Energy Maintenance Theory of Aging

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the form of energy that is stored within the mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell) of every cell of the body. ATP production begins the Krebs Citric Acid Cycle. And it is here we will begin discussing the energy maintenance theory of aging.

Research supported by the NIH has worked on a theory called the “Energy Maintenance Theory of Aging” (Chaudhari SN et al, 2018). This theory explains that by maintaining satisfactory energy levels will allow older animals to live longer. In certain species, it has been shown that when the mitochondria  has been fragmented it is less efficient at producing ATP. 

How can one improve the health of the mitochondria and increase ATP?

There has been a great deal of research that associates the health of the mitochondria to the aging process. Aging cellular mitochondria becomes damaged from free radicals. One theory proposes that by reducing calorie intake it limits mitochondrial activity to help extend lifespan. 

It has been shown that ATP decreases with age in animals and humans. Also, a reduction in the quality and activity of the mitochondria has been correlated with aging. 

Genetics is a factor in mitochondrial aging. Although, there have been some ways proposed to improve mitochondrial function (Pizzorno J, 2014):  

  1. Limiting calories in animals that are aging has been shown to help the mitochondria to produce greater levels of ATP.
  2. Raise the level of quality nutritional intake to prevent oxygen and the leakage of high-energy electrons that occurs in the Krebs Cycle. Fruits and vegetables are part of a good nutritional program.
  3. Consume nutrients that help protect the mitochondria from free radical damage.

Important nutrients that operate in the electron transport chain to make ATP energy includes coenzyme Q10, which could be deficient. 

Animal research has demonstrated that compounds such as α-Lipoic Acid and acetyl-L-carnitine have been used in combination to help increase mitochondrial ATP production including in elderly animal models (Shenk JC et al, 2009). 

Resveratrol has been shown to increase ATP, upregulate Sirt 1 and helps to protect cells from reactive oxygen species (ROS). The damage that is produced from ROS has been associated with cellular damage that causes faster aging (Schroeder EA, Shadel GS, 2012).

N acetyl cysteine (NAC) also have research to demonstrate how it helps the mitochondria.

Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin that has much animal research that shows its antioxidant properties protect the mitochondria from oxidative stress. 

  1. Reduce exposure to toxins 
  2. Exercise through strength training to build muscle mass. 

A number of studies have shown that exercise is associated with increased ATP metabolism and has been shown to be one of the best ways to slow down the aging process (Sun N et al, 2016). 

In summary, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the form of energy that is stored in every cell of the body. A theory called the “Energy Maintenance Theory of Aging” shares that by maintaining energy levels will help to increase lifespan. There are various ways proposed to help one to improve mitochondrial function and ATP production including exercise, a healthy diet and some dietary supplements.