Carbohydrates are so named because the structural formula is typically (CH2
, where n
is an integer such as 5 (C5
), 6 (C6
), etc. Although this formula might suggest that carbon atoms are joined to water, the actual molecules are more complicated.
Like most classes of biological molecules, carbohydrates occur as both monomers and polymers. Small carbohydrates are called sugars, which commonly include monosaccharides (single sugars) and some disaccharides (two sugars linked together). Larger carbohydrates are called polysaccharides (many sugars linked together).
Functions of carbohydrates include:
• serving as molecular "tags" to allow recognition of specific cells and molecules