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What is Metabolism Anyway?

whatismetabolismJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

The first documented reference to metabolism can be traced all the way back to 1260 A.D., when Ibn al-Nafis, a Syrian born physician, authored a work entitled The Treatise of Kamil on the Prophet’s Biography. Per the recent article in IEEE PULSE Engineering In Medicine and Biology Society magazine, Ibn al-Nafis reportedly stated: “Both the body and its parts are in a continuous state of dissolution and nourishment, so they are inevitably undergoing permanent change.” And that is precisely what metabolism is. Metabolism comes from the Greek word, metabolismos, meaning “change” or “overthrow,” as in the breakdown of material.

While many of us may think of metabolism in reference to how quickly or slowly we gain or lose weight, cellular metabolism is any biological process required by the body to support life, allowing for maintenance, growth, reproduction, damage repair and the breakdown of food into energy. In simple terms, metabolism is divided into two categories that comprise of all the physical and chemical processes the body uses to either convert or utilize energy. These chemical reactions are organized into metabolic pathways that are finely regulated by crucial enzymes in order to maintain homeostasis.

  • Catabolism is a series of chemical reactions that breakdown complex molecules into smaller units, such as the breakdown of proteins into amino acids, typically releasing energy.
  • Anabolism is a series of chemical reactions that builds molecules from smaller components, such as muscle tissue growth, typically requiring energy usage.

All cellular activities require energy. Consequently, cells are tasked with both obtaining energy and using that energy to drive energy-requiring reactions. Because cells must constantly expend energy derived from their environment, energy formation is a vital component of metabolism. The key to producing the metabolic energy necessary for proper bodily function is nutrition. A nutrient is any chemical component of food that the body requires to carry out vital processes. Good nutrition benefits health at the cellular level where energy production occurs. Vitamins and minerals are necessary for obtaining energy from macronutrients and often function as enzymes or coenzymes.

B-complex vitamins are particularly important for energy metabolism. All B vitamins help to convert carbohydrates into glucose that the body uses to produce energy. B-complex vitamins also aid in the metabolism of fats and proteins.

B1 (Thiamine) – Thiamin plays a crucial role in metabolic reactions. It is a required for the formation of ATP, which every cell uses for energy.

B2 (Riboflavin) – In addition to producing energy for the body, B2 works as an antioxidant and works to convert B6 and folate into usable forms.

B3 (Niacin) – In addition to its energy producing and anti-inflammatory properties, niacin aids in hormone production, improves circulation and supports proper nervous system function.

B5 (Pantothenic Acid) – B5 plays a role in the breakdown of fats and carbohydrates for energy production. It is critical to the manufacture of red blood cells, as well as certain hormones including stress-related adrenal hormones. B5 helps to maintain a healthy digestive tract and aids in the utilization of other B vitamins.

B6 (Pyridoxine) – Like other energy producing B vitamins, B6 has many functions. B6 assists in the production of neurotransmitters melatonin, serotonin and norepinephrine. It supports normal brain development and function and works synergistically with other B vitamins to control homocysteine, an amino acid associated with heart disease. B6 is necessary for B12 absorption, and for red blood and immune cell production.

B9 (Folic Acid) – This synergistic B vitamin is crucial for proper brain function and plays an important role in DNA and RNA production. It is especially important during pregnancy, infancy and adolescence when cells and tissues are growing rapidly.

B12 (Cobalamin) – Besides the conversion of nutrients into energy, B12 is particularly important for nerve cell health, DNA and RNA production and homocysteine regulation. Along with other B vitamins, B12 assists in red blood production and assists iron utilization.

Professional Supplement Center carries these and other fine quality products that support energy metabolism and overall healthy function:

B Complex PlusB Complex Plus by Pure Encapsulations – This popular product contains an exceptional combination of B vitamins in optimal bioavailable forms. Gluten and soy free, Non-GMO vegetarian formula.


B-Complex with...B-Complex with Metafolin by Douglas Laboratories – This comprehensive B-complex provides essential B vitamins plus intrinsic factor, a necessary nutrient for B12 absorption. Soy free, vegetarian formula.


Active B-ComplexActive B-Complex by Integrative Therapeutics – This balanced, hypoallergenic B-complex provides active forms of B vitamins. Gluten, dairy, soy, and sugar free, vegetarian formula. NSF Certified for Sport.


Active B ComplexActive B complex by Bioclinic Naturals – This product contains the full array of biologically active B vitamins along with Quatrefolic® folate, in support of the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Gluten, dairy, soy, sugar and yeast free, Non-GMO vegan formulation.


Super Vitamin B...Super Vitamin B Complex by Allergy Research Group – This advanced low allergen potential formula provides substantial amounts of all B vitamins, including co-enzymes forms of B2 and B6 for enhanced bioavailability. Gluten and soy free, vegetarian formulation.


Balanced B ComplexBalanced B Complex by MegaFood 20% OFF This easily digestible balanced B vitamin supplement is formulated with FoodState Nutrients™ to deliver authentic nourishment from 100% whole foods. Gluten, soy and lactose fee, Non-GMO, kosher vegan formulation.



Metabolism: The physiological Power-Generating Process. http://pulse.embs.org/may-2016/metabolism-the-physiological-power-generating-process/?trendmd-shared=1

What is Metabolism? http://www.news-medical.net/life-sciences/What-is-Metabolism.aspx

Metabolism: The Facts Behind the Myths. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/8871.php

Metabolic Energy. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK9903/

Nutrients Involved In Energy Metabolism and Blood Health. https://www.hccfl.edu/media/44280/10_nutrients_involved_in_energy_metabolism_and_blood_health.pdf

The Catabolism of Fats and Proteins for Energy. http://antranik.org/the-catabolism-of-fats-and-proteins-for-energy/