Paediatric 12 Hour First Aid Level 3 (VTQ) - Online Blended Part 1

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Why is Glucose So Important?

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Blood sugar levels actually refer to the level of a particular sugar in the bloodstream. This sugar is one of the most common and is called glucose. It has the chemical formula C6H12O6, and there are actually two different forms of it, Alpha Glucose and Beta Glucose. Glucose is required for proper function, as it’s the main reactant in the process called Aerobic Respiration, the other key component of which is oxygen. New supplies of it are constantly needed, which is why we breathe every few seconds, to regenerate this supply.

Respiration is one of the 7 key characteristics of life, and without it, life as we know it would not be possible. To remember the 7 characteristics of life, the pneumonic MRS GREN can be used. So, Movement, Respiration, Sensitivity, Growth, Reproduction, Excretion and Nutrition. At least 4 of these are related to glucose uptake and use, and therefore diabetes. Within the process of aerobic respiration, there are four main stages. In order, these are Glycolysis, the Link Reaction, the Krebs Cycle, and finally oxidative phosphorylation. There is another type of respiration, called anaerobic respiration, but which is when oxygen is not present.

Other reactants can be used, such as fats and proteins, however glucose is the most common start reactant in aerobic respiration. This is due to it not producing harmful products, and is the same in the majority of living organisms, including animals, plants and bacteria. The main products of Aerobic Respiration are Carbon Dioxide and Water. However, the entire process also forms lots of molecules of ATP. This is a very unstable molecule, and is the source of energy for lots of different functions in the body. Due to the instability of ATP, the process needs to take place constantly. One molecule of glucose makes 38 molecules of ATP during aerobic respiration, so it is a very efficient process. Anaerobic respiration, which takes place when oxygen is not present, only produces 2 molecules of ATP per molecule of glucose. This highlights the importance of having a constant supply of oxygen. ATP provides energy for bodily processes such as digestion, cell division and muscle contractions, allowing us to move. Glucose provides the energy needed for all of this to happen, making it essential for life to occur.