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What are Polysaccharides?

Aug 17, 2007
Polysaccharides are a form of carbohydrates. This is a complex form. Monosaccharides join together and create the polysaccharides. Glycosidic bonds are the binding force between the monosaccharides.

Polysaccharides have distinctive features. As it is made of monosaccharides, so they are very big in size. They are also branched. They are generally insoluble in water, not sweet and are amorphous.

Polysaccharides may be homopolysaccharides and heteroploysaccharides. When the monosaccharides that constitute the polysaccharide, are of same type, then it is called as homopolysaccharide and when they are different the resulting polysaccharide is called as heteropolysaccharide.

A general formula that denotes Polysaccharide is Cn (H2O)n where it may be 200 to 2500. Generally 10 or more monosaccharides make a polysaccharide. Polysaccharides are carbohydrates which have high molecular weight. They break down to monosaccharides when hydrolysis happens.

There is a specific type of polysaccharide present, known as acidic polysaccharide, which has in it carboxyl groups, phosphate group, and sulfuric aster groups.

Polysaccharides can be branched or it may be linear. Polysaccharides may be of two types if divided based on their function. Some polysaccharides store energy. Some other polysaccharides build the cells by helping the structural components.

Some of the well known polysaccharides are starch, glycogen, cellulose, chitin etc. Starch, glycogen, and cellulose are the three most common polysaccharides. Glucose units make up Starch. Starch is insoluble in water. Glycogen is found in animals. It is storage from of glucose. Cellulose is found in plants. They make up most of the plant parts. Some polysaccharides are available in bacteria which make their capsule.

In animals and plants, the energy storages are different. In animals, starch is the polysaccharide that stores energy. Also, glycogen stores the energy in animals. Starch is a homopolysaccharide. Starch is found in two different forms. One is amylopectin and the other is a-amylose. Amylopectin consist of a-glucose. A- Amylose consists of glucose. It is a linear chain polymer. Both of these are broken down by amylase enzyme.

Glycogen is another polysaccharide that is found in the animals. It is mostly available in the liver and the skeletal muscle. This is the energy storage for them. It is made of a-glucose. It has more non-reducing ends than the amylopectin. Glycogen is to be broken down for use which is done by glycogen phosphorylase.

In case of structural polysaccharides, cellulose and chitin is the main. Cellulose makes up the plant cell wall. It is said to be the most abundant natural polymer. It is available in the wood and cotton. It is a linear polysaccharide. It is composed of glucose. It has so much of strength because of the inverted glucose molecule and the hydrogen bonds that is formed by the individual cellulose strand. Most of the animals are not able to digest cellulose because of the absence of cellulose degrading enzymes.

Chitin consists of N-acetylglucosamine. It makes up exoskeletons of insects, spiders etc. It also makes the cell wall of fungi. It is the second most abundant polysaccharide.

Polysaccharides are very important for your body. They are made available to your body through the food that you eat.
About the Author
Zach Thompson is a Polysaccharide
Representative. His clients range from actresses to pro athletes. You can get a free Glyconutrients consultation by visiting the site.
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