Mitochondrial ATP

Maximizing ATP through Mitochondrial Capacity Increase

Lifestyle tweaks and a little planning will help reduce fatigue and give you more oomph for everyday activities.

As we all know, our energy levels quickly begin to decline as we age. Other factors such as illness, poor diet, side effects of medications, and/or disability can accelerate this depletion in energy, so what can we do to prevent these telltale signs of aging? Although the true to anti-aging has yet to be discovered, there are many things we can do to slow down this process; one of them being to increase ATP production through improved mitochondrial function.

What is Mitochondiral Function and ATP?

The most important function mitochondria play is to extract the energy that is stored in the chemical bonds of nutrients then transform it into energy the cells can use. This form of energy is called ATP (adenosine triphosphate), and mitochondria are responsible for around 90 of all ATP production.

When mitochondria function is optimal, cells are fueled efficiently everything runs smoothly. But when mitochondria are dysfunctional, they start to accumulate damage and disrupt cellular processes.

Mitochondrial dysfunction as a result of damage is one of the main hallmakrs of againg. When ATP production in our mitochondria is not functioning properly, especially in the the electron transport chain, the production of byproducts known as reactive oxygen species (ROS) increases, and this can be damaging to mitochondria in high amounts. Once this process starts it triggers a snowball effect damage that can gradually affect other biological processes.

This happens naturally with age, but it’s possible to slow down this process by improving mitochondrial function, which in turn can improve their efficacy to avoid and/or repair damage.

How to Improve Mitochondiral Function and ATP Production

Low Fat and Calorie Restricted Diet

It’s no secret that living a healthier lifestyle can give you more energy overall. Adhering to a fasting or calorie-restricted diet that’s low in added sugars and processed foods can trigger several adaptions in mitochondria:

> Increased activity of the electron transport chain regulates the production of ROS and oxidative stress.

> Supports mitochondrial quality control, responsible for preventing and/or repairing damage.

> Promotes the renewal of the mitochondrial network by eliminating damaged mitochondria (autophagy) and producing new mitochondria (biogenesis).

Mitochondrial Nutrients

The are many nutrients that can help mitochondria function at optimal levels. These mitochondrial nutrients provide substrates and cofactors that support and/or stimulate mitochondrial enzyme activity. They strengthen cellular antioxidant defenses, destroy free radicals and protect mitochondria from oxidation. In addition they also protect and repair mitochondrial membranes.

The nutrients include B vitamins, ascorbic acid, α-tocopherol, selenium, L-carnitine, alpha-lipoic acid, coenzyme Q10, pyrroloquinoline quinone and creatine, melatonin, carnitine, nitrate, lipoic acid, and taurine. They can be found in supplements, or naturally in unprocessed foods such as fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, seafood, and meat.

Supporting NAD+

NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) is a molecule derived from vitamin B3 that is found in every cell in the body. NAD+ plays a key role in mitochondrial function: being the main molecule responsible for the delivery of the electrons extracted from food to the electron transport chain for ATP production.

Niacin, niacinamide, NMN, and NR can all boost levels NAD+ in the body. It can be found in certain foods and herbs such as parsley, onions, oranges, chamomile and bacopa.

Getting Enough Sleep

The body needs between seven to nine hours of sleep. This gives time for the brain, which accumulates a lot of metabolic waste due to its high metabolic rate, to get rid of toxins that can be harmful to mitochondria.

One of these molecules is called beta-amyloid, which at normal levels protects neurons and supports their activity. However, when excess amounts accumulate it quickly becomes harmful to neurons. This effects mitochondria function, which can trigger a neurodegenerative processes. Neuronal mitochondria power every function in the brain, therefore is extremely important to avoid this accumulation of toxic waste. 

Improper sleep can damage mitochondria, but this can easily be prevented by getting a good night’s sleep.

Managing Stress

Managing stress is another important factor in keeping mitochondria function working optimally. Stress can alter mitochondrial structure if stress hormones or other stress signals are detected, and this can be particularly harmful to the nervous, endocrine and immune system.

Exercise, and relaxation techniques are both great stress-relievers. In addition to visiting the gym, or jogging regularly, meditation, tai chi, yoga and breathing exercises can all help prevent the effects of stress. In fact, it has also been shown that regular practice of relaxation techniques can up-regulate genes associated with healthy mitochondrial function.


The best way to boost energy is to use energy. This puts a strain on the muscle mitochondria, which then signals for more additional energy. Muscle cells then respond by stimulating the produce of more mitochondria, which in turn, increases the respiratory capacity of muscles and thus their capacity to produce ATP.

With repeated use our muscles cells adapt over time and this is one of the reasons why performance improves with training. The same process that stimulates more mitochondria and ATP also leads to additional mitochondrial biogenesis and function, which is believed to help delay the signs of ageing.

It is recommended we perform at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week, and a minimum of two strength-training workouts per week. However, studies such those conduct by the British Journal of Sports Medicine, show that any amount of strength training that increased muscle mass had some benefit.


Not forgetting the deceiving, harmful effects of over exposure to the sun, enjoying the rays from the Earth’s lifeline isn’t just beneficial, it’s also essential for the production of vitamin D in our skin. Vitamin D is required for mitochondrial activity, and receiving the right amount improves mitochondrial oxidative capacity in muscles, in turn reducing oxidative stress and damage.

Heat Exposure

Heat acts as a mild stress signal that triggers a cells to promotes certain beneficial biological responses. Heat stress triggers a beneficial adaptive response in the mitochondria, which increases their functional capacity.

Effects have been shown in both skeletal and cardic muscle, which seems to corroborate studies reporting the benefits of sauna and steam room sessions; benefits including improved endurance performance, and a reduced risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.

Cold Exposure

Cold exposure in the form of cold showers or cryotherapy increases mitochondrial activity and mitochondrial biogenesis to keep us warm—exposure to cold triggers two types of tissues to respond by producing heat. One is the skeletal muscles, which make heat through shivering; the other is brown adipose tissue (BAT or brown fat), which has heat without shivering.

Shivering burns the cell’s fuel, ATP, to power the muscle contractions. This causes mitochondria to generate heat indirectly. BAT contains a molecule that can uncouple respiration from ATP production and can be used solely to produce heat. This causes mitochondria to generate heat directly.

Red/Near-Infrared Light Therapy

Red and near-infrared light can penetrate the skin to stimulate a molecule known as cytochrome C oxidase, which in turn creates mitochondria. This enhances the efficiency of the mitochondrial electron transport chain and the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate); the molecule responsible for the cells energy and storage.

These beneficial cellular responses improve cellular function and can help treat skin conditions, aid athletic recovery and repair, promote healthy hair, reduce the appearance of scars and heal wounds.

Lifestyle tweaks and a little planning will help reduce fatigue and give you more oomph for everyday activities.

Plan Prioritize Pace and Posture

Another good way to keep your mitochondria functioning at optimal levels and energy reserves topped up is to manage when and how much you exert yourself.

  • Plan – Although using energy is a great way to boost energy, going all out all the time isn’t going to be beneficial. Instead manage your chores and activities so things are spaced out, giving you time to relax and reenergise.
  • Prioritize – A vital part of planning is to prioritize. Be sure to put the most important chores and activities at the top of the list, and remember to dedicate full days to more intensive tasks so you have sufficient time to recover.
  • Pace – Another vital part of planning is how you pace yourself. Don’t overload your days with tasks, no matter how big or small. Allow enough time between tasks not only to rest the body but also the mind.
  • Posture – Whilst it may sound too simple to be very effective, maintaining proper posture throughout the day, in all tasks you undertake, enables to body to perform more efficiently which in turn requires you to expend less energy.
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