What Are Nucleotides? Part 1 - Basics

Nucleotides. It’s an intimidating word that leaves many folks a bit unsettled. If you’re a biologist or a doctor, you know what we’re talking about, but the vast majority of people have only a vague recollection from high school biology. 

We’ve decided to change that. This is the first article in a series that will explain what nucleotides are and why nuBound uses them. We aim to break down jargon and provide a logical explanation for everyday use.

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Most people are familiar with the basic components of nutrition. These are carbohydrates, fats, and protein, which are frequently referred to as macros (shorthand for macronutrients). These substances are present in every living cell and a healthy diet provides replenishment for them.

Many athletes adjust their intake of these nutrients to pursue dietary goals. Athletes looking to build muscle will increase protein intake. Marathon runners are famous for carb loading prior to a big event to increase stores of energy. Others might opt for a low carb diet to increase fat-burning.

Overlooked in this list is a fourth compound that’s also present in every cell of your body. Your genetic material, which comes in the form of nucleic acids. Nucleotides are the building blocks of nucleic acids.

Every single cell in your body has a complete copy of your genetic code stored in the form of nucleic acids. There are two types of nucleic acids: deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA). DNA is the library that stores your genetic code and RNA is a template copy which carries the instructions for building new proteins into your cell where they are manufactured.

Nucleic acids are long chains built from millions of nucleotides. Each nucleotide consists of three molecules joined together: a sugar, a phosphate molecule and a molecule containing nitrogen called a base. There are four different bases which provide the “alphabet” of the genetic code.

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Watch for future episodes of this series as we explore further topics on nucleotides and the roles they play in our health.