Mitochondria and Fatigue! Probably not something you immediately think of when you are feeling fatigued.
Often the first things people think of when feeling fatigued, is that they are low in iron. But unless you have a blood test to confirm this, I always caution against supplementing. If you take iron and don’t need it, it can increase your levels of inflammation.
Being fatigued can be associated with your body not producing enough energy. You have a little pocket rocket inside all your cells called the Mitochondria. This is where your energy cycle happens. Our energy production takes place inside the mitochondria, where it produces a product called ATP. ATP is your energy currency and is needed for most metabolic reactions, including muscle movement.
You can think of the Mitochondria like a cell phone, that is it needs recharging all the time. And like a phone, as we age the battery function diminishes. Ageing alone decreases our ability to produce ATP (our energy enzyme) which happens in the mitochondria, and by the time we are 30 our production drops by 10% for every decade.
This is called Mitochondria Dysfunction, which is different to Mitochondrial Disease. Mitochondrial Disease is when the energy production cycle no longer works, and this is often a rare genetic condition. Mitochondrial Dysfunction is when the ability to produce energy has been impaired ie: the battery needs a charge.
There are over 300 conditions that are associated with mitochondria dysfunction, and some of those involve the following:
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Fatty Liver Conditions
- Neurocognitive decline
- Neurobehavioral and psychiatric diseases, such as autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar and mood disorders
- Neurodegeneration such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease.
- Cardiovascular disease
- Autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus erythematosus
- Thyroid Conditions
- Viral Susceptibility (Immune function)
- Type 2 Diabetes
As you can see there are many conditions associated with the Mitochondria. But what can you do to help?
One of the main nutrients our mitochondria need to produce energy is a product called Niacin also know NAD-Nicotinamide or vitamin B3. If we are deficient in the nutrient the body will sequester large amounts of tryptophan to make tiny amounts of Niacin, and then hello mood and sleep disorders on top of no energy!
There are also some common medications that can impact on the Niacin production, and they include:
- Metformin (common for diabetes)
- Anxiety Medications
- Chemo drugs
- Statins (reduce Co-Q10 production)
As well as Niacin, some other nutrients often used to help with ATP production are CoQ10, Lipoic Acid and L-Carnitine.
Mitochondrial dysfunction is directly related to fatigue, and therefore I don’t always go for iron when assessing this in my clients. But nor would I run out and buy any of the supplements I have mentioned. You need a proper assessment and quality supplements to have impact.
You can make some changes via diet though to make sure you have plenty of antioxidant type foods. Some specific foods relate to:
- Niacin – Almonds, beef, chicken, eggs, fish, legumes, LIVER, peanuts, salmon, sunflower seeds
- Lipoic Acid – Broccoli, brussel sprouts, peas, liver, potatoes, spinach and tomatoes
- Co-Q10 – Eggs, fatty fish, organ meats, nuts and poultry
As you can see most of these foods are animal products so what about vegans? Nutritional Yeast is usually recommended as it contains the nine essential amino acids and is fortified with all the b vitamins.
So if you are suffering with fatigue and iron is not the culprit you may need to consider your Mitochondria!
You can also check in and have a free 15 minute discovery chat to discover more.
Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Chronic Disease: Treatment With Natural Supplements https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4566449/
Osiecki, Henry. 2014. The Nutrient Bible 9th Edition. 9th Edition. Eagle Farm, Queensland: AG Publishing.