Which carbon compounds are contained in food

carbonChemical elementsCarbon is a chemical element and one of the most important building blocks of life on earth. It occurs naturally in all living things, in graphite, diamond, oil, natural gas and coal. Carbon forms numerous bonds with itself and with other atoms and is contained in almost all active pharmaceutical ingredients.

synonymous: C, carbon, carboneum


Carbon is of outstanding importance in pharmacy because it is contained in the majority of active pharmaceutical ingredients.

Activated charcoal, which is available in pharmacies and drugstores among other things as a pure substance, as a suspension or in the form of capsules, consists mainly of the element.

Structure and properties

Carbon (C, atomic number 6) is a chemical element and a non-metal with four valence electrons.

It occurs naturally in various crystal modifications. Graphite is a soft, gray-black solid made up of flat hexagonal layers of carbon. This structure explains its use for the lead of pencils.

Diamonds, on the other hand, are semi-transparent to transparent and extremely hard crystals in which each carbon atom is connected to four others. Natural diamonds were formed hundreds of kilometers underground under high pressure and temperature.

Amorphous carbon has no ordered crystal structure and occurs in soot and coal. Soot is created, for example, when wood is incompletely burned in a stove. In addition to pure carbon, coal also contains organic carbon compounds and other elements.

Carbon is also contained in sedimentary rocks such as limestone, marble and dolomite (carbonates).

Carbon is one of the central elements that make up all living things on earth. After oxygen, it is the second most abundant element in the human body and a component of nucleic acids (RNA, DNA), amino acids, proteins, carbohydrates and lipids.

It is characterized by its binding affinity to other carbon atoms and many other elements, which creates countless compounds. Typical binding partners are, for example, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, halogens and sulfur. Carbon can form single bonds, double bonds, and triple bonds, form chains, branched chains and rings, and even salts like calcium carbide.

Carbon is the most important energy source, for example in the form of hydrocarbons (CxHx) in petroleum and also in the human body. When organic matter is burned, carbon dioxide (carbon dioxide) is produced. Using the example of methane:

Even diamonds can be burned under the action of oxygen and heat. Carbon dioxide is also produced when carbonates and hydrogen carbonates come into contact with acids and when energy is generated in the human body.

application areas

Carbon is the basic building block of all organic compounds and as such is contained in the majority of active pharmaceutical ingredients.

Adverse effects (selection)

The combustion product carbon dioxide is responsible for the global greenhouse effect and global warming, which is expected to lead to dramatic changes on earth in the future. Plastics made from petroleum such as polyethylene and polypropylene pollute the environment because they take a long time to break down naturally. And fine dust, which is formed during incomplete combustion, for example, can trigger lung diseases.

see also

Activated carbon, alkanes

  • Medicinal product information (CH)
  • Chemistry textbooks
  • European Pharmacopoeia PhEur
  • Manufacturer information
  • Encyclopedias of food technology
  • Pharmacy Lexicons
  • Leaflets

Conflicts of Interest: None / Independent. The author has no relationships with the manufacturers and is not involved in the sale of the products mentioned.

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This article was last changed on 11/12/2020.
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