How Do People Get Nitrogen Into Their Bodies?

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People need nitrogen in order to build complex organic molecules, and nitrogen is most often found as a gas in the atmosphere. Find out why humans rely on plants to get nitrogen with help from a science teacher and field biologist in this free video on chemistry.

Part of the Video Series: Chemistry & Biology
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Brian with Today we're going to discuss how humans get nitrogen. Essentially, this question is important because humans need nitrogen in order to build a lot of the complex organic molecules that make up their bodies. Things like DNA and RNA, Amino Acids, and in turn proteins, as well, all depend on nitrogen as a building block. So, unfortunately, humans can't process nitrogen in the form it's most abundant. Nitrogen is most often found as a gas in the atmosphere. Matter of fact, it's about seventy-nine percent of the atmosphere. So, since we can't process it ourselves in that form, we have to rely on other organisms to do it for us. What this means is, it actually gets broken down by bacteria, it then gets taken up in the form ammonium and nitrates by plants. So then humans, and all other heliotropes, which means organisms that can't produce their own energy, they then rely on plants to get the nitrogen. So they eat them, and in turn break down the molecules, and now they have nitrogen available for their own use. This has been a discussion on how humans and other animals get nitrogen.


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