Cofactors


chemical reactions

In regards to our complex biochemistry, there are thousands of chemicals and chemical systems, all geared towards homeostasis, or optimum functioning. Each chemical has a specific function or range of functions. The way each chemical functions in the body depend on quite a few factors. Temperature and pH, are just some of the governing factors on how efficiently chemicals interact and the rate (or speed) of reactions. For example, chemical reactions increase with an increase in temperature.


Some chemical reactions proceed so slow without help, that their effect on the body would be negligible. To help quicken the pace of reactions, man has enzymes, molecules which accelerate the rate of reaction. For example, if a required hormone was produced without the help of an enzyme, perhaps, only a few copies per second would be made. However, with the help of an enzyme, several thousand molecules are made per second in each cell conducting the reactions. Enzymes chemically interact with other atoms and molecules during a reaction, and alter them so that they can react easier of more efficiently with each other and thus more quickly Thus, we can see that chemicals such as enzymes are essential for our biochemistry to proceed at an appreciable rate.


Although enzymes help accelerate the rate of reactions, enzymes themselves also require a helper to make "them" work efficiently. We refer to these little helpers as "cofactors". A cofactor can be a single element, principle such as a coenzyme, or some other molecule or moiety.


When a cofactor unites with its target enzyme or other chemical, etc., the cofactor may affect the part or the entire shape of its target molecule. The change in shape may help the new complex (target + cofactor) interact more easily with other elements or molecules.


For example, chrome (also called chromium, depending on chemical state), is considered a cofactor for many enzymes and some hormones in the body. The element chromium combines with insulin to increase its effectiveness. Chromium is also required for growth hormone, and other enzymes. Below we list various cofactors and their functions.


cofactors
TPP NAD+ NADP+
1 NAD is cofactor form (of niacin), acting as a coenzyme.
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