How can Carbohydrates be Classified Based on the number of carbohydrate units?

Carbohydrates are also called as saccharides. Carbohydrates can be a single molecule or a bigger molecule formed by the condensation of smaller carbohydrates with simultaneous elimination of water. On hydrolysis, carbohydrates break into smaller carbohydrates from which they are formed.

Depending on the number of basic carbohydrate units produced on acid hydrolysis, carbohydrate is classified as-

Number of basic carbohydrate units

1

2

3

4

2 to 10

More than 10

(……..) Saccharides

Mono-

Di-

Tri-

Tetra-

Oligo-

Poly-

The carbohydrates that cannot be further hydrolyzed to carbohydrates are monosaccharides. The empirical formula of monosaccharides is CH2O and hence thought to be the hydrates of carbon. 

The molecular formula of carbohydrates is written as either (CH2O)n or Cx(CH2O)y. 

But, molecules like formaldehyde (HCHO) and acetic acid (CH3COOH) though have this formula, are not carbohydrates. Rhamnose, a carbohydrate has a molecular formula (C6H12O5), different from the general formula of a carbohydrate. 

Polysaccharides are complex molecules containing carbohydrate units. Polysaccharides contain hundreds or thousands of monosaccharide units, varying in the proportion of branched-chain length (e.g., cellulose, starch, glycogen).

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