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Galactose (Molecule of the Month for February 2008)

Hexose, Sugar

Galactose (Gal) (also called brain sugar) is a type of sugar which is less sweet than glucose and not very water-soluble. It is considered a nutritive sweetener because it has food energy. It is found in dairy products, in sugar beets and other gums and mucilages. It is also synthesized by the body, where it forms part of glycolipids and glycoproteins in several tissues.

Galactose is a monosaccharide constituent, together with glucose, of the disaccharide lactose. The hydrolysis of lactose to glucose and galactose is catalyzed by the enzyme lactase, a β-galactosidase. In the human body, glucose is changed into galactose in order to enable the mammary glands to secrete lactose.

Formal Chemical Name (IUPAC)



Picture of Galactose

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with the 3D model of the
Galactose structure
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Picture of Galactose

C6 H12 O6

Update by Karl Harrison
(Molecule of the Month for February 2008 )