Discussion- Optimizing Energy through Diet, Lifestyle and Supplementation
Updated: Feb 21, 2021
This article is brought to you by Jessica Doyle RN, CNTP of Nutritional Health Solutions
Didn’t we all just love high school biology learning about the cell, mitochondria and ATP production? Don’t worry… I definitely didn’t find all that information useful until I was an adult and realized that how I feel on a day-to-day basis had so much to do with these processes. Having enough energy (ATP) affects your ability to reach personal and professional goals, increases mood, and allows you to be the best parent/support person you can be. It might seem like “high energy” is a personality trait, but in reality the generation of ATP (energy) by the mitochondria inside our cells, as well as its’ storage and usage, is a biological process. We can identify factors that contribute to ATP generation, such as nutrient levels, and can enhance the production of ATP and your energy. In fact, one of the first symptoms people have when it comes to decreased nutrient intake is having less energy, which translates to diminished activity capacity, and lower mental stamina. The nutrients we get from food are the co-factors that enable these biochemical processes to occur, and gaps in nutrition can have widespread effects. Below we break down which supplements can give us that extra boost of energy and how diet and lifestyle practices can have a profound effect on our ability to produce ATP. We also talk about the difference between Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) and Optimal Daily Intake (ODI) when it comes to nutrients.
RDA vs. ODI
The RDA, which you have probably seen on package labels, stands for Recommended Daily Allowance. In nutrition we use this along with ODI, which is short for Optimal Daily Intake. While the RDA has established minimum amounts of nutrients to prevent diseases like scurvy and rickets, the ODI label considers the intake that allows us to function optimally. While too much of any nutrient can be negative, most people live in a sub-optimal level. This means that while you aren’t technically deficient, you may present with general symptoms such as fatigue, poor mood, joint pain, insomnia, or nervousness. Optimizing your nutrition leads to increased vitality, endurance, and mental performance.
B Vitamins – While B5 is correlated with the most common types of energy dysfunction, B1, B2 and B3 also play important roles. Seeds, wild-caught fish, avocados, spinach, and broccoli are good sources. Supplementation with a high-quality B-vitamin Complex may also be a good idea. Some may benefit from a Methylated version of folate which allows for greater availability in the body.
CoQ10 – We see this nutrient advertised everywhere from energy supplements to anti-aging products, and for good reason. CoQ10 plays a foundational role in the production of ATP (energy molecules) and serves as powerful antioxidant to decrease free radicals. CoQ10 works in conjunction with the above mentioned B5. CoQ10 can be found naturally in meat, poultry, and nuts.
Carnitine – Carnitine, found in red meat, also plays a large part in energy production and is found in highest concentrations in cardiac and skeletal muscle tissue due to the increased energy demands. Carnitine’s function in energy production is optimized by a diet with balanced Omega 3 to 6, so make sure to pick grass-fed, organic red meat.
Magnesium – While magnesium has vital roles in hundreds of metabolic reactions, one of its most important roles is in energy production and is used several times in the process, including coupling to ATP in transport. Production of ATP is dependent on magnesium’s role in the breakdown and metabolism of carbohydrates and fats, which is why we can see many issues resolving when we optimize magnesium. Magnesium can be found naturally in nuts, avocados, and leafy greens like spinach and kale. Magnesium is a common supplement as most Americans aren’t getting enough through diet. There are different forms that work in various ways in the body, so let me know if you would like help in deciding which form would benefit you most.
DIET AND LIFESTYLE PRACTICES
Exercise – Physical activity increases the health of mitochondria leading to greater ATP production and is one of the ways we can counter the natural decrease of mitochondrial function in aging – more on this next month in the Anti-Aging article.
Intermittent Fasting and Caloric Restriction – Believe it or not, one the factors for decreased mitochondrial health and ATP production is caloric overload – like an engine that got flooded with gas, a person who is eating more calories than they use can suffer from fatigue and have a greater risk of developing health issues.
Sugar Consumption – High levels of glucose (sugar) and insulin are negatively correlated with ATP production and mitochondrial health. Foods such as refined carbohydrates, sugar and fructose are especially associated with this as they tend to have a greater affect on high blood sugar and insulin resistance.
Toxic Exposure – Not only does exposure to toxins such as pesticides, herbicides, nitrates and heavy metals decrease the efficiency of our cells to create energy (ATP), but also uses up our extra ATP to process these toxins out of our body. Filtering water and buying organic foods goes a long way to reduce your toxic exposure.
Relaxation – Relaxation activities including meditation, prayer, and yoga are positively correlated with ATP production and mitochondrial resiliency. Actively seeking out opportunities for relaxation and appropriately processing stress is critical components in healing almost every common chronic condition that we see in our country.
Energy and the transfer of energy is equal to life, while decreases in energy and dysfunctions in production is connected to immunological disease, cancer, neurological issues, increased rate of aging and metabolic diseases like obesity and diabetes. By optimizing our energy production we find optimal wellness. On the other hand, if we impair ATP production and mitochondrial function we will see a decline in our overall health.
One of my practice’s most popular diet plans is aimed at supporting mitochondrial health and ATP production. In my next article I will discuss anti-aging nutrition and the best supplements for aging gracefully. If you have a topic you’d like me to write on, please feel free to reach out to Matt or myself. If you want more information on nutrition for optimal health and vitality, or if you need help purchasing quality supplements and/or dosing you can contact me directly at Jessica@NutritionalSolutionsOnline.com. The top supplement brands I recommend are Orthomolecular, Klaire Labs, Douglas Labs and Vital Nutrients, most of which are third party verified for purity and are pharmaceutical grade. You can also shop on my practitioner page at FullScript by going to https://us.fullscript.com/welcome/jdoyle.