Why Am I So Tired?
Your Mighty Mitochondria
Understanding what your mitochondria do and how to enhance its functioning is one of the most important things one can do to for health improvement. Fatigue is the number one complaint of people today. The inability of the body’s mitochondria to function properly is a primary reason for fatigue. This is why properly operating mitochondria are absolutely essential to good health and vitality. They are part of every cell and can occupy up to 50% of the cell’s volume. Most importantly, they are responsible for up to 90% of the body’s energy. Mitochondria are the energy producing powerhouses of the body. If one’s mitochondria are faltering, energy suffers. If energy suffers severely and for a long period of time, death is the consequence.
The aging process is directly influenced by one’s mitochondria. A person’s biological age may differ than actual age depending on several biomarkers. Those biomarkers are driven largely by the functioning of the mitochondria. We all know people who look younger and people who look older than they actually are. Their looks are a statement as to how healthy their mitochondria are. What’s exciting about this is the fact that we have enormous control over our aging process.
Mitochondria require two main components in order for energy to be produced, oxygen from breathing and glucose and fat derived from food. Simply, mitochondria use these ingredients to make ATP (adenosine diphosphate), which becomes the energy carrier within the body. This process requires that these necessities get inside the mitochondria for use. It is important to note that this process also produces free radicals that if not neutralized can be damaging to cells. These free radicals can expedite the aging process. The less energy that is produced and the more free radicals that are generated explain a lot why most people don’t feel well and are on a fast track to rapid aging and ill health.
Strategies to increase energy production and decrease free radical production include the following: make sure the body has the proper nutrients needed for energy (ATP) to be made, having enough antioxidants to negate free radical production, and eating sensibly. Eating sensibly means don’t over eat and don’t eat when the body doesn’t need fuel, for example late at night. Of course the diet should be as natural as possible as a bad diet can rob the body of energy. It takes more than it gives. The same goes for a lack of digestion of whatever the diet is. If it is not digested properly it is not useable to the body. Digestion is energy intensive at best. I’ve heard many people remark they get so tired after eating they wish they didn’t have to eat. The appropriate digestive enzymes can be of enormous benefit.
Exercise plays a huge role in mitochondrial health. For one thing, regular exercise actually increases their number within the cell. As their numbers increase and they become more efficient, energy increases. Many people are tired because they don’t exercise. Often, they say they are too tired to do so. My recommendation is to start very slow, say five minutes at a time. If one is doing some exercise, try adding five minutes to it. Sometimes by just starting an exercise program people feel an immediate increase in their energy levels.
Some of the nutrients that the mitochondria need in order to function optimally are:
1. Omega 3 fatty acids. Natural fats are essential. Unnatural fats (hydrogenated) should be absolutely avoided as they can interfere with mitochondrial function. Fish oil from salmon, krill oil, and walnut oil are good omega 3 fatty acids.
2. CoQ10. Made in the liver and essential for muscle energy. In a Japanese study 93% of severe cardiomyopathy patients recovered with 300 mg. of CoQ10 daily (the heart is a muscle). Many drugs (statins, for example) interfere with the body making it.
3. L-Carnitine. Transports fatty acids inside the mitochondria.
4. B vitamins like thiamine, riboflavin, B6 and folic acid.
5. Alpha-lipoic acid. Necessary for ATP production. Also an excellent anti-oxidant
6. Magnesium. Necessary for over 350 metabolic pathways in the body and necessary for the body to make glutathione, the most potent ant-oxidant.
7. D-ribose. Also necessary for ATP production. Many heart patients benefit from its use.
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Dr. Dennis K. Crawford
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