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What does blood do?

The blood is a vitally important fluid for the

body. It is thicker than water, and feels a bit
sticky. The temperature of blood in the
body is 38°C, which is about one degree
higher than body temperature. How much
blood you have depends mostly on your
size and body weight. A man who weighs
about 70kg has about 5 to 6 liters of blood
in his body. Blood has three important

1. Transportation
The blood transports oxygen from the lungs to the cells of the body, where it is
needed for metabolism. The carbon dioxide produced during metabolism is carried
back to the lungs by the blood, where it is then exhaled. Blood also provides the
cells with nutrients, transports hormones and removes waste products, which the
liver, the kidneys or the intestine, for example, then get rid of.

2. Regulation
The blood helps to keep certain values of the body in balance. For instance, it
makes sure that the right body temperature is maintained. This is done through
blood plasma, which can absorb or give off heat, as well as through the speed at
which the blood is flowing. When the blood vessels expand, the blood flows more
slowly and this causes heat to be lost. When the environmental temperature is low
the blood vessels can contract, so that as little heat as possible is lost.

3. Protection
If a blood vessel is damaged, certain parts of the blood clot together very quickly
and makes sure that a scrape, for instance, stops bleeding. This is how the body is
protected against losing blood. White blood cells and other messenger substances
also play an important role in the immune system.

Components of Blood

Blood is 55% blood plasma and about 45% different types of blood cells. The blood
plasma is a light yellow liquid. Over 90% of blood plasma is water, while less that
10% is dissolved substances, mostly proteins. Blood plasma also contains
electrolytes, vitamins and nutrients such as glucose and amino acids.
Red Blood Cells
Over 99% of the solid particles
present in blood are red blood
cells. There are 4 to 6 million
red blood cells per cubic
millimeter of blood. Red blood
cells are biconcave shaped
discs. They can bend easily to
squeeze through narrow blood
vessels. Red blood cells have
no nucleus. Each red blood cell
contains hemoglobin, which can A platelet lies between a red blood cell, at left, and a
transport oxygen. In tiny blood white blood cell at right.
vessels in the lung the red blood
cells pick up oxygen from inhaled air and carry it through the bloodstream to all parts
of the body. Cells need oxygen for metabolism, which also creates carbon dioxide
as a waste product. The red blood cells then pick up the carbon dioxide and
transport it back to the lungs. Red blood cells have a life cycle of about 120 days.

White Blood Cells

White blood cells play an important role in the immune system. Here different blood
cells have different functions: some fight intruders such as bacteria, viruses,
parasites or fungi themselves and render them harmless. Others produce
antibodies, which specifically target foreign objects or germs like viruses. Different
types of white blood cells are classified according to how their nucleus is shaped
and how they operate. Neutrophils squeeze through capillary walls and swallow
back particles, while Lymphocytes stick onto foreign microorganisms in the blood.
White blood cells have a cell nucleus and do not contain hemoglobin. Most of the
white blood cells have a lifespan of only a few hours to several days.

Blood Platelets
Platelets are much smaller than the red blood cells. They are cell fragments that
circulate in the blood and promote clotting. If a blood vessel is damaged, the healing
process begins with blood platelets binding closely together on the inside of the
damaged wall of the blood vessel. This causes a plug to form quickly that closes the
wound temporarily. Blood Platelets usually live only 5 to 9 days.