Why do we need to breathe oxygen?
(Lansing State Journal, January 31, 1996)



In order for humans to survive, our bodies have figured out various ways to extract energy from out surroundings.

One of the ways is with food, which provides out cells with raw materials to make, repair and replace out cells as needed.

A different kind of energy we need is that which allows us to make use of these raw materials.  The body has figured out a way to extract this from oxygen.  When you inhale, the oxygen in the air is absorbed into your bloodstream through tiny sacs in your lungs, called alveoli.

As soon as the oxygen enters your blood, a passing protein molecule called hemoglobin picks it up.  Each molecule of hemoglobin can transport four molecules of oxygen to almost anywhere in the body.

The hemoglobin transport the oxygen to your cells where another protein, called cytochrome C oxidase makes two molecules of water out of every molecules of oxygen delivered to it.

If you think about it, water is plentiful on earth.  This tells us that if you have the individuals ingredients for water around each other, chances are water will be made.  When this happens, there is a little bit of energy released.  This protein cytochrome C oxidase, mixes the ingredients for water and harvests the released energy.  The cells then use the energy to perform the everyday functions that your body needs.


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