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ATP and Energy Loss

(What's really behind the "fatigue")

By Kim Boyle


First, let's briefly dive into how energy is actually made. In the cell, the mitochondria is working to make ATP (energy) It has 5 steps to work through before ATP is made. **All the steps are important, but the last two are the most significant especially given the current health climate. I'll explain,** at the fourth step is complex 4. (Cytochrome C oxidase) Basically the electrons are handed to the oxygen molecule, (working their way through copper) so that water can be made. This process creates the precursor to ATP called ADP.

In complex 5 Magnesium is inserted and phosphate is added. (Called ATP synthase) The body cannot 'see' or use ATP unless it's holding a Magnesium Ion. To summarize, the energy made in the mitochondria is not usable unless Magnesium is present.

Fun Facts about Mitochondria

Mitochondria come from the cytoplasm of the ovum or egg cell. This means all of the mitochondria inside your body came from your mom!
Each cell has roughly 200 mitochondria multiplied by about 100 trillion cells in your body.
200 × 100 trillion = 2,000,000,000,000 energy making machines spinning at 9,000 revolutions per minute (to give you energy) that require Magnesium and bioavailable Copper.
Mitochondria make up about 10 percent of our body weight and produce about 90% of the energy our bodies need to survive.

What Causes Energy Loss?

To recap, without adequate Magnesium and bioavailable Copper, the transition from complex 4 to complex 5 simply cannot happen. Add that to excess Iron and it results in major ENERGY LOSS. Total ATP production loss is somewhere between 40-96% (sources on the topic vary)

Natural Chaos Within the Mitochondria

During the course of normal oxidative phosphorylation, roughly 1 percent to 3 percent of all oxygen reduced by mitochondria escape from the electron transport chain into the mitochondrial inner membrane and are converted into reactive oxygen species. (ROS) These ROS include hydrogen peroxide, superoxide, and the hydroxyl radical. ROS attacks result in molecular defects found in proteins, lipids, and DNA.

Basically, these ROS are just unavoidable byproducts - the cost of doing business. Thankfully, the body has sophisticated means of neutralizing them and the inevitable damage that would ensue so long as **the** body is adequately mineralized.

A Proper Battlefield
Enzymes are the front line of defense against these threats. For example, hydrogen peroxide could easily continue on to become water if around Glutathione peroxidase or Catalase. If not and it is instead exposed to excess Iron it then becomes the hydroxyl radical - the most violent molecule in the human body. H202 (hydrogen peroxide) is destructive in its own right, but the hydroxyl radical reigns supreme.

Obviously, these enzymes are important so what do they require? Well, many (3,750+) of them require Magnesium. The majority of them also require bio-available Copper. That means, if you are Magnesium deficient, as the majority of people are, then your body will have a difficult time meeting the demands of both enzyme and energy production.

Don't Forget the Fat
By now, most people are aware that the work done by Ancel Keys, PhD, concerning the link between fats and heart disease, has been thoroughly discredited. Keys released a statement in the New England Journal of Medicine basically saying that unless you're a rabbit, eating meat isn't going to cause heart disease nor plaque clogged arteries. That's because they actually used rabbits in their infamous studies. That's right - they used herbivores.

 • 1 unit of carbs = 32 ATP
 • 1 unit of fat = 140 ATP

Remember ATP = energy
Fat, as an energy source, happens over a longer period of time. 

Think of sugar as a match. It ignites quickly and dissipates nearly just as fast.

Fat is more like a smoldering log, it'll keep you warm for hours.

Another thing to keep in mind is that one molecule of sugar requires 54 molecules of magnesium to process it! We all know how important Magnesium is for enzymatic responses and energy production.. 

The Liver - Yes, the Liver
Supporting a healthy liver is paramount due to  the amount of functions the liver completes including detoxification, immune support, and breaking down the food we eat so that it may be used to create energy. In fact, we would not survive one day without a functioning liver.

Also, the liver plays an important role in nutrient storage. It is generally the first organ to become Iron toxic because of that very reason.  


Support for the liver is fairly straightforward. We should seek to cease consumption of anything that puts unnecessary strain on the liver. That includes heavy duty detoxes. This is especially important for livers that are already compromised. Along with lessoning the load that the liver has to deal with, focus should be on gentle detoxification and prompt re-mineralization.

 • Fun Fact: the liver can actually regrow itself. The liver is the only visceral organ that possesses the remarkable capacity to regenerate. As little as 25% of the original liver mass can regenerate back to its full size!

Maximize Adrenal Function
In the search for optimal energy production there is one last significant stop. The adrenal glands are an integral piece of the puzzle. Their importance lies within their functions. This includes regulation of stress, fighting disease, and combating fatigue. They modulate the functioning of every tissue, organ and gland in your body to maintain homeostasis during stress and keep you alive. They also have important effects on the way you think and feel. The adrenals produce hormones that regulate the utilization of carbohydrates and fats, the conversion of fats and proteins into energy, the distribution of stored fat, blood sugar regulation, proper cardiovascular function, and gastrointestinal function. They also play an important role in male and female sex hormones. 


Fatigued adrenal symptoms include but not limited to - diabetes, weight gain, low sex drive, inability to regulate stress, and memory loss.

The goal is to provide mineral support to the adrenals and lower the amount of stress placed upon them. Keep in mind that stressors can be both nutritional and/or chemical based in nature as well as environmental and/or metaphysical in origin. Basically this means that, to a certain extent, your body sees little to no difference between damage being caused by an injury, a nutritional deficiency or the destruction brought on by high amounts of psychological stress. (the loss of a loved one - for example) The adrenals face burn out when they are exhausted by constant stress response demands.

Decrease Stress Levels
Stress not only affects various organs and their natural abilities, but it also burns minerals regardless of where said stress is stemming from. In a heroic attempt to "make due" the human body does a phenomenal job in sub-optimal conditions. However, utilizing these methods comes at a cost. Magnesium, which may as well be referred to as the 'currency of life', is rapidly spent in a frenzied effort to survive now at the cost of the future. Therefore, getting stress - ALL stress - under control is key in energy production. 

Iron - Oxidative Stress

Continuing on the topic of stress, one of the worst things you could possibly do is to flood the body with iron. Iron needs to be tightly regulated within the body, requiring FOX (ferroxidase) enzyme function to do so. 98% of Iron is recycled by the body so the daily dietary requirement is actually very low. 


To date, Iron is one of the most studied metals on the planet. I'll try to keep this brief, as this particular topic could easily become 20+ articles in itself. There is ample literature that has recorded the dangers involved in overloading on Iron. For example, cancerous breast tissue has an iron content at 5x the rate. Alzheimer's has routinely been linked to excess Iron in the brain. 


Not only does Iron create oxidative stress, but it has an affinity for damaged tissues. That means that it both causes damage and exasperates it. The number of Tfr1 (iron receptors) on cancerous cells is significantly higher than normal cells. 


Before rushing off to have your ferritin levels tested keep in mind that ferritin is an intracellular storage locker for Iron. That means it's found INSIDE the cell. Testing blood for ferritin levels is pointless. A more efficient gauge to ascertaining Iron levels is an understanding of Iron pathology alongside the obvious - if you've consumed daily iron sources larger than 1-2mg per day for any period of time without an equal attempt to eliminate excess iron stores. 


• Donating blood is a fantastic way to counteract stress caused by excess Iron. It prompts the body to relinquish Iron from tissues in order to create more Heme. For most people, blood donations don't just help the person receiving the blood. 

Some Things to Keep in Mind


Taking supplements in isolation is NOT recommended. One main reason for this is that many minerals have a synergistic or antagonistic relationship with one another. For example, taking high amounts of Magnesium can crash Potassium levels. Calcium supplementation, which is not recommended, decreases Magnesium. These relationships can be tricky to navigate so please do your homework or speak to someone who understands the mechanics. 


There are also vitamins that are not water soluble meaning the body will store excess amounts versus passing along what isn’t needed. Taking those vitamins in high amounts is dangerous and can lead to some very serious health problems. Vitamin A toxicity is an example of exactly that. 


It may seem counterintuitive but some supplements should be avoided altogether even if your levels are low. Many processes and statuses in the body are controlled by a KEY group of minerals. Let’s break that down with an example. Being low in Zinc may prompt you to begin taking a Zinc supplement, however, a deeper understanding may just change your mind. Zinc and Iron compete for absorption, using the same pathways. Something as simple as lowering Iron intake can increase Zinc levels. If that’s not enough of a reason to halt Zinc supplementation, consider that taking too much Zinc activates a key protein in the Liver called Metallthionein. This protein binds up Copper in the body stronger than it binds up Zinc, destroying the bioavailability of copper in the body. Remember, bio available Copper is absolutely required for ferroxidase function and that function is what keeps Iron 'in check' in the body.


Yes, this can seem very complicated and perhaps overwhelming, but the good news is that the majority of supplements on the market are simply not necessary. 




Energy production is dependent upon:

 •Mitochondrial Ability to Create ATP

•Enzyme Production

•Support of Liver Processes

•Optimal Adrenal Functioning 

•Deliberate Regulation of Stressors

•Management of Iron levels

I hope this article was helpful.  Feel free to share as long as this article remains unaltered.

Kim Boyle – Wellness Consultant, Root Cause Protocol Consultant