LOW ENERGY? SUPPORT MITOCHONDRIAL FUNCTION
Ever wondered how the food we eat gives us energy? Strap yourself in for the science class that will actually benefit you.
If you often find yourself drained, exhausted or just simply can’t be bothered, and you’ve ruled out all the obvious reasons behind why you might be feeling this way, supporting mitochondrial function and it's three stages of energy production may be the missing puzzle piece.
Note: other reasons why you might be feeling as if you’re constantly running low on energy include, low iron, B12 or vitamin D, thyroid function, blood sugar imbalances, hormone imbalances, adrenal issues, to name the main culprits.
WTF IS A MITOCHONDRIA?
In our cells, we have an organelle called the mitochondria.
Mitochondria are, simply put, your cell’s power station. They take the glucose and fat from your diet (and in some cases, protein too), works a whole lotta magic and converts them into ATP, AKA the body’s energy currency.
But let's dive a little deeper into the ‘whole lotta magic’ aspect of things, as this really helps us get to grip on the connection between certain nutrients and optimal energy levels.
STEP ONE – GLYCOLYSIS AND BETA-OXIDATION
- Glucose enters the mitochondria and gets split into pyruvate.
- Glycolysis is the process of splitting the glucose molecule up and occurs in the cytosol (the space within a cell that isn’t occupied by its organelles/ cell organs).
- Glucose is transformed into two molecules of a substance called pyruvate. Energy is released through the splitting of the glucose as is either directly released or trapped, which we call NADH. For this splitting of the glucose, we need magnesium and B3
- When we metabolised a fat through beta-oxidation, we chop the fatty acid chain down into the appropriate component needed to enter the next phase, acetyl CoA. For this, we need vitamins B2 and B3 and sulphur.
- Back to glucose, pyruvate will also be converted to acetyl CoA and pushed into the mitochondria by coenzyme a (synthesised from B5).
STEP TWO – THE KREBS CYCLE
- Once acetyl CoA is in the mitochondria, trapped energy from NADH is released by metabolising acetyl CoA. For this, we need magnesium, iron and B1, B2 and B3. Whilst energy is released, we also trap more in the form of FADH.
- The kerb cycle is also called the citric acid cycle, so if you see supplements such as magnesium citrate, it will be bound to citric acid and thus, the preferred form to aid in the Krebs cycle. A high accumulation of heavy metals in the body can inhibit the cycle from performing optimally.
STEP THREE – THE ELECTRON TRANSPORT CHAIN
- Finally, four enzymes work there way through the trapped energy (NADH and FADH) within the mitochondria and turn it into ATP (energy!). Each enzyme complex relies on specific nutrients to aid it in doing its job.
- Iron and Sulphur are needed for the first complex, the antioxidant CoQ10 is required for the second and the third and fourth depend on iron and copper.
- The electron transport chain is also fuelled by sufficient oxygen levels, really the most simple part of it all. Energy production requires you to breathe!
SO, LET'S RECAP.
If you’re still here, you’ve seen how dependant each phase is on particular nutrients to aid in the production of energy. We’ve already namedropped the main game players, but here’s a reminder:
To specifically support mitochondria health, glutathione, a potent anti-oxidant and amino acid can be useful, along with alpha-lipoic acid. Vitamin C and E are also required.
Similarly, adaptogenic herbs and supporting pathways of detoxification and elimination (the liver and the bowel), help to prevent toxic load build-up with may compromise mitochondrial health.
Furthermore, consuming adequate sources of complete protein ensure that you’re getting a full range of amino acids, necessary for each phase as well.
If you think that a little extracellular love may be beneficial to your energy levels (its also the key to anti-ageing, win-win), we suggest starting with diet and ensure you’re consuming a wide range of different plants daily, adequate high-quality protein from both animal and plant sources.
Ensure that you’re able to absorb the nutrients from your food optimally by supporting your gut health and if you’re looking for some extra help in the form of supplements, we’ve popped our favourites below.
SHOP THE STORY
glow market and the content provided are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material on glow market and The Scoop is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your doctor and/ or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programs.