What is a biomolecule?

Biomolecules are essentially all of the chemicals in living things and can be broken down into six main types. These biomolecules are DNA, RNA, carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and complex biomolecules like nucleic acids or proteins. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at these different types of biomolecules and how they play an important role in our bodies.

Biomolecules are everywhere

They’re in your food, they’re in your body, and they’re in your cells. These molecules are called that because they are made up of organic (carbon-containing) compounds. The word biomolecule comes from Greek roots which mean life + molecule. A molecule can be anything at all, but for something to be a biomolecule, it has to have biological importance.

types of biomolecules

Carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids are the four types of biomolecules. Proteins are made up of long chains of amino acids that are formed into different shapes depending on their function. Carbohydrates are molecules containing carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, or CHOH. Nucleic acids are comprised of phosphates, sugars and nitrogen-containing bases which bind together to form DNA.

Proteins are polymers of amino acids

Amino acids are molecules that are joined together in chains to form proteins. These chains, called polypeptides, have a specific three-dimensional shape.

DNA and RNA are polymers made up of nucleotides

nucleic acids are therefore biomolecules. Each nucleotide contains sugar, an acid, and one or more bases. DNA uses deoxyribose as its sugar and adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine as its bases; RNA uses ribose as its sugar and uracil (in place of thymine) as one of its bases.

Lipids include fats, waxes, sterols, and fat-soluble vitamins

Lipids are any of a class of organic molecules that includes fats, waxes, sterols, and fat-soluble vitamins. Lipids play essential roles in cell structure and function and include important biochemical intermediates such as fatty acids and lipoproteins. There are four major types of lipids: phospholipids, glycolipids, sphingolipids (or glycosphingolipids), and steroids.

Carbohydrates store energy as well as form our structural cells

A class of molecules made of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. They are often referred to as saccharides and are broken down into monosaccharides, or simple sugars. These combine with other simple sugars in food to create complex carbs. Carbohydrates take many forms and can be divided into two groups: starches (long chains of sugar) and sugars (single units). Simple carbohydrates consist only of a single sugar unit bonded together.

Nucleic acids make up DNA and RNA

A nucleic acid is any one of several types of large molecules found in all living cells that contain genetic information. In modern biology, these compounds are often referred to as The Big Three: DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), RNA (ribonucleic acid), and protein. There are additional important small molecules called nucleotides, which are also vital to life. All cellular life forms use one or more of these four chemicals.