What Are the Four Macromolecules of Life?


A macromolecule is a large molecule created by a form of polymerization, or the process of creating polymer chains out of polymeric materials. Each molecule, which makes up most of the body, contains these essential polymeric materials. There are four fundamental types of macromolecules, which are essential for living.


  • Carbohydrates are one of the essential macromolecules for living. A carbohydrate is an organic compound, which consists of the atoms of oxygen, carbon and hydrogen. The most important carbohydrates to humans are a group of glucose, or sugar, carbohydrates called monosaccharides. These simple sugars are the fundamental units of biologically important carbohydrates essential for storing short-term and intermediate-term energy. Consume healthy, complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits, beans and vegetables.

Nucleic Acids

  • Nucleic acids are another of the essential macromolecules for living. These acids are biological molecules, which include deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, and ribonucleic acid, or RNA. DNA contains the genetic instructions used for the functioning and development of all known living organisms and for long-term genetic information storage. RNA is important for converting a living organism's genetic information from DNA into proteins.


  • Lipids are essential macromolecules of life. Lipids are a large group of naturally occurring molecules, including fat-soluble vitamins, fats, sterols and waxes. A main function of lipids is energy storage. Each type of lipid is energy rich due to its large number of carbon-hydrogen bonds. Lipids can also store large numbers of calories in a small space. They are typically water-insoluble and are stored in the body's cell in various ways. Lipids are essential for cell structure and regulating a person's hormones and metabolism.


  • Proteins are also macromolecules essential for life. They are complex organic compounds composed of amino acid polymers. Proteins are essential for building and maintaining the tissue and muscle in the body. After consuming protein, the body uses the enzymes in the stomach to digest and break down the protein into amino acids. The amino acids then produce additional protein and maintain the body's bones, blood, organs and muscles. Proteins also function as structural units in the body's cells. This affects a person's memory, hormones, movements and metabolism. Healthful proteins to consume are found in lean meats, eggs, seeds, legumes, nuts and lentils.


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