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July 13, 1957


Author Affiliations

Galveston, Texas

From the Department of Biochemistry and Nutrition, University of Texas Medical Branch. Dr. Bessey is now from the Environmental Protection Research Division, Headquarters Quartermaster Research and Development Command, Quartermaster Research and Development Center, U. S. Army, Natick, Massachusetts.

JAMA. 1957;164(11):1224-1229. doi:10.1001/jama.1957.62980110016009

The three great classes of foodstuffs—fats, carbohydrates, and proteins—serve two principal biological purposes: the provision of the basic chemical material from which cells and tissues are formed, and the provision of energy. Energy is necessary for all physiological functions, including the synthesis of the myriad compounds found in tissues and their organization into the living structural pattern. Both the catabolic and anabolic aspects of the metabolism of the amino acids (the basic structural units of the proteins) are inextricably related to the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates and, therefore, cannot be discussed without some reference to metabolism in general. Analogously, most of the known vitamins function with respect to metabolism as a whole, including the metabolism of the amino acids.

The principal products of mammalian catabolism are carbon dioxide, water, urea, and energy. The utilizable energy arising from metabolism is largely captured in a chemical form as bond energy in