Plants are one of the five kingdoms of living matter.
Human existence is dependent on them for food because plants, in one form or another, synthesize all our food.
The powerhouse of a plant cell is the chloroplast.
Chloroplasts are a stack of membrane-like layers that contain the phytochemical chlorophyll.
Chlorophyll is the green pigment, responsible for absorbing light energy from the sun and starting its conversion it into the chemical bonds of sugar.
Chloroplasts are the sites where photosynthesis occurs.
Carbon enters the living world from the gas carbon dioxide. CO2 originates as the waste product of aerobic respiration. Aerobic respiration releases the chemical energy of the carbon bonds of glucose and uses it too form high energy compounds like ATP.
The light reaction captures energy from the sun and uses it to split hydrogen atoms from water and release molecular oxygen (O2).
Oxygen is thus made available to the animal world where it is used to burn glucose inside their cell’s mitochondria.
The resulting hydrogen atoms, the solar energy converted to chemical energy, and carbon dioxide (CO2.) combine in the dark reaction to produce the 6-carbon sugar glucose.
The carbons of glucose are found in a cyclic form with oxygen occupying one apex of the ring. Glucose is the building block upon which all plant fuels are derived. The light and dark events together make up the photosynthesis.
Radiant energy from the sun is captured and used to convert CO2 into organic carbon. Organic carbon becomes incorporated into the sugars formed during photosynthesis. These sugars combine with other compounds to produce a variety of carbohydrates and saponins (glycosides). The richer the content of soil, the more complex the phytochemicals produced and the more they are likely to have medicinal activity.
The combination of these organic compounds with minerals result in the multitude of biologically active compounds found in plants. These complex compounds are created in photosynthesis. This process produces a wide variety of molecules, many of which are essential to life.
Some of these compounds are not often thought of as having a botanical origin. One example of this are omega-3 fatty acids. This botanical product earns most favored status among the army of supplements.
High levels of omega-3 fatty acids are thought to promote molecular conditions that result in a healthy heart and healthy joints.
Omega-3 fatty acids are provided in the diet by the skin of cold water fish. But they are actually derived from the photosynthetic activity of plankton, green plants that cold-water fish like salmon, sea bass, tuna, trout and mackerel feed on.
Plankton synthesize the fatty acid chains and stores them. It is a good insulator from the cold of the water. In fact, the colder the water, the higher the concentration of omega-3 oils in the plankton and fish. Plants provides the fish with these essential omega-3 fatty acids, which they then use as to maintain body temperature.
Plankton are especially high in EPA and DHA (eicosapentaenoic and docosahexanoic acids).