Chemistry of Life » Co-factors and Vitamins

There are quite a large number of substances that seem to occur in one form or another in many if not most living organisms. Many enzymes and transport systems not only require proteins but other factors such as cytochromes and haem. Some of these factors are not synthesised by many animals and are required in the diet as vitamins and minerals. Iron is a typical example. It is required in many animals to make haem which is essential in the formation of haemoglobin for oxygen transport in the blood. A very interesting fact however is that at least three other metallic containing compounds other than iron have been found in the blood of certain groups of animals. Although iron containing haemoglobin is used by the majority of animal species in the transport of oxygen, some animals use a different system. Instead hemocyanin, a copper containing protein is used by a number of species, predominant among them squids and octopi and other cephalopods. A vanadium compound, vanadium chromagen, is used by some species of sea squirts, ascidians and tunicates. A manganese porphyrin, pinnaglobin is used in the blood of a mollusc called Pinna squamosa.

Ray Goodwin

Somewhere there are mountains
Glistening in the snow
Somewhere there are mountains
That we shall never know

Somewhere there are rivers
Flowing fast and free
Somewhere there are rivers
That we can never see

Somewhere there are oceans
And sun drenched island sands
Forests full of creatures
In vastly distant lands

Somewhere there’s a planet
Beneath an alien star
The people watch our tiny sun
And wonder where we are

One day perhaps we’ll find them
Across the void of space
Perhaps through ways as yet unknown
We’ll meet them face to face

The author of this web site Ray Goodwin holds B.Sc. Degrees from London University in Chemistry, Geology and Physiology and an M.Sc. in Biochemistry. He has spent most of his professional life teaching in Colleges of Technology. On his retirement he has entered the fields of astronomy, astrochemistry, astrobiology and space sciences. He has spent a great deal of his retirement in visiting amateur astronomy societies and in attending European Space Agency Symposia in ESTEC in the Netherlands and other scientific conferences in England and Sweden. He regularly attends the yearly European Astrofest in South Kensington London and other meetings in the UK. He has written scientific articles and given a number of lectures on diverse scientific subjects.

Readers of this web site are invited to e-mail the author ( and discuss their opinions of the topics dealt with and suggest any changes which they think may be helpful.

Life in the Cosmos Website
Version 01.00 - April 20, 2015.