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Author Topic: Finding Chemical Compounds in Apple  (Read 8602 times)

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serpx

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Finding Chemical Compounds in Apple
« on: January 08, 2007, 07:07:16 AM »

Hi, I am working on a project, and I am trying to findout how to find Chemical Compounds in ... well, anything. To make an example: an apple.

What steps would it take to find the Chemical Compounds of an Apple?  I know that H20, water, exists in an apple -- but I'd like to know everything else!  I'm sure there's a site somewhere that lists all the compounds, but I want to have the capability to do it myself (even if it'd require a lot of weird science tools).

Any help would be appreciated, thanks!
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Alberto_Kravina

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Re: Finding Chemical Compounds in Apple
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2007, 07:27:08 AM »

Is there anything special that you want to find (such as special natural colours or something like that)?

Quote
but I'd like to know everything else!
EVERYTHING? Well, I think that there are hundrets of compounds in an apple, so maybe you should focus on something special, if you don't want to spend the rest of your life analyzing an apple ;)
« Last Edit: March 18, 2007, 10:53:25 PM by Alberto_Kravina »
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serpx

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Re: Finding Chemical Compounds in Apple
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2007, 08:43:08 AM »

Quote
EVERYTHING? Well, I think that there are hundrets of compounds in an apple, so maybe you should focus on something special, if you don't want spend the rest of your life analyzing an apple 

Haha, yup, everything!  Really, I just want to know the steps to obtaining such data.  Would I need any special equipment, like a microscope?  And if I did get any special equipment, what would I look for, or how would I basically use it?

I just want to know the steps to finding out the compounds of something like an apple.  How do people know how much Vitamin A is in an apple?  How do people know that iron exists in, hypothetically if untrue, a banana? I want to know how to do it, so I can take anything -- an apple, an orange, a drop of coffee -- and be able to look into it, and see what compounds exist inside of it.

I really appreciate the reply.  It's been really hard research for some odd reason.  :'(
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serpx

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Re: Finding Chemical Compounds in Apple
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2007, 01:37:10 PM »

And this isn't general chemistry?   :P
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enahs

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Re: Finding Chemical Compounds in Apple
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2007, 01:45:25 PM »

If you wanted the easiest and quickest way to find the chemical components of an apple, by doing the experiment your self, you would probably want to use a GC-MS. Look around spending at least a 100,000 for a very basic and not so great one. Then you would need years of experience to understand how to work one and interpret the results.


Your examples of vitamin A and Iron are very common ones, and they are both done with separate procedures (because not everybody can afford a MS, nor will they actually work for everything, and interoperating the results of all the mixture of chemicals and compounds in an “apple” would take the most skilled analysts when it comes to MS.

In fact, I doubt there is anybody anywhere that has done this experiment because it is so very complicated. And also, different apples will vary, tremendously. Just being grown on the other side of the field can have huge impact.


In short, you can not. I know this is not the answer you want to hear. If you know of ever specific thing you want to check for, you can perform the thousands of experiments for that, if you chose.

I however, would start with a few basic ones. And have you actually had any chemistry classes?
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Borek

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Re: Finding Chemical Compounds in Apple
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2007, 01:53:02 PM »

Just being grown on the other side of the field can have huge impact.

Other side of the tree may be enough - you get different exposure to the Sun. For sure that will be enough to change the apple composition (ie ratio of substances prsent).
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constant thinker

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Re: Finding Chemical Compounds in Apple
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2007, 03:52:52 PM »

I agree with enahs.

You could probably test for certain compounds that you want to know if there is a presence of them in the sample, but not everything at once.
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serpx

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Re: Finding Chemical Compounds in Apple
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2007, 06:02:59 PM »

Yeah, I had Chemistry and all of that.  Thanks a lot for the answers -- and pricing for anything is not a concern to me (though I wish it was easier!).

I'm going to go ahead and tell my idea here, which I can now see why it hasn't been done before (or if it has, where can I find such data) ?

I'm studying foods and herbs, and there are all these claims like "this MAY help with this" or "this MAY cure that."  One step I'm going to take to take care of this is to have pages of food and herb items, such as Apples, Bananas, White Tea, whatever ... and list a table of the compounds that are found in them, such as H20, or Vitamin C, or whatever.  (I'd list the common compound name, and the molecular structure beside it). 

I WAS going to consider also having a separate column listing how much compounds, on average, exists in something ... like a certain IU of Vitamin A, but from your responses, it seems like that'll seriously take too long to care for.

I'll note down any type of equipment, knowledge, or whatever it takes to be able to do this.  Money is not a problem for me, it'll just take longer than I thought it'd take.  I just want to look through a variety of foods and herbs, look into them -- see what compounds exists -- and write them down.  I'm going to assume a regular microscope wouldn't give me that capability?
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constant thinker

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Re: Finding Chemical Compounds in Apple
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2007, 03:33:20 PM »

That sounds like a good idea, as far as the compiling a list of what's in  sample n. You can do it on a smaller scale though. By smaller scale I'm meaning that you can test for the things we know our bodies actively use or have a purpose in our bodies. Example are amino acids, sugars, vitamins, minerals, et cetera.

Keep in mind if you were to compile a list you can't just take one sample. You need a wide variety of samples from different areas, and compile averages on amounts. You also would need to pay attention to what species of said sample.

You could also just test the claims that people make by testing for the presence of a named compound, or a compound that is believed to be associated with the claim.
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"The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.' " -Ronald Reagan

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enahs

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Re: Finding Chemical Compounds in Apple
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2007, 05:03:56 PM »

If you are only wanting to find the information that is related to health/human body, that is a different question. Your body obviously does not use everything it takes in (hence the waste). Some of your waste is toxins it must flush, and some of it is usable material, but most would be stuff your body just does not need/can not use.

Finding out the very detailed nutritional information is different. But it has been done for most foods already.

In fact, what you want is already done:

http://www.nutritiondata.com/

Here, for apples:
http://www.nutritiondata.com/facts-C00001-01c20TB.html
Bananas:
http://www.nutritiondata.com/facts-C00001-01c20Tm.html

etc etc, just search and browse around.

This does not list the molecular structure of the compounds, but that could easily be looked up elsewhere.

The key here is that "every compound" and "every relevant compound" are two entirely different thing.

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serpx

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Re: Finding Chemical Compounds in Apple
« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2007, 05:46:03 PM »

If you are only wanting to find the information that is related to health/human body, that is a different question. Your body obviously does not use everything it takes in (hence the waste). Some of your waste is toxins it must flush, and some of it is usable material, but most would be stuff your body just does not need/can not use.

Finding out the very detailed nutritional information is different. But it has been done for most foods already.

In fact, what you want is already done:

http://www.nutritiondata.com/

Here, for apples:
http://www.nutritiondata.com/facts-C00001-01c20TB.html
Bananas:
http://www.nutritiondata.com/facts-C00001-01c20Tm.html

etc etc, just search and browse around.

This does not list the molecular structure of the compounds, but that could easily be looked up elsewhere.

The key here is that "every compound" and "every relevant compound" are two entirely different thing.



Yeah, I noticed that site, and it's very close to what I had in mind ... well, actually, a LOT more than what I had in mind -- but, the only thing that it lacks that I want to do is herbs, and food items that it may be missing.

Yes, this is for a health reason.  But, the only reason I want to do EVERY compound is because ... well, what if scientists find that a certain compound does a certain thing to, say, a disease in the lung?  If we searched food items that had a high amount of this compound, then quickly scientists can recommend it.

Now, I know it'd probably take years and years to do every herb and food item, but what I'd do is get a few compounds from one food item, then go on to another -- and not worry about spending years on just one item.  I'd have it up online or something so other science groups can also chip in and add to the compound lists for different foods and herbs.

I've been studying this further, and I'm teaching myself a lot more Chemistry so I can understand a little something called Food Analysis.  There's ways scientists follow to find out say, how much Protein or Vitamin E is in a food item.

Again, I really appreciate the responses.  I'm getting closer to the answer.
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enahs

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Re: Finding Chemical Compounds in Apple
« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2007, 05:59:46 PM »

Herbs and spices have virtually no nutritional value. They are just for flavor, your body does not actually digest most of them to any appreciable extent. That is not to say they do not have an effect on the human body though. But that is why you do not find them on those kinds of sites, because there is nothing to find.


You can do what you say, but it will take a lot...and I mean a lot of money and a lot of time. You will probably spend the rest of your life and not get done, actually. That is not to say your finding will not be useful.

The problem is, this kind of analytical undertaking is not something we can just tell you in a few forum post. I do not see it possible without a minimum of a bachelors in chemistry. Yes we can help you with a few specific problems and such, or your analytical method does not work for say pears because of the high water content, etc. It will require lots of knowledge with regards to analytical chemistry, and lots of time and basically an endless supply of money.



But as you just said, in food analysis, how to find out how much protein and vitamin E in a particular food; That is relatively easy actually. If you know what you are looking for, it is not too bad. But all that data is already available (the nutritional information like I linked too). But as you hinted to earlier, some random compound in food is later found to be very beneficial health wise. Cool, and very likely. But determining 1000's of possible unknowns in a sample is not an easy undertaking, and as I said requires a lot of knowledge and skill.

In short, knowing what you are looking for and looking for it is a lot more easy then looking for everything.
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serpx

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Re: Finding Chemical Compounds in Apple
« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2007, 06:42:51 PM »

Herbs that are used for medicine aren't?   ???

Anyways, you have great points, and I appreciate the responses.  This is something I'd like to get into, so I'm actually going to take the time and money to get it working someday.  I think studying Chemistry, and learning the methods of how scientists extract the data from things like foods will be a good approach for me.  This isn't as easy as I imagined it!  ;D

Great place here BTW.  I'll definitely come back for any actual chemistry problem.
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enahs

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Re: Finding Chemical Compounds in Apple
« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2007, 07:02:55 PM »

Herbs that are used for medicine aren't?   ???

That is still up for debate. They posses no nutritional value. That is to say they do not contain any of the required fats, amino acids, vitamins and minerals required for everyday bodily function.

That does not mean other compounds in them might not be useful for fighting diseases and other ailments. Two completely different things. That is where the difference in "all compounds" and "biologically known and relevant" ones come into play.
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constant thinker

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Re: Finding Chemical Compounds in Apple
« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2007, 03:59:03 PM »

I think around 7 or 8 grams of nutmeg can actually be fairly dangerous, but then again too much sugar can be dangerous.

As far as spices and herbs goes, enahs brought up a key fact. They really pose no "nutritional" value, but some do have the things enahs named off which our bodies need. The thing is though, most (if not all) of the helpful things you can get from them you can probably also get elsewhere in what we more commonly eat.
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"The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.' " -Ronald Reagan

"I'm for anything that gets you through the night, be it prayer, tranquilizers, or a bottle of Jack Daniels." -Frank Sinatra
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