contains amino groups (R-NH2)), carbonyls and carboxyls (with carboxyl groups (R-COOH)) and phosphates (with (R-PO42–)). In the outermost shell, oxygen has six electrons, and thus it requires two to complete the octet. One atom then combines with another lacking the two electrons and therefore forms the covalent bond as shown in the figure below.

The atom has an electronegativity of 3.5 according to Pauling and a density of 1.429 kg/m3 at a temperature of 20°C, melting of -2190C and boiling point of -1830C. It also has vanderwaals radius of 0.074nm, ionic radius of 0.14nm (-2), 4 isotopes and the electronic shell ([He] 2s 2 2p 4) (Singer, 2014, p.66). Oxygen reacts with non-metals to form oxides, for example with nitrogen to give: N2O (nitrous ox¬ide); NO (ni¬tric ox¬ide); N2O3 (dini¬tro¬gen tri¬ox-ide); NO2 (ni¬tro¬gen diox¬ide) and N2O5 (ni¬tro¬gen pen¬tox¬ide). It also reacts with metals to give metal oxides, for instance with magnesium. (Mg+O2 MgO). Reacts with hydrogen to form water H2O.


Calcium and Iron


Calcium is vital for the blood clotting, stabilizing the pressure and contributes to the normal function of the brain. It also helps in building bones and muscle contractions. Iron is also an essential factor of hemoglobin, and without it, it would be difficult to carry oxygen to the cells (Abbaspour, et. al. 2014, p.164). Anemia is the problem of iron deficiency with characteristics of overall poor health. Iron also regulates the growth and developments of cells, maintain a healthy immune system and promote a better brain function. The melting and boiling points of calcium are 850°C and 1,440°C respectively and density of 1.54 g/cm3.

Most of the reactions of iron and Calcium follow the same trend, for example; they react with oxygen to form oxides (Fe2O3 and CaO); with water (Ca+ 2H2O → Ca(OH)2 + H2); halogens to form fluoride with example of fluorine (Ca + F2 → CaF2 and reaction with acid (Ca + 2HCl → Ca2+ 2Cl- + H2). Calcium has six isotopes (40, 42, 43, 44, 46, and 48) and has compounds such as limestone and slag and iron has four isotopes (54, 56, 57 and 58). These two elements do not make bond covalently but have an ionic one. Calcium has an electron configuration of 1s22s22p63s23p64s2 and iron 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 4s2 3d6. As seen above, elements are beneficial and vital for the human survival, and thus people should ensure they consume them in large quantities; they increase the overall health of human and other organisms. Different elements have different properties and roles as seen.



Abbaspour, N., Hurrell, R. and Kelishadi, R., 2014. Review on iron and its importance for human health. Journal of research in medical sciences: the official journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, 19(2), p.164.
Davila, A.M., Blachier, F., Gotteland, M., Andriamihaja, M., Benetti, P.H., Sanz, Y. and Tomé, D., 2013. Re-print of “Intestinal luminal nitrogen metabolism: Role of the gut microbiota and consequences for the host”. Pharmacological research, 69(1), pp.114-126.
Ito, K. and Suda, T., 2014. Metabolic requirements for the maintenance of self-renewing stem cells. Nature reviews Molecular cell biology, 15(4), pp.243-256.
Prabhakar, N.R. and Peers, C., 2014. Gasotransmitter regulation of ion channels: a key step in O2 sensing by the carotid body. Physiology, 29(1), pp.49-57.
Masa, J., Xia, W., Muhler, M. and Schuhmann, W., 2015. On the Role of Metals in Nitrogen‐Doped Carbon Electrocatalysts for Oxygen Reduction. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 54(35), pp.10102-10120.
Simms, B.A. and Zamponi, G.W., 2014. Neuronal voltage-gated calcium channels: structure, function, and dysfunction. Neuron, 82(1), pp.24-45.
Singer, M., 2014. The role of mitochondrial dysfunction in sepsis-induced multi-organ failure. Virulence, 5(1), pp.66-72.

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