An equivalent (symbol: officially equiv; unofficially but often Eq) is the amount of a substance that reacts with (or is equivalent to) an arbitrary amount (typically one mole) of another substance in a given chemical reaction. It is an archaic unit of measurement that was used in chemistry and the biological sciences (see Equivalent weight#In history). The mass of an equivalent is called its equivalent weight.

In a more formal definition, the equivalent is the amount of a substance needed to do one of the following:

By this definition, the number of equivalents of a given ion in a solution is equal to the number of moles of that ion multiplied by its valence. For example, consider a solution of 1 mole of NaCl and 1 mole of CaCl2. The solution has 1 mole or 1 equiv Na+, 1 mole or 2 equiv Ca2+, and 3 mole or 3 equiv Cl.

An earlier definition, used especially for chemical elements, holds that an equivalent is the amount of a substance that will react with 1 g (0.035 oz) of hydrogen, 8 g (0.28 oz) of oxygen, or 35.5 g (1.25 oz) of chlorine—or that will displace any of the three.

## In medicine and biochemistry

In biological systems, reactions often happen on small scales, involving small amounts of substances, so those substances are routinely described in terms of milliequivalents (symbol: officially mequiv; unofficially but often mEq or meq), the prefix milli- denoting a factor of one thousandth (10−3). Very often, the measure is used in terms of milliequivalents of solute per litre of solution (or milliNormal, where meq/L = mN). This is especially common for measurement of compounds in biological fluids; for instance, the healthy level of potassium in the blood of a human is defined between 3.5 and 5.0 mEq/L.

A certain amount of univalent ions provides the same amount of equivalents while the same amount of divalent ions provides twice the amount of equivalents. For example, 1 mmol (0.001 mol) of Na+ is equal to 1 meq, while 1 mmol of Ca2+ is equal to 2 meq.

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