Feeling tired and run down? Girlfriend, I know how frustrating it can be! But don’t accept low energy levels. You can reclaim your youthful energy and conquer the world. 

You can wake up refreshed, take care of your home, dominate at work, and crush it at the gym. 

And you won’t need three cups of coffee to feel that way!

What do you need to do to have boundless energy? Taking care of your mitochondria is at the top of the list. 

Mitochondrial health is the next big thing to think about in regards to getting back your youthful energy. More and more research is published every day on this cutting-edge topic, which is why mitochondrial support is a big part of my treatment for many patients.  

Since mitochondrial dysfunction is one of the most common causes of fatigue, this is one of the most important blog posts you’ll ever read.  

Mitochondria that aren’t working well can cause all sorts of problems, including weight gain, insulin resistance, skin aging, and much more. I’ll talk more about those problems in a series of blogs coming soon. 

Meanwhile, in this article, I’m going to dive into the ways that mitochondrial dysfunction can cause your energy levels to drop—and what you can do about it. 


What Are Mitochondria and How Do They Boost Your Energy?

Mitochondria are fascinating little structures. They’re the powerhouses of your cells, manufacturing energy that powers your entire body. 

The cellular fuel that mitochondria make is known as adenosine triphosphate, or ATP for short. Without ATP, your cells couldn’t work and you wouldn’t be able to function. With enough ATP, you’ll have lots of youthful energy.

Within each mitochondrion, there is an assembly line that takes proteins, carbohydrates, and fats derived from food, breaks them down, and manufactures ATP. Every cell in the body needs energy (ATP) to do its job. The heart, brain, liver, muscles, and kidneys are high in mitochondria because these organs need lots of energy to work.

When your mitochondria are humming happily along, you have lots of energy and feel like you can take on the world. 


Symptoms of Mitochondrial Fatigue

So how do you know if weak mitochondria are the cause of your low energy or other health problems? These symptoms will clue you in:

  • Fatigue in general
  • Weakness or lack of endurance during exercise
  • Excessive body pains or muscle aches after exercise
  • Longer than average exercise recovery or feeling wasted the day or two after exercise
  • Weight gain, slow metabolism, insulin resistance
  • Aging skin and rapid wrinkling
  • General all-over body pain, muscle weakness (myopathy)
  • Brain fog
  • Migraines
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Difficult to cope with stress


Your Mitochondria During Aging

As you age, the mitochondria can break down and not work as hard. The number of mitochondria actually decreases during aging. This means mitochondria make less ATP, so the body doesn’t make enough fuel to keep it running, just like a car that runs out of gas.

If you want to see young mitochondria in action, watch children run around a room or in the park. They’re little bundles of energy, fueled by their youthful mitochondria. 

Unfortunately, mitochondrial problems due to aging cause your body to make too many reactive oxygen species (ROS), also known as free radicals. These chemicals can harm your cells, creating a vicious cycle of yet more damage to the mitochondria. In addition, too many ROS smothers the creation of new mitochondria and stops the body from getting rid of damaged mitochondria. 

So what does it mean for you when your mitochondria get messed up during aging?  It drops your energy levels and you feel too tired to get things done.      


Other Reasons for Mitochondrial Problems

Besides aging, other factors can make the mitochondria scream out for help. These include:

  • Alcohol
  • Antibiotics
  • Environmental toxins
  • Hereditary factors
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Inadequate nutrients
  • Not enough physical activity
  • Overeating
  • Smoking
  • Statin drugs
  • Stress
  • Vegetable oils (high in omega-6 fatty acids)


How To Know If Your Mitochondria Are Healthy

Your functional medicine provider can order an organic acids test (OMX Metabolomics or the ION).  These tests will tell you whether your mitochondria are happy.

Your functional medicine doctor can also order a test to measure your telomere length. Telomeres are caps at the end of your chromosome—like the ends of shoelaces that keep them from unraveling. 

Telomeres become shorter and shorter with age. Your numerical age may not be the age your cells think they are. By measuring telomere length, you can get a good idea about your cellular age. 

Finally, testing adrenal function can let you know if your cortisol levels are off. High cortisol can block mitochondria function. 


A Secret To Keeping Your Mitochondria Healthy

One of the best ways to give your mitochondria some TLC? Make sure you have plenty of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+). 

Your mitochondria need NAD+ to make ATP and to fuel your energy levels. On the other hand, low levels of NAD+ can damage the mitochondria and make you feel like you just ran a marathon even if you haven’t gotten out of bed for the day. 

Low NAD+ also shortens your telomeres. Think of NAD+ as the “gas pump” you need to fill your cells’ “gas tank.”

Between the ages of 40 and 50, NAD+ levels drop to 50% of what they were when you were younger. In some organs and tissues, your NAD+ levels can drop by as much as 90% to 100%. This freefall in NAD+ means you’re not making as much ATP, which makes you feel like you’re running on empty.

Because your body needs NAD+ to make ATP, making sure you’re getting enough NAD+  ensures that all areas of your body are healthy including the adrenals, thyroid, brain, and circulatory system. For example, NAD+ protects the neurons in the brain by restoring mitochondrial health. This keeps your brain from feeling worn out. 

How do you raise NAD+ levels? You can take one of several different types of NAD+ supplements. I take it in a collagen product called Thorne Collagen Plus. It’s also available as liposomal NAD+. Many people use either a nicotinamide riboside or nicotinamide mononucleotide supplement to boost NAD+ levels. 


Other Mitochondrial Support Supplements

Many other supplements support mitochondrial health. Be sure to work with your functional medicine provider to find out which nutrients you really need. By ordering the right tests, your doctor can create a personalized and more effective protocol that includes supplements for mitochondrial support.

Here are the most common and effective mitochondria support supplements:  

  • Adaptogens – These are botanicals that help the body cope with stress. Stress can cause cortisol levels to go through the roof, and high cortisol is one of the mitochondria’s worst enemies. Stress also shortens telomeres.
  • Alpha lipoic acid – An antioxidant that encourages ATP production.
  • Coenzyme Q10 – An antioxidant that plays a crucial role in mitochondria’s ability to make ATP. CoQ10 is one of the mitochondria’s best friends. It stops the mitochondria from making too many reactive oxygen species (ROS). CoQ10 is the cornerstone of a mitochondrial support program.
  • Curcumin – Improves mitochondrial health by reducing inflammation.
  • Probiotics – Probiotics improve mitochondrial function and your body’s ability to make energy.
  • Carnitine – This amino acid boosts fatty acid metabolism in the mitochondria. Fatty acids are building blocks for ATP. 
  • Glutathione – An antioxidant involved in mitochondrial health. 
  • Magnesium – This mineral acts as an antioxidant in mitochondria, blocking the production of too many ROS and improving mitochondrial dysfunction. An organic acid test can tell you which type of magnesium your mitochondria need the most—for example, magnesium citrate.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids – These are an important component of the mitochondrial membrane.
  • Vitamin B12 – Your body needs enough of this vitamin to make energy.
  • Vitamin C – An antioxidant that promotes the production of carnitine, which in turn keeps your mitochondria in tip-top shape.
  • Zinc – Stops the mitochondria from making too many ROS.


Getting Rid of Chronic Fatigue and Mitochondrial Dysfunction

As a functional medicine provider, I can work with you to answer your question: “Why am I always so tired?” I’ll order the proper testing to see if your mitochondria need a boost. Then I’ll let you know what supplements to take and other steps that can get rid of your fatigue and make you more productive and full of energy.

I’ve successfully used this approach in many patients. That’s why I invite you to reach out to me for a free 15-minute troubleshooting call to find out the best course of action for you. We’ll start there, and if you come on board as a client, I’ll order a full lab work-up. 

The goal? To boost your energy levels, improve the health of your mitochondria, and give you the stamina to tackle life’s daily challenges.