Oxygen is essential to the body in a number of life-supporting reactions that occur constantly. The body uses oxygen in glycolysis and ATP reactions, which is the primary source of energy that humans use. If you were to go without it for these reactions, waste products such as lactic acid would build up, causing muscle soreness you may experience during heavy exercise. But this is not to say that it is not essential for the body to operate. Without it, brain and heart functions would cease. Brain damage occurs if the brain is deprived of oxygen after 3 minutes.
Oxygen is the last electron recipient in the electron transport chain which is a major source of energy via ATP that our body uses. Without oxygen there is no final electron acceptor and therefore no premise for creating energy in the body. This is why without oxygen, the body would quickly die.
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