What is Galactose?
Or: Galactose – Simply Sugar?
Galactose is a simple sugar, without a doubt. However, it is also of considerable importance to the human organism, more than one would expect of a "simple" sugar. The following example serves to illustrate this:
The human blood types impressively illustrate the biological importance of carbohydrates in glycolipids. The following diagram depicts the terminal sugars or monosaccharides (simple sugars) of the main blood types O, A and B.
Blood types A and B only differ from blood type O by the presence of an additional monosaccharide, N-acetylgalactosamine for type A and galactose for type B. Expressed another way, blood types O and B differ only by one galactose molecule. This apparently small difference makes the difference between life and death for the human organism in blood transfusions.
This illustrative role of galactose in the human body is completely independent of the oral consumption of galactose. It is merely demonstrative of the curious juxtaposition of the simplicity of the substance and its importance to the body. It is similar to a brick. In itself it is a rather "boring" item; in the imagination of an architect and with skilled hands it can become a work of art.