How Is Oxygen Used In The Human Body? The Complex Journey, Explained

Despite taking an average of 17,000 breaths each day, breathing is a process we all do without much thought or effort. However, the way your body processes the oxygen you need for survival is much more complex than you may imagine.

The TEDEd video below provides a detailed explanation of the journey oxygen endures as it travels through your entire body.

Read: Breaking Point: How Long Can Someone Go Without Breathing?​

In order to survive, all of your cells need oxygen. The complx process of getting your body the oxygen it needs is a collaborative effort among your gut, brain, bones, lungs, blood, and heart.

As you unconsciously breathe in, the air around you enters through your nose and mouth, then begins on its roller coaster ride. The transportation route relies on red blood cells which contain oxygen-binding molecules called hemoglobin. Every second, your body churns about 2.5 million blood cells, so the oxygen sent to your lungs has a vast amount of transportation.

But, before getting to your lungs, your brain needs to initiate breathing by sending a message through your nervous system to your muscles, diaphragm, and ribs, which ultimately allows your lungs to expand.

Once your lungs process the oxygen, the oxygen-rich cells are carried to the cardiovascular network, which is a massive collection of blood vessels throughout your body. The network is so lengthy, that if stretched out, it would be able to wrap around the Earth several times. Lastly, thanks to your body's powerhouse known as your heart, the blood cells are propelled through your body to every single cell. 

For a more comprehensive look at oxygen's journey, check out TEDEd’s video above.  

See also: Oxygen Injected Into The Blood Via Microparticles May Soon Rescue Patients From Hypoxemia

Breathing In Extra Oxygen Shows Promise In Fighting Cancer And Boosting Immune System: But Will It Work In Humans?​

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