The Major Importance of Hydrogen in Living Organisms

Written by russell huebsch
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The Major Importance of Hydrogen in Living Organisms
Hydrogen bonds. (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Masakazu "Matto" Matsumoto)

Hydrogen helps form many of the building blocks that allow life on earth to exist. Understanding the importance of hydrogen gives you an appreciation for how this simple element sustains and continues to change life.

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History

Hydrogen has been around since the creation of the universe. However, mankind did not discover its existence until British chemist Henry Cavendish finally isolated it in 1766, according to the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Types

Hydrogen has a direct and indirect vital importance to living organisms. Hydrogen forms H2O, commonly known as water. Also, the Sun uses hydrogen in reactions to give off energy that plants use for growth, which also serve as a food source.

Features

Hydrogen is lighter than air, and thus air cannot "trap" hydrogen gas in the atmosphere. This explains why hydrogen only exists as part of compounds on earth, usually with vital carbon or oxygen molecules in living creatures.

Significance

Humans can live a few weeks without sustenance, but only a few days without water, and thereby, hydrogen. Hydrogen that bonds with carbon forms our bones. Hydrogen and chloride form stomach acid, which digests our food, according to the Mineral Information Institute.

Fun Fact

Hydrogen accounts for about 10 per cent of the weight of humans and animals, according to "Elements in Living Things" by the New Mexico Institute of Technology.

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