What is Urea? Urea is a natural amino acid found in the human body, which is responsible for the formation of proteins and many enzymes. It is a nitrogenous substance, which means that it consists of a nitrogen atom and an electron. It also contains a non-functional carbon base, which is identical to carbon and one electron more than that of what is contained by all other amino acids.
Urea has a chemically identical amino acid composition to that of arginine. However, it does not contain any carbon or nitrogen. In fact, this organic acid is only one of two non-carbon atoms in its functional group, along with cysteine and glutamine. Because of this, the term “urea” refers to a combination of nitrogen and non-carbon atoms, which are found together at the center of every organic compound. It also includes the compounds Urea and Ammonia.
When plants and animals use oxygen, they extract nitrogen from the air, which is then converted to urea through a process called oxidation. Nitrogen is transported by transport molecules, and each molecule has a specific affinity for different amino acids. When urea combines with another amino acid, a reaction occurs called a peptide bond. The peptide bonds convert the urea to carbon dioxide. The rate of this reaction is determined by the number of carbon bonds that form. The number of carbon bonds determines the concentration of nitrogen, which is needed to make proteins.
Urea serves several important functions in the body. When animals and plants metabolize proteins, they use urea as a source of nitrogen. The urea contains carbon dioxide, which is needed to split the amino acids in the protein. Carbon dioxide also is used by the kidneys to remove excess nitrogen from waste products, and by the brain to absorb neurotransmitters and ions that are responsible for emotion and memory. The nitrogen and carbon dioxide combine to form amino acids and carbonic acid, which are the building blocks of most living organisms.
The Urea cycle provides a means by which aerobic bacteria can digest starches and sugars and produce carbon dioxide and ammonia, the two most common byproducts of animal and plant metabolism. The excessive production of urea and ammonia results from the breakdown of foods that contain low levels of nitrogen and in the process create excess ammonia and carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide and ammonia have both been implicated in the development of global warming.
Two main types of nitrogen salts are formed by the metabolic process. These two main salts are known as urea and nitrogenous waste. They differ in physical properties, concentration, and solubility. Below is an explanation of each type of urea:
Urine – This is the purest form of nitrogen that contains no carbon dioxide or ammonia. It also contains no other nitrogen compounds. Urine can be separated from the other component of urine, referred to as secondary nitrogen, by the aid of a neutralizing agent such as baking soda or hydrogen peroxide. When the concentration of this waste is high, the urine contains a higher concentration of ammonia.
Carbonaceous – This is the carbon-rich component of urine. It consists of several substances, including nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and oxygen. Animals excrete a high amount of urea through their urine, which is why animals are often labeled “carbon creatures.” Urea is found in many forms in nature, including fish, plant matter, and animal tissues. Carbonaceous matter is generally acidic in nature.
Urinary – This refers to the excreted urine of an animal. This is the main constituent in waste management. When urea is excreted through the urine, it contains nitrogen, sulfur, and other nutrients. Animals excrete up to one pint of urinary content per day. A person typically excretes about one pint of urine per day.
Organic Compounds – This refers to any material that is created by living organisms. Plants create organic compounds in the process of photosynthesis, which is how they produce food for themselves. Fish produce urea as a byproduct of their respiration process. Fish can also generate urea as a byproduct of consuming its own waste products, such as ammonia, which is a component of cyanate.
Carbohydrate – This is a form of urea that has carbon molecules attached to it. Carbohydrate urea is found in animal proteins such as meat and dairy products and is a major component of dairy products. The only instance when this is not the case is when the animal is fed a low protein or carbohydrate diet. For example, in order to meet the United States’ recommended daily allowance of protein, a person needs to eat about two pounds of chicken breast a day. However, in this scenario, the animal would only be generating about half a pound of meat protein and therefore no carbohydrates would be generated from the animal. Urea is produced from the remains of animals that have been fed a protein-rich diet and will therefore be listed on the food label as carbamide, or simply carb.