Aldehydes and Ketones in Living Systems

Subject: Environment
Type: Descriptive Essay
Pages: 3
Word count: 699
Topics: Nature, Biology, Chemistry

Table of Contents


Some aldehydes and ketones occurring naturally are important in living systems. Some are used as sex hormones such as testosterone and progesterone. Some ketones are responsible for energy provision in the body and used as communication in insects such as pheromones. Aldehydes are important in animal vision such as retinaldehyde and crop growth, anti-cancer and fungicide such as cinnamaldehyde.                       

Some aldehydes and ketones that are found naturally are important in living systems. According to Zumdahl (2014), aldehyde refers to an organic compound having a formyl group with structure R-CHO, while ketone is an organic compound with the structure RC (=O) R’. Aldehydes are different from ketones in that the carbonyl is found at the end of carbon Skelton and not within two carbon atoms. This paper explains why aldehydes and ketones are important in living systems giving examples of specific compounds with their significance.

Aldehydes and Ketones are important due to their functions in the human body. They occur in the human body naturally or are being produced by the processes taking place within the body. Moreover, aldehydes are considered as another type of Vitamin A. On this basis, they can play an important role in aiding the vision of human beings and animals. In the view of Winter (2014), aldehydes can help to convert light to metabolic energy, so that it can be used by some microorganisms.        

Ketones are important in the reproductive system of the human body. They exist in form of hormones such as testosterone, progesterone, and aldosterone. Testosterone is responsible for the formation of the male sexual hormone. On the other hand, progesterone is associated with ovulation, and it is always produced by an ovary. Additionally, Farmer and Reusch (2017) asserts that aldosterone is responsible for the retention of sodium ions in the kidney. Their secretion is made possible if the level of sodium is low in the blood system. Ketones are also found in the human body when breaking down of fat takes place to provide energy. It is formed to provide the energy the body needs if there is less food consumed to give the energy needed by the body (Cotter et al. 2013).                             

Aldehydes and ketones are also found naturally in plants and insects. An example is a cinnamaldehyde, which occurs naturally at the bark of cinnamon trees. Cinnamaldehyde is important because of its uses to aid other living organisms. According to Parthasarathy et al. (2008), cinnamaldehyde is used as a fungicide and is usually put to the plants’ root system, thus aid in the growth of crops. Furthermore, it is antimicrobial and important in the prevention of the growth of harmful bacteria in the body. For example, it is effective against bacteria found at the back of the tongue, with a reduction of anaerobic bacteria population by approximately 43% (Parthasarathy et al. 2008). Cinnamaldehyde is also significant as an anti-cancer agent. This was proved by Parthasarathy et al (2008),  when he managed to observe the presence of cinnamaldehyde in the cell culture. Ketones are found in insect such as pheromones. They are chemicals produced by an organism into its surroundings to allow communication with other members of the same species. They are produced by both mammals and insects in various situations like finding mates and foods, gathering to consume food resources, securing ovipositor sites and running away from predators.           

Naturally occurring aldehydes and ketones have proved significant in living systems. In animals, some of the aldehydes deemed important are retinaldehyde and cinnamaldehyde, which are important in aiding vision and as antimicrobial and anti-cancer agent respectively. They are also important in crops growth. Ketones have proved to be important in reproduction, energy provision and aiding insects’ communication.              

Did you like this sample?
  1. Cotter, D. G., Schugar, R. C., & Crawford, P. A. (2013). Ketone body metabolism and cardiovascular disease. American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology304(8), H1060.
  2. Farmer, S. and Reusch, W. (2017). Natural Occurrence of Aldehydes and Ketones. [online] Chemistry LibreTexts.
  3. Parthasarathy, V. A., Chempakam, B., & Zachariah, T. J. (2008). Chemistry of spices. Wallingford, UK: CABI Pub.
  4. Winter, A. (2014). Organic chemistry I for dummies.
  5. Zumdahl, S. S. (2014). Introductory chemistry: A foundation. New York: Cengage Learning.
Related topics
More samples
Related Essays