Oxygen’s surprisingly complex journey through your body – Enda Butler

Oxygen forms about 21% of the air around us. In your body, oxygen forms a vital role in the production of energy in most cells. But if gases can only efficiently diffuse across tiny distances, how does oxygen reach the cells deep inside your body?

“When we breathe, oxygen gets into our bodies. Every day about 2,000 gallons of circulating blood travel through an estimated 60,000 miles of blood vessels which link all the cells and organs of our body.

Oxygen is traveling in that circulating blood.  How does it move from our lungs to other places, like the brain?

This video clip provides an animated overview of the process.

All cells need oxygen to live. Freely available in the air around us, oxygen is the essential fuel to help cells stay alive and carry out their jobs.

How does oxygen reach our body’s cells? It follows a systematic transportation route which depends on another substance called hemoglobin.

Getting oxygen to the body’s cells requires three major events:

  •     Uptaking oxygen from the air to the lungs;
  •     Transporting that oxygen in the blood; and
  •     Delivering the oxygen to cells throughout the body.

How does a person’s body uptake oxygen? Blood flows through our bodies via fine capillaries in the walls of our lungs’ air sacs. Those air sacs are called alveoli.

The oxygen molecules undergo a change once they are inside the body. They change from gas molecules, which circulate in the air, to dissolving into a solution within the blood’s plasma located within the capillaries of the alveoli.

Once those dissolved oxygen molecules are in the solution of the blood, 98% of the dissolved oxygen is taken-up by red blood cells which are passing by. The other 2% of the dissolved oxygen remains in the physical solution.

Red cells are great vehicles for transporting the dissolved oxygen. That’s because red blood cells contain a special oxygen-binding protein known as “hemoglobin.” https://www.awesomestories.com/asset/view/Breathing-How-Oxygen-Travels-in-the-Body0

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