Avery SmithMs. KumarAP Chemistry23 January 2018Vanity, Vitality, and Virility by John Emsley Report In Vanity, Vitality, and Virility, John Emsley unbiasedly educates his readers on the chemistry behind everyday products ranging from makeup to medications. He also decodes popular nutritional myths, explains how erectile dysfunction drugs work, and ???. This book uses authentic scientific evidence to educate individual consumers on healthy lifestyle and spending habits, but it presents all of its information in a simple manner that someone not educated in chemistry can comprehend.The first chapter, “Vanity: No More Wrinkles!” breaks down cosmetics such as lipstick, anti-aging creams, and tanning lotions.
The requirements for an effective lipstick are extensive: it must have a rich color, resist smears, have a mild taste, resist bacterial growth, and of course, must not be made with any toxic ingredients. Since the corneal layer of skin on the lips dries out easily, oil must also be a main ingredient in lipsticks in order to add proper moisture to the skin. Castor oil, lanolin, and petroleum jelly are all safe and effective oils. Beeswax is the most widely used wax in lipsticks. Its melting point of 63 degrees Celcius prevents the lipstick from losing its shape under normal conditions. Dyes like 4′, 5′-dibromofluorescein and 2′, 4′, 5′, 7′-tetrabromofluorescein (Orange No.
5 and Red No. 22, respectively) are the most commonly used dyes in lipstick, according to Emsley. They are composed of “fluorescein, itself a yellow dye, which, when reacted with bromine, adds two atoms of bromine and turns orange.
” (Emsley 5). When the lipstick is applied to the lips, the dye reacts with the amino groups (two hydrogens bonded to a nitrogen) of the protein found in skin. This reaction slightly alters the lipstick color. Emsley later describes a similar reaction when discussing the mechanisms of instant tans. Dihydroxyacetone, or DHA, is the safest and most effective commercial tanner. It is added in small proportions to instant tanning lotions. When applied, it reacts with skin proteins to form melanoidins, compounds that make the skin appear browner. Emsley opens his second chapter, “Vitality: Food for Thought” by destigmatizing the word fat.
The human body needs only around 25 grams of fat in the diet each day in order to take in an adequate amount of fat-soluble vitamins (like vitamins A, D, E, and K). We should aim “to take in twice as much unsaturated as saturated fat,” (Emsley 36). These two types of fat are distinguishable by the arrangement of the carbon atoms in their long carbon chains. In saturated fats, the carbon atoms are all joined together by single bonds, creating bond angles of 180 degrees between each carbon.
Each carbon has two hydrogen atoms attached to it, since carbon can only create four bonds. Since each carbon bonds to the highest number of hydrogen atoms possible, the molecule is said to be saturated with hydrogens, hence the name saturated fats. The streamlined shape of these saturated fat molecules makes it easy for them to pack densely together, so saturated fats are solid at room temperature. Unsaturated fats, however, contain at least one double bond between carbon atoms. The carbon atoms involved in the double bond can only have one hydrogen atom attached to each of them, in order to satisfy the rule that carbon can only form four bonds. The electron domains on each of those singular hydrogen atoms impact the molecular geometry of the fatty acid chain, causing the carbon to carbon bond angle to become less than 180 degrees where the double bond is present.
This creates a kink in that area of the molecule. The kink(s) present in unsaturated fat prevent the molecules from packing closely together, and as a result, unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature. This type of fat is easier for the body to break down, and it does not build up in artery walls. For those reasons, unsaturated fats are considered healthier than saturated ones. To begin the book’s third chapter, “Virility, Sterility, and Viagra”, Emsley explores how nitric oxide, (NO), a toxic gas, is actually essential to the human body.
NO is a free radical, meaning that it has an extra unpaired electron on its oxygen atom. The extra electron present on free radicals frequently removes hydrogen atoms from carbon to hydrogen bonds, damaging DNA and other important molecules in the body. However, NO is what Emsley describes as a “rare bird, a stable free radical,” (Emsley 76). It is now known that nitric oxide acts as a second messenger to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in order to relax the muscles of blood vessels throughout the body. When the coronary arteries surrounding the heart become partially constricted with fatty deposits, the heart muscle loses its supply of oxygen-rich blood and the patient begins to feel chest pains, or angina. To lessen the strain on the heart and widen the coronary arteries, nitric oxide must be introduced to supplement the body’s natural supply of the molecule.
My late grandfather was prescribed oral nitroglycerine tablets after he suffered his first heart attack in this fifties. Upon entering the body, nitroglycerine