Did you know that fatigue can happen at a cellular level? 

The mitochondria are the powerhouses or the batteries in our cells and these are necessary to drive all the cellular functions that take place in our bodies daily. When there is not enough charge in the batteries our bodies can suffer.

There are several thousand mitochondria in almost every cell in the body.

Their job is to convert compounds from the food we eat into energy and to oxygenate our cells. The mitochondria produce ninety percent of the energy that our bodies need to function.

In individuals with genetic forms of mitochondrial disease, degenerative diseases such as muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, and cancer can occur.

Many of us can still experience reduced mitochondrial capacity after illness or during times of stress and some of these symptoms include: 

  • Muscle weakness, muscle pain, exercise intolerance, poor muscle tone
  • Lactic acidosis (build-up of lactic acid)
  • Fatigue
  • Increased infections
  • Neurological problems such as migraines, stroke, seizures, brain fog
  • Digestive problems such as difficulty swallowing, reflux, cramping

Nutrients that are necessary to support the mitochondria include: 

  • COQ10 – this is an important nutrient for many processed in the body. It is found in higher concentrations in the heart, liver, kidneys, and pancreas and can often be depleted due to medication use.
  • B Vitamins – especially B1, B2, B6, B3 (niacin), biotin and folic acid are necessary for mitochondrial respiration and energy production
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid – this is a vital antioxidant compound that is necessary for cellular energy production. Our bodies usually produce enough if we are eating a balanced diet, however it can be useful at times to supplement with additional alpha lipoic acid. Natural sources include yeast, organ meats, broccoli, spinach, and potatoes.
  • Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NAD) – this is a coenzyme that helps to transport electrons and slows down the aging process. Niacin (Vit B3) is a precursor that provides some of the building blocks for NAD
  • L-Carnitine – this is an amino acid that helps to convert fat in the body to energy. It is important for proper brain and heart function as well as muscle movement.
  • L-Arginine – this is also an amino acid and is necessary to make nitric oxide which is a neurotransmitter that is necessary for optimal blood vessel function.
  • D-Ribose – this is a simple sugar that forms part of our DNA and is necessary for the body to make ATP, which is one of the primary energy sources of our cells. D-Ribose helps for energy recovery so can be used before and after exercise to help with muscle recovery. It can reduce lactic acid build-up and prevent prolonged muscle pain after exercise. In people with fatigue, it is useful to regenerate energy so can be taken regardless of whether you exercise or not. D-Ribose can also be helpful for individuals who struggle with chronic pain.

Daily activities that increase mitochondrial function include: 

  • Exercise – exercise increases the production of NAD and helps the body to produce more mitochondria.
  • Balanced diet – a balanced diet provides many of the nutrients and co-factors that are necessary to produce more mitochondria
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol and other substances that increase the toxic burden in the body as these can interfere with the metabolic processes and increase degenerative processes.

Listen to my interview with Brad Kirsten from Radio Cape Pulpit on 23 September 2021 to learn more. Listen to my next interview on Thursday at 7.45am