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WHAT IS CHITIN? IMPORTANT ROLES AND INFORMATION TO KNOW ABOUT THEM

( Update: 07/06/2021 )

1. What is chitin? Their characteristics and properties

  • Chitin is a long-chain polymer of an N-Acetylglucosamine, a glucose derivative. They exist as solid, ivory-white or pale yellow, flake or powder, odorless and tasteless.
  • Other names: Chitin.
  • Molecular formula: (C8H13O5N)n.
  • Chitin is insoluble in water, alkalis, dilute acids or organic solvents. Also soluble in hot concentrated acids such as HCl, H 2 SO 4 , H 3 PO 4  78 - 97%, anhydrous formic acid and soluble in hexafluoro isopropanol..

Features and properties of chitin

Features and properties of chitin

2. What is the structure of chitin? 

  • They are a linear polysaccharide composed of N-acetyl-D- Glucosamine subunits linked together by β(1-4) bonds. The linkage of chitin is poly[β-(1→ 4)- 2-acetamido-2- deoxy- D- glucopyranose].
  • Chitin has a crystalline structure and is composed of a network of organic fibers so they are very tight and quite regular. 
  • There is a low chance of a chemical reaction.
  • Once considered cellulose because of only one structural difference: the hydroxyl in the C-2 position is replaced by an acetamido group.

The structure of chitin

The structure of chitin

3. How is chitin produced? 

How is chitin produced, what is the process? Here are the specifics: 

  • Chitin is easily obtained from crab shells, shrimp shells or mycelium, the production of which is relevant to the food industry, most clearly seen in canning factories.
  • Some countries possess large untapped crustacean resources such as Norway, Mexico and Chile. It is economically feasible to produce chitosan from crustacean shells. Because crustacean shells contain significant amounts of astaxanthin, a carotenoid to date that has not been artificially synthesized, and is marketed as an additive in aquaculture, especially salmon. .

How is chitin produced?

How is chitin produced?

4. The important roles of chitin

Chitin is widely used today because of the important roles they bring to many fields and professions in life. As follows: 

  • Highly applied for medical and industrial purposes because of its antifungal and antibacterial activity, high biodegradability, hypoallergenicity, and non-toxicity to humans and animals. 
  • They play an important role in building the exoskeleton of some animals such as shrimp, crabs and many other insects. The cell wall of the fungus is also composed of this substance, which makes the protein cell wall stiff and impermeable to water.
  • As raw material for man-made fibers: Fibers made from chitin are used to manufacture self-dissolving sutures and wound dressings. The characteristics of sutures made from chitin are durable, able to withstand "harsh" environments such as bile, urine and pancreatic juice, which other self-dissolving sutures cannot do. 
  • In addition, wound dressings made from chitin can be used in wastewater treatment applications, which are highly used in industries. 
  • They are also very good for everyone's health: Boiling chitin in a concentrated alkaline solution under the right conditions will have chitosan. According to research, chitosan has the effect of lowering blood cholesterol by a local mechanism and is quite effective in treating stomach ulcers. 

The important roles of chitin

The important roles of chitin

5. Chitosan (processed form of chitin) and great health benefits 

Chitosan is a processed form of chitin and has many health benefits. Follow the details below: 

5.1 Chitosan helps to lose weight effectively 

Chitosan forms a connective membrane that binds to bile and fatty acids in the intestine. These membranes then pass through the digestive system increasing the amount of fat removed in the stool.

In addition, chitosan lowers insulin, while increasing leptin levels to prevent insulin resistance, while leptin works to signal satiety, helping to reduce cravings and aid in weight loss. 

Chitosan helps to lose weight effectively 

Chitosan helps to lose weight effectively 

5.2 Support to reduce fatigue

Chitosan oligosaccharides may increase energy and stamina, besides helping to reduce excess levels of the stress hormone cortisol and increase levels of an important antioxidant called superoxide dismutase.

5.3 Effectively reduce cholesterol 

Chitosan has cholesterol-lowering effects due to its ability to reduce absorption.

Studies show that adding them to a regular diet can reduce total cholesterol levels by ~6-40% and LDL cholesterol levels by 15-35%

5.4 Improves the health of joints very well

If you combine chitosan with glucosamine, it can improve the absorption of glucosamine in the body by 2-3 times to improve bone health very well. 

5.5 Effective wound healing 

According to clinical trials, chitosan gels can help speed up wound healing, they stimulate collagen production, increase local immune response, encourage tissue regeneration and prevent scarring so that can help shorten wound healing time. 

5.6 Helps fight inflammation and protect the brain 

According to the results, chitosan oligosaccharides help reduce inflammation in the brain, effectively inhibiting the release of inflammatory cytokines. 

Besides, Chitosan oligosaccharide may also have some brain-protective properties, supplementing with oligosaccharide form reduces brain damage in Alzheimer's patients, helps to improve memory and increase learning ability very well. 

5.7 What is the impact on kidney disease?

Chitosan was found to be beneficial for people with kidney disease or kidney failure. An earlier study found that among 40 people with kidney failure who were given chitosan supplements, there were significant improvements in strength, appetite and sleep after 12 weeks. It also increases hemoglobin and lowers blood creatinine and urea levels, which improves kidney function.

In addition, in people with chronic kidney disease, higher phosphorus levels increase the risk of death. Studies in rats have shown that the iron-chitosan complex significantly reduces blood phosphorus levels.