Functions of Carbohydrate

Functions of Carbohydrate

All animals derive the major portion of their food calories from the different types of Carbohydrates in their diets. Most of the energy for the metabolic activities of the cell in all organisms is derived from the oxidation of Carbohydrate. Important functions of Carbohydrate are that of storing food, acting as a framework in body, performs are listed below.

Carbohydrate functions as Bio Fuel

Carbohydrate functions as an energy source of the body and acts as Bio fuel.Step wise details for the process of production of energy are discussed below.

  • Polysaccharides such as starch and glycogen are first hydrolyzed by enzymes to Glucose.
  • Glucose is the transported from one cell to another by blood in case of animals and cell sap in case of plants.
  • Glucose is then oxidized to produce carbon dioxide and water.
  • Energy is released in this process which is used for functioning of the cells.

Carbohydrate functions as Primary Source of Energy

The process of production of energy by carbohydrates is described in above steps. Now it is important to note, that fats and proteins can also be burned to provide energy but carbohydrate functions as primary source of energy. Fats are only burned if there is non availability of carbohydrates. When fat is burned in absence of carbohydrates, toxic compounds like called ketone bodies are produced. Accumulation of these ketone bodies over long period causes a condition called Ketosis. In this condition blood becomes unable to carry oxygen properly and this can be fatal. Thus, one of important function of carbohydrate is help burn fat properly.

Carbohydrate functions as storage food

Different forms of Carbohydrate are stored in living organism as storage food.

  • Polysaccharide starch acts as storage food for plants.
  • Glycogen stored in liver and muscles acts as storage food for animals.
  • Inulin acts as storage food of dahlias, onion and garlic.

Thus carbohydrate performs the function of storing food.

Carbohydrate functions as framework in body

Different Carbohydrates especially Polysaccharides act as framework in living organism.

  • Cellulose forms cell wall of plant cell along with hemicelluloses and Pectin
  • Chitin   forms cell wall of fungal cell and exoskeleton of arthropods
  • Peptidoglycan forms cell wall of bacteria and cyanobacteria.

Thus carbohydrates function as contributing material to the cellular structure.

Carbohydrate functions as Anticoagulant

Heparin is a polysaccharide (carbohydrate) which acts as anticoagulant and prevents intravascular clotting.

Carbohydrate functions as Antigen

Many antigens are glycoprotein (which contains oligosaccharide) in nature and give immunological properties to the blood.

Carbohydrate functions as Hormone

Many Hormones like FSH (Follicular Stimulating Hormone which takes part in ovulation in females) and LH (Leutinizing Hormone) are glycoprotein and help in reproductive processes.

Carbohydrates provide raw material for industry

Carbohydrates are an important component of many industries like textile, paper, lacquers and breweries.

Other Functions

Agar is polysaccharide used in culture media, laxative and food.

Cellulose acts as roughage of food. It stimulates peristalsis movement and secretion of digestive enzymes.

Hyaluronic acid found in between joints acts as synovial fluid and provides frictionless movement.