How Ketones are Formed

Basic Concept and Definition of Ketones

Google the word “ketones”, you will get certain definitions and concepts of Ketones. In some cases, ketones are used and defined from the chemistry aspect. While in some cases Ketones are defined with a simple approach.

Here we’ll discuss the word “Ketones” from both angles i.e. chemical (technically) and biological (layman mind view).

Ketones from Chemistry Aspect

A ketone is a functional group and water-soluble molecule that contains a carbonyl group which is single-bonded with two hydrocarbon group. In this structure, the carbonyl group is a carbon atom that is double bonded with an oxygen atom.

Chemical Strcuture of Ketone
Chemical Structure of Ketone

Look at the picture. This is Acetone (a Ketone).

In the picture, you’ll see that a carbonyl group (big C (the central C)) is bonded with two hydrocarbon groups and double-bonded with Oxygen (big O). The carbon atom is single-bonded with two hydrocarbon groups while double bonded with oxygen.

A hydrocarbon group is a compound that consists of hydrogen and carbon. In the above image, there are two hydrocarbon groups. Each hydrocarbon groups is called “methyl group”. From the image, it also shows the methyl group contains one carbon atom single-bonded with three hydrogen molecules.

Chemical Structure of Acetone
Chemical Structure of Acetone

This image is the chemical formula of a Ketone “Acetone”. The chemical formula further cleared the chemical structure and chemical formation of Ketone.

It feels that all the above discussion goes over your head. Am I right? No doubt that organic chemistry is too complicated and a layman can’t understand this.

The good news is that now we are going to translate all the above mention discussion in a common man language.

Definition of Ketones for a Layman

Liver producing Ketone from Fatty Acid
Liver producing Ketone from Fatty Acid

Glucose in the body is used as an energy source but when glucose isn’t available, the fat available in the liver broken down into smaller molecules called fatty acids and glycerol. These fatty acids are further broken down into chemicals called “Ketones”. This whole process of broken-down is called “Ketogenesis”.

Types of Ketones

Three types of Ketones
Three types of Ketones

There are three types of ketones or Ketone bodies as following:

  1. Acetoacetate
  2. Beta-Hydroxybutyrate
  3. Acetone

Let’s understand these Ketones one by one.

Acetoacetate Ketone

When liver converts fats into fatty acids and fatty acids further broken down into Ketones, two Acetyl-Coenzymes (Acetyl-CoA: a molecule used by the body for energy production via citric acid) are joined to make ketones called “Acetoacetate”.

Chemically, Acetoacetate is a 3-oxo monocarboxylic acid that is the conjugate base of acetoacetic acid (also called diabetic acid). It originates from butyrate. Following is the molecular formula of Acetoacetate.

Molecular Formula of Acetoacetate

C4H5O3

Chemical Structure of Acetoacetate

Chemical Structure of Acetoacetate
Chemical Structure of Acetoacetate

Beta-Hydroxybutyrate Ketone

When glucose isn’t available, the body searches for an alternative source to use as an energy source. At this stage, fats available in the liver are turning down into fatty acids and fatty acids are further broken down into three types of Ketones. One of these ketones is called Beta-Hydroxybutyrate. It helps the brain and nerves to work better.

Chemically, Beta-Hydroxybutyrate is an organic compound that is the conjugate base of Beta-Hydroxybutyric acid (also called 3-hydroxybutyric acid). It also originates from butyrate. Following is the molecular formula of Acetoacetate.

Molecular Formula of Beta-Hydroxybutyrate

C4H8O3

Chemical Structure of Beta-Hydroxybutyrate

Chemical Structure of Beta-Hydroxybutyrate
Chemical Structure of Beta-Hydroxybutyrate

Acetone Ketone

In the non-availability of glucose in the body, the fats in the liver converted into fatty acids. These fatty acids are further broken down into Ketones. One of that Ketone is called “Acetone”. The Acetones are transmitted to body cells where they are used by the body as an energy source.

Chemically, Acetone has a carbonyl group that is bonded with two hydrocarbon groups and double-bonded with Oxygen. The carbon atom is single-bonded with two hydrocarbon groups while double bonded with oxygen.

FAQ’s regarding Ketones

What are Ketones exactly?

When glucose runs out from the body, the fats (available in the liver) turn into smaller molecules called fatty acids. These fatty acids are further broken into particles called “Ketones”, which are used as an alternative source of energy.

How many types of Ketones are there?

Acetoacetate, Beta-Hydroxybutyrate, Acetone.

What is molecular formula of Acetoacetate?

The molecular formula of Acetoacetate is C4H5O3

What is molecular formula of Acetone?

The molecular formula of Acetone is C3H6O

What is molecular formula of Beta-Hydroxybutyrate?

The molecular formula of Acetone is C4H8 O3

What is Hydrocarbon group?

A hydrocarbon group is a compound that consists of hydrogen and carbon.

What Ketogenesis is exactly?

Glucose in the body is used as an energy source but when glucose isn’t available, the fat available in the liver broken down into smaller molecules called fatty acids and glycerol. These fatty acids are further broken down into chemicals called “Ketones”. This whole process of broken-down is called “Ketogenesis”.

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