Energy, the essence of life, can be described as the strength and vitality required for sustained physical or mental activity. In nature, energy exists in a variety of forms including mechanical, chemical, heat, electrical, light and nuclear energies. Energy is an indispensable prerequisite for human growth, development and metabolism functions. The human body ranks energy production as the most important of these functions and will sacrifice other functions when necessary, such as slowing down metabolism in response to a lack of food and nutrients.
The sun is the ultimate source of energy. Solar energy, when harnessed by plants through photosynthesis, enables the production of plant protein, carbohydrates and fats, all forms of chemical energy. Animals eat the plants and convert the chemical energy into their own stores, primarily protein and fat. When we eat foods from animals and plants, our bodies convert their chemical energy into our own energy for storage and usage. The body uses chemical energy stores to produce the electrical energy needed for creation of nerve impulses, to produce the heat energy that maintains body temperature and to produce the mechanical energy that enables our muscles to contract and release.
The foods we eat supply our bodies with energy rich molecules known as macronutrients, and with vitamins and minerals, or micronutrients. The three types of macronutrients, carbohydrates, proteins and fats, are converted during metabolism into glucose or simple sugars (carbohydrates), amino acids (protein) and fatty acids (fats). All of these energy sources are either used immediately or are stored for later use, in the form of glycogen (short-term storage) or fat (long-term storage). When the energy-rich molecules such as glucose enter the cells, they are further broken down in a series of steps that release the energy that drives the complex chemical, electrical and mechanical systems of the human body.
Metabolism is the process by which food is transformed into energy. During a series of processes that take place deep inside the mitochondria of the cells, glucose is transformed into adenosine triphospate (ATP). ATP is a complex energy molecule critical for all life, arguably second in importance only to DNA. ATP is the most widely distributed high-energy compound in the human body as it powers virtually every activity of the cells. Within the approximately 100 trillion human cells, each cell will contain about 1 billion ATP molecules. This amount meets the cells’ needs for only a few minutes and must be rapidly renewed and recycled. ATP is a perfectly designed and very intricate molecule that provides the unique amounts of energy required for life sustaining processes.
If you are feeling the impact of low energy levels, including fatigue, irritability and difficulty focusing, look first to your diet and nutrition. A combination of macro and micronutrients are required daily for optimal energy and health. According to the Dietary Guidelines For Americans, many of us consume more calories than are needed without getting the proper nutrients needed to convert foods into energy. So if you feel like taking a nap instead of a walk, it might be time to incorporate some of these high-energy producing foods, vitamins and minerals:
- Macadamia nuts – These powerful nuts provide protein, fat, fiber, iron, magnesium and antioxidants.
- Edamame – These soybeans contain a balance of carbohydrates, protein, iron and healthy fat.
- Salmon – Always on the list of superfoods, salmon is loaded with energy-promoting protein, muscle-building amino acids, and brain- and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
- Kale – The Center for Science in the Public Interest ranks kale as the number one all-around vegetable. Kale contains a substantial amount of vitamins and minerals including a large amount of vitamin K.
- Wild blueberries – Packed full of antioxidants, wild blueberries are nutrient dense and low on the glycemic index so they won’t spike your blood sugar levels.
- Vitamin B1 – Thiamine is essential for converting carbohydrates into energy.
- Vitamin B2 – Riboflavin aids in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, and together with Vitamin B3 (Niacin) aids in effective usage of our energy stores.
- Vitamin B6 – Pyridoxine assists in protein metabolism.
For good, healthy energy and vitality, maintain a balanced lifestyle. Eat a variety of vegetables and fruits, stay hydrated with water throughout the day, get regular exercise and make sure you are getting the right nutrients for maximum energy production.Mitochondrial Resuscitate by Metagenics – Scientifically designed to provide nutritional support for healthy cellular (ATP) production by delivering essential nutrients to the mitochondria, the energy powerhouses of the cells. B-Complex Plus by Pure Encapsulations – An exceptional combination of B vitamins, including vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, biotin, and folic acid (as Metafolin® L-5-MTHF), all of which are provided in their optimal bioavailable and functional forms. Energy/Sports Formula by Douglas Laboratories – A synergistic and comprehensive combination of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, herbals, and other nutrients, carefully formulated and specifically designed to support energy metabolism during sport and exercise.