Energy - the currency of life
Adenosine triphosphate is the energy currency of life. It is the high-energy molecule that stores the energy we need to do everything we do. It is present in every cell, and essentially all the physiological mechanisms that require energy for operation come from the stored ATP.
As food in the cells is gradually oxidised, the released energy is used to re-form the ATP so that the cell always maintains a supply of this essential molecule. In animal systems, the ATP is synthesised in the the cells' energy factories called the mitochondria.
In order for the mitochondria to produce ATP, several nutrients are required. These include magnesium, malic acid, NAD, sufficient levels of oxygen and active forms of B vitamins. Deficiencies or imbalances in these ingredients have shown to exist in CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome), and FM (fibromyalgia) patients, which can cause the body to switch from oxygen-based metabolism to the less efficient anaerobic metabolism.
Mitochondrial failure results in poor supply of ATP, so cells go slow because they do not have the energy supply to function at a normal speed. This means that all bodily functions go slow. The body can only go at the rate at which the mitochondria can produce ATP. If the mitochondria goes slow, stamina is poor. With plenty of ATP the body can function with great energy and vitality.
Energy is made in a shunting action. ATP is made inside the mitochondria from ADP and has to be shunted across the mitochondrial membrane so the cell can use the energy in the ATP by converting it back to ADP. ADP then needs to be shunted back across the mitochondrial membrane. If this shunting reaction does not run smoothly, energy supply will be impaired. ATP recycles approximately every 10 seconds in a healthy person.
The reserves of ATP in cells are small. In the heart muscle cells for instance, there is only enough ATP to last about ten contractions, so the mitochondria have to be efficient at recycling ATP to keep the cell constantly supplied with energy. If the cell is not very efficient at recycling ATP, then the cell runs out of energy very quickly and this causes the symptoms of weakness and poor stamina.
In order to make new ATP, the body needs a sugar (D-ribose). Normally the body can manufacture this for itself from glucose, but if energy levels are very low it may be unable to synthesise this important sugar.
It normally takes a few days to make new ATP from D-ribose.
CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) and FM (fibromyalgia) have been associated with poor ATP metabolism.
If the CFS sufferer spends energy faster than the mitochondria can supply it, ATP is converted to ADP faster than it can be recycled and this means there is a build up of ADP. Some ADP is shunted into adenosine monophosphate (AMP) but this creates a problem because AMP cannot be recycled and is lost in the urine.
If ATP levels drop as a result of the failure to recycle AMP fast enough, the body then has to make new ATP. ATP can be made quickly from the sugar D-ribose, if available, but it takes one to four days to make D-ribose from glucose and in the meantime fatigue sets in.
If the body is very short of ATP, it can make a very small amount of ATP directly from glucose by converting it into lactic acid, then the body switches to anaerobic metabolism. This results in two problems. First, lactic acid quickly builds up, especially in muscles, causing pain, aching and soreness, and secondly, no glucose is available in order to make D-ribose, so new ATP cannot be made when the body is run down, and recovery can take days.
An interesting point here is that caffeine can actually recycle AMP, although apparently not very quickly. Nevertheless, this explains one of the reasons why tea and coffee are such good pick me ups for low energy periods.
Damage to cellular mitochondria can impair the abilities of cells to produce high-energy molecules and this occurs naturally with ageing.
Fructose, found in fruit and from other sources, can interfere with energy metabolism in some individuals. Refer the notes on fructose about this problem.The body's electrolyte balance
As we age, the levels of ions or electrolytes in the interstitial fluids gradually decline, it's like a battery losing its charge and growing weak when its own electrolytes decline and go off balance. In the body, levels of the electrolytes potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium can decline or frequently become unbalanced, especially with reduced kidney function. It is essential to try to maintain healthy levels of these minerals to sustain good health and lasting energy levels.Malic acid
Malic acid is a natural substance found in fruit and vegetables, one of the richest sources being apples.
It is also naturally produced in your body's cells where large amounts of it are formed and then eventually broken down again on a daily basis.
It is classified as an alpha hydroxy acid and possesses many health related benefits such as boosting immunity, maintaining oral health, reducing the risk of poisoning from a build up of toxic metals and promoting a younger and smoother skin. However, one of its most significant benefits lies in its ability to stimulate metabolism and increase energy production. This action is linked to the important role it plays in a process known as the Kreb's cycle, named after Sir Hans Krebs, a german-born british biochemist.
The Kreb's cycle is vital to our existence and without it energy production would grind to a halt. In particular, malic acid's involvement in the Kreb's cycle means it plays an important role in improving overall muscle performance, reversing muscle fatigue following exercise, reducing tiredness and poor energy levels, as well as improving mental clarity. These actions can make it a beneficial treatment for sufferers of fibromyalgia, which involves muscle pain, joint tenderness, poor energy levels and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), which produces similar symptoms.
Malic acid also has an oxygen sparing effect.
Studies show that many patients with fibromyalgia or with chronic fatigue have low magnesium and serotonin levels. Taking magnesium with malic acid seems to have a much more pronounced effect on muscle fatigue. Magnesium is a key mineral cofactor for many anaerobic as well as aerobic reactions that generate energy, and like malic acid, has an oxygen-sparing effect.
It is essential for the cell's mitochondria to function normally, being involved in both the production and utilisation of ATP. Biotin is also involved in the Kreb's cycle and energy producing processes contained in the mitochondria.
Magnesium, Malic Acid, Vitamins B1, B2, B6 and Biotin, Coenzyme Q10, D-ribose, Phosphate, Acetyl L-Carnitine, Caffeine.
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