It’s really quite simple when you remember your high school biology lectures.
You eat carbohydrates.
Your cells use dehydrogenase enzymes to strip them of electrons to break them down into simpler molecules they can use for energy.
This is the process of oxidation.
We take the electron off and put it on a molecule of NAD+, reducing it to NADH.
If everything goes according to plan, the final electron receiver is oxygen and you get 36 molecules of ATP.
This is called aerobic respiration.
You eat, inhale oxygen, exhale carbon dioxide, and have energy (ATP) to continue living.
Without oxygen, your body defaults to anaerobic respiration.
Without oxygen, you quickly yield 2 ATP from the same glucose that would otherwise yield 36 ATP with oxygen.
That’s a serious deficit of energy.
Luckily, for healthy people that only happens some of the time in certain conditions.
Like when you go running a long long distance and your body needs energy fast, because oxygen is getting depleted more quickly and you don’t have time to wait for the longer process of producing 36 ATP.
A byproduct of this faster ATP is lactic acid.
Everyone is familiar with the burning muscles of intense exercise.
That’s lactic acid.
But you don’t have to be exercising to produce lactic acid.
You can be sitting on your couch or at your desk, just focusing on something else and taking shallow breaths.
It’s assumed that as we age, our oxygen levels decline with our physical and mental health.
You probably know that red blood cells are responsible for transporting oxygen in the blood.
About 96% of the red blood cell is made of up hemoglobin, which carries the oxygen inside the RBC.
The hemoglobin requires iron to carry out this fundamental task.
Interestingly, this can all be fouled up with a diet that is high in vitamin A and beta carotene.
All forms of vitamin A, even those in your sweet potatoes or skin creams, have to be broken down by the same metabolic pathway as alcohol.
Alcoholism is well known to cause hypoxia (low oxygen.)
Less well known is that retinol, which is the alcohol form of vitamin A, actually contributes to anemia and hypoxia, as well.
In the 1940s, researchers showed that chronically high levels of vitamin A in the diet produced all of the symptoms of scurvy, including drowsiness and anemia.
It’s why our pets, fed a diet high in vitamin A from added liver, retinyl palmetate, fish oils and foods like carrots, sweet potato and pumpkin, show all of these awful symptoms as they age.
As the excess vitamin A is turned into retinoic acid, that retinoic acid causes anemia by interfering with the hormonal regulation of our iron levels.
Usually, our small intestines absorb iron, and these hormones signal it to be released into the blood stream.
If you’ve ever taken an iron supplement, like they give to pregnant women with low iron, you know they almost always cause constipation.
This is a problem with the disruption of iron metabolism, and its why you may have low energy, susceptibility to infection due to low tissue oxygen and high lactic acid, and fluctuate from constipation to diarrhea.
This could also be called iron overload.
One major risk factor for which is cirrhosis.
There’s about 9 papers referenced for liver damage and cirrhosis on Wikipedia for signs and symptoms of hypervitaminosis A, including esophageal and intestinal bleeding like the animals discussed in the paper on scurvy.
This toxicity is just like being an alcoholic.
And, it may be why your body is failing at producing adequate energy to be healthy, think clearly, and otherwise feel good.
You can read a lot more about this topic in the dozens of referenced articles I’ve posted on my blog.
And, as always, I invite you to schedule a free call to discuss your history and help you connect the dots that no one else can.