Any of a class of organic compounds that contain a carbonyl group (CO; see functional group) in which the carbon atom is bonded to at least one hydrogen atom. Many have characteristic odours. Oxidation (see oxidation-reduction) of aldehydes yields acids; reduction produces alcohols. They participate in many chemical reactions and readily undergo polymerization into chains containing tens of thousands of the monomer molecule. The combination of aldehydes (e.g., formaldehyde) with other molecules results in several familiar plastics. Many aldehydes are large-scale industrial materials, useful as solvents, monomers, perfume ingredients, and intermediates. Many sugars are aldehydes, as are several natural and synthetic hormones and compounds such as retinal (a derivative of vitamin A, important in vision) and pyridoxal phosphate (a form of vitamin B).
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