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A Moment of Science

Are You Chemically Dependent?

Have you ever wondered whether or not humans are chemically dependent? We humans are dependent on chemicals like water, air, sugars, starches, fats, proteins, as well as on small amounts of vitamins and minerals.

We need water, or H2O, to maintain our bodies in a fluid state. Water even gets involved in chemical reactions that occur in our stomachs, which break down foods containing sugars, starches, and proteins.

Air contains oxygen which has the chemical formula O2. Our cells use oxygen to convert sugars to carbon dioxide and water, generating energy in the process. We store this energy in the form of a chemical called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. Every day our bodies make more than 50 pounds of ATP, which is then used to carry out the chemical reactions necessary for life.

Vitamins are important chemicals which assist ATP in doing its job. For example, vitamin B6 assists in converting chemicals in order to produce muscle tissue. Vitamin K helps blood to clot when the skin is exposed to air, thus helping to repair wounds. Other chemicals are necessary to send messages between organs in the body. These compounds, are called hormones.

So, because of the negative connotations in current jargon, it might sound odd to say we are “chemically dependent”, but we are. In fact, many of the chemicals are manufactured in our own bodies.

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