What is adenosine triphosphate? What is its role in the nervous system? Find out below.
In this article:
- What Is Adenosine Triphosphate or ATP?
- How Does ATP Help the Brain, Mind, and Mood?
- Can Caffeine and Energy Drinks Boost Brain Function?
- What Do Scientists Mean When They Say People Can Run Low on Adenosine Triphosphate?
- How Does Low Blood Sugar Relate to ATP?
- What’s the Role of ATP in Cancer?
- Can People Take Adenosine Triphosphate as a Supplement?
Adenosine Triphosphate | Why You Cannot Live Without It
What Is Adenosine Triphosphate or ATP?
Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the basic fuel the cells need to operate. As one health scientist puts it, if your body isn’t continually producing ATP, you’re not alive.
ATP is the primary product of cellular energy production. Our bodies use ATP to transport protein and fat in and out of our cells, contract muscles to move and work out, and guide communication between cells.
The intercellular communication that ATP makes possible is crucial to brain function. Our brains use more energy than any other body part or organ. ATP delivers oxygen and nutrients to our brain and helps remove waste products. Most of all, it keeps our brain alive and well, functioning at its best.
How Does ATP Help the Brain, Mind, and Mood?
What’s the specific function of adenosine triphosphate in the brain? Our neurons connect with glial cells. These cells require energy to communicate with one another.
ATP is the molecule the glial cells use to tell neurons what to do. If you run low on ATP, you will have less energy for cognitive tasks. You may also feel anxious, stressed, or irritable.
In contrast, with high levels of ATP, your brain will work better. Your thoughts will be clearer, you will have more mental energy, and you will be in a better mood.
The discovery that ATP is a neurotransmitter is recent. One of the reasons the brain slows down as it ages is insufficient adenosine triphosphate.
The cell’s mitochondria, which make ATP, get less efficient the older we become. Increasing foods like beef, chicken, salmon, and tuna can help our cells to produce ATP. They can be beneficial to mood and cognition. Supplementing with ATP may also be helpful.
Can Caffeine and Energy Drinks Boost Brain Function?
Caffeine and energy drinks with caffeine provide a temporary boost of alertness and energy. They don’t offer long-term alertness or improved cognition. These substances come at a cost because they temporarily cause your body to release enzymes and energy.
In the long run, our bodies develop a tolerance for caffeine and its effects. Caffeine can also wear down our body’s immune system and natural energy balance.
What Do Scientists Mean When They Say People Can Run Low on Adenosine Triphosphate?
Since ATP is the primary energy molecule, the organs, especially the brain, can run low when there is less ATP. Scientists now identify ATP as a critical factor in the aging process.
As our brains grow older, they use more adenosine triphosphate to perform the same tasks that required less of it when we were younger. At the same time, cells throughout our bodies grow less efficient at making ATP. The combination leads to “running low on ATP.” It then leads to fatigue, cognitive deficits, and worsening conditions up to and including dementia.
A new study on rodents, meanwhile, highlights the role of adenosine triphosphate in preventing or delaying the progression of osteoarthritis. It is a degenerative disease characterized by the gradual wear and tear of the joints.
The researchers from NYU Langone Medical Center found a decreased level of adenosine derived from ATP can increase the risk of damage to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). The ACL is a known precursor of osteoarthritis.
Adenosine is a compound necessary to maintain a healthy number of chondrocytes. These are cells that help preserve the condition of the cartilage. Interestingly, chondrocytes also work with ATP by releasing it so the body can convert it the adenosine.
How Does Low Blood Sugar Relate to ATP?
Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, can affect ATP. Small amounts of glucose in our blood reduce cellular energy production. They also decrease energy-giving ATP in our brains. This is why low blood sugar can lead to confusion, fainting, and even more severe effects.
What’s the Role of ATP in Cancer?
A study published in Onco Science called ATP a double-edged sword as far as cancer cell proliferation is concerned. It showed inhibitory effects in colon, ovarian, pancreatic, and liver cancer. It may also delay the progression of melanoma and esophageal cancer. On the other hand, it may play a hand in the development of prostate cancer.
The said Finnish study in 2013 revealed how low production of ATP may result in the death (apoptosis) of the cancer cells. It only goes to show the delicate balance of ATP the body needs to have to function well. They also stress the complexity of health. The Onco Science research displayed a strong connection between inflammation and increased production of adenosine, which promotes migration of cancer cells.
Can People Take Adenosine Triphosphate as a Supplement?
Scientists initially thought ATP was a molecule that could only be obtained from the body’s cells through glycolysis and the Krebs cycle.
Glycolysis is a metabolic process that transforms the food we eat into energy. The mitochondria take carbohydrates and glucose (sugar) and convert them into molecules called pyruvates. The next cellular energy process following glycolysis is the Krebs cycle, which results in waste products and ATP.
Our bodies continuously create new ATP fuel to provide energy requirements. Our muscles can only store ATP for a few seconds during exercise. ATP stores in our brain are available for 10 minutes or less without being replenished.
In the past, researchers thought that cells produce ATP on an as-needed basis. Supplements containing ATP showed benefits when tested on animals. They didn’t show they can directly increase the amount of ATP in body tissues in humans yet. But they increased blood flow, improved physical performance, and sped up tissue repair.
Slowing down mentally and physically with age is sometimes thought of as inevitable and unavoidable. Studies showed ATP supplements could benefit blood flow, tissue healing, and recovery. Adding ATP might increase the amount of the vital energy-providing molecules our brain needs to function at its best.
Check out this video as Dr. Stephen Smith, M.D. explains mitochondrial fatigue and ATP fuel:
Combining a supplement with adenosine triphosphate and a diet rich in foods that help our cells make energy can help improve mental clarity. It may reduce fatigue and give the cells in the brain the opportunity to communicate better. All these can potentially relieve symptoms like stress, anxiety, depression, and age-related deficits.
Would you be willing to take adenosine triphosphate supplements? Let us know your thoughts below.