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What are the Polymers of Carbohydrates?

In our daily life, we used numerous sorts of synthetic polymers like plastic. However, besides these man-made polymers, there are also a wide number of biological and natural polymeric substances. One of the most common and widest classes of those natural polymers is carbohydrate polymer.

If you don't know then the polymer is a bulky and huge substance that is made up of building blocks called monomers. We can also say that when two or more monomers associate together, the resulting product is called the polymer.

From here, you can predict the definition of carbohydrate polymers. The polymers wherein molecules of carbohydrate act as building blocks or monomers and when two or more carbohydrates bind together, they form carbohydrate polymers.

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What is the Polymer of Carbohydrates?

Just as several ethylene monomers bind together to form polyethene, from the polymer of carbohydrates, we refer to the substance formed by the joining of several carbohydrate molecules. There are so many different types of carbohydrate polymers based on their role in human body functioning such as protective carbohydrate polymers, structural carbohydrate polymers, reverse carbohydrate polymers, etc.

Similarly, we also classified the carbohydrate polymers based on the number of monomers it contains. For example, the polymer having two carbohydrate molecules is called a disaccharide, the polymer having hundreds of carbohydrate molecules is called a polysaccharide.

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Carbohydrates Polymer Examples

As stated before, based on the number of monomers and their role in the human body, several types of carbohydrate polymers exist in nature. The most common carbohydrates polymer examples which, almost all of us must be aware of, are starch, cellulose, chitin, hyaluronic acid, dextrins, cyclodextrins, chitosan, xanthan, etc.

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What are the applications of carbohydrates?

The applications of carbohydrates are countless, especially when we talk about carbohydrates in the form of polymers. For example, the biochemical polysaccharide is the most basic part of human metabolism.

Similarly, the cellulose present inside the cell wall of plants helps as a protective coating that resists harmful agents and limits water loss. In our body, carbohydrate polymers, in the form of starch, act as an energy reservoir that is consumed during strenuous activities.

On the other hand, glucose, which is also a carbohydrate polymer, is the cell's energy currency that provides the driving force to run the entire metabolism. Speaking of industrial aspects, carbohydrate polymers have so many industrial applications as well like in the manufacturing of paper, textile, wood, food, adhesives, oil, and medicines.

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How are Polymers of Carbohydrates Formed?

Mostly, simple carbohydrate polymers are formed when a single type of monomers join together via a covalent bond. During this covalent bond formation, even a water molecule is produced as a byproduct. That's why this type of polymer synthesis is called dehydration synthesis.

Some scientists also described this reaction as a condensation reaction since herein, two small units also combine or condense together to form a bulky molecule, by releasing a water molecule. The reverse of this dehydration synthesis reaction is called hydrolysis wherein a large molecule is broken down into two smaller ones, adding a water molecule to the system.

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What are the Polymers of Carbohydrates and Monomers?

By now, you have become completely aware of the polymers of carbohydrates - a huge substance that is made up of binding of many small units (monomers). These polymers could either be structural or functional like cellulose and starch, respectively.

However, the monomers (building blocks) of carbohydrates are monosaccharides. The simplest and basic monosaccharides are glucose. Thus, when more and more glucose molecules bind together in chains or rings, they form carbohydrate polymers like starch, glycerol, fatty acids, etc.

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