The cellular energy turnover takes place inside some small powerhouses called mitochondria. The condition of these tiny structures is determining for our energy levels and health. That is why it is vital that the mitochondria are adequately supplied with all the necessary nutrients. Q10 and magnesium play a particularly important role.
When we eat and drink, energy-providing substances from carbohydrate, fat, and protein are carried with the blood to all the different cells. The actual combustion takes place inside the mitochondria in a process that involves Q10 and the oxygen that we breathe. Q10 is a part of the so-called electron transport chain, and to begin with the mitochondria produce chemically stored energy in a molecule called ATP (adenosine triphosphate). When we need energy for breathing, muscle work, or mental activity, ATP is broken down, releasing the energy that is trapped inside.
The enormous energy turnover and the many functions of our mitochondria
The major part of the Q10 needed by us humans gets produced inside the body, but there are many factors that cause this endogenous production to decrease. Many people begin to notice this in their fifties, typically by feeling decreased vitality.
Stress, certain diseases, and the use of cholesterol-lowering medicine may also cause a depletion of Q10 levels. At the same time, Q10 is a powerful antioxidant and serves to protect cells, mitochondria and the cardiovascular system.
Many diseases and conditions are associated with low levels of Q10 and this is a problem, since these conditions often require the presence of Q10 in adequate amounts.
Ageing processes and mitochondrial diseases
Many ageing processes are caused by malfunctioning mitochondria and impaired energy turnover. Mitochondrial diseases as such typically include neurological disorders, and problems like migraine, senility, chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia may also occur. In such cases, it is often relevant to give large quantities of Q10 several times a day. A number of researchers even speculate that cancer is a sign of mitochondrial dysfunction.
It is possible to compensate for the decreasing endogenous production or poor utilization of Q10 by taking a supplement. However, because the body has difficulty with absorbing Q10 from supplements it is always advisable to stick with products that can document their quality and bioavailability.
Magnesium's role in the energy turnover and other processes
Magnesium is involved in over 300 different enzymatic processes that are important for, among other things, mitochondrial functions, ATP synthesis, blood sugar levels, the nervous system, the heart, the blood pressure, the bones, and protein synthesis. A lack of magnesium may impair the mitochondria's ability to make energy from ATP, and the countless side effects that accompany the reduced ATP synthesis can be compared with a rolling snowball.
Mitochondrial functions, muscle building, and cancer prevention
Doctor Rhonda Patrick, PhD, has studied the relation between mitochondrial energy metabolism and muscle building. In this connection there are two ways to increase the oxygen turnover:
- Increasing the total number of mitochondria in the cells by means of high-intensity interval training. However, the formation of new mitochondria requires sufficient magnesium
- Increasing the efficiency of the mitochondria and improving their ability to produce ATP and repair damage. This also requires magnesium. As mentioned earlier, mitochondrial efficiency depends on Q10.
According to Dr. Rhonda Patrick and other researchers, there is even a relation between optimal mitochondrial function, apoptosis, and cancer prevention.
Common causes of magnesium deficiency
It is assumed that we humans got around 500 mg of magnesium from our diets about hundred years ago. Today, many people only get around 150-300 mg of the nutrient. Rhonda Patrick believes this is because of our refined diets that are rich in calories and low in nutrients. Magnesium deficiencies may also occur as a result of stress, lack of sleep, too much alcohol and other stimulants, too much calcium (from dairy product and supplements), diuretics, estrogen therapy, cholesterol-lowering statins, and elevated insulin levels, which are an early stage of metabolic syndrome and type-2 diabetes.
Magnesium, blood sugar, and mitochondria
Type-2 diabetes is spreading like a bushfire and lack of magnesium and other nutrients play a significant role. Magnesium controls our glucose uptake and insulin levels by means of various magnesium-containing enzymes that work as "on-off switches" and are responsible for optimal functioning of the cellular insulin receptors. Magnesium is therefore important for stable blood sugar levels and for enabling the mitochondria to convert blood sugar into energy. Chromium also plays a vital role in keeping blood sugar levels stable.
Magnesium deficiency and symptoms
It is very difficult to measure the body's magnesium status, as only one percent of our magnesium is present in the blood. The remaining part is stored in bones and soft tissues. Because magnesium is also found inside cells, only a whole blood analysis can provide a somewhat reliable picture. Urine samples and saliva samples are also unreliable measures of magnesium levels.
Nonetheless, early signs of a magnesium deficiency may be symptoms such as headache, fatigue, poor sleep, muscle cramps, constipation, reduced appetite, and nausea. Chronic magnesium deficiency may lead to serious conditions like hypertension, heart rhythm disturbances, neurological disorders, decalcification of the skeleton, and possibly even an increased risk of diabetes and cancer.
Magnesium sources and requirements
Good magnesium sources include kernels, almonds, nuts, seeds, whole-grain, cabbage, beans, and other vegetables. The recommended daily magnesium intake is around 375 mg, but many researchers believe that the intake should ideally be around 500 mg, which is what we humans got before the industrialization.
It is of course best to cover your need for magnesium by eating a healthy and balanced diet that also provides fiber and other nutrients. Still, if you suffer from any of the above listed symptoms or have an increased need for magnesium due to stress and similar factors it may be a good idea to take a high-quality magnesium supplement, which the body can easily absorb and utilize.
Did you know that..
Calcium, vitamin D and vitamin K2 all work in synergy with magnesium?
Ruy Lopez-Ridaura et al: Magnesium Intake and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in Men and Women. Diabetes Care
Pernille Lund: Q10 - fra helsekost til epokegørende medicin
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