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Cellular Energy: The Process & Why It’s Important

Published by Dr. Venn-Watson
Dr. Eric Venn-Watson’s Highlights
  • Cellular energy refers to the process by which our cells use food to make the energy to fuel cellular processes.

    As we age, our cells’ ability to create energy efficiently begins to decline.

    Correcting the sluggish function of the mitochondria in our cells by supplementing with fatty15 can help improve cellular function by up to 45%.

Feeling chronically fatigued, always ill, or worn thin is a default setting many of us have simply accepted as the norm. The truth is, it isn’t normal for our bodies and brains to feel this way. 

If we want to figure out what’s causing us to feel older than we are, we need to go to our cells. Our cells power every process in our bodies. Breathing, digestion, blinking, walking, and keeping our hearts beating result from cellular respiration.

Cellular respiration is how our cells create energy. The process is complicated, but we’ll explain it in easy-to-understand steps and why it’s so important. We’ll also talk about what causes the process to malfunction and what you can do to fix it.

What Is Cellular Energy?

Your body requires energy to move a muscle or digest your food. Energy comes to us in the form of food, but transforming food into small, usable compounds our cells can use involves several steps. 

At the cellular level, the process is called cellular respiration. Once some foods are ingested, they are broken down into simple sugars in the blood called glucose. The pancreas releases insulin, which takes the glucose in our blood to the cells that need it.

The cells then use a four-step process to convert glucose to ATP, a molecule your cells can use to fuel their processes and keep your body functioning. 

Cellular Respiration (Simplified)

Human cells use aerobic respiration, which means oxygen is necessary. The process of cellular respiration is complex, but four steps are generally recognized for changing glucose into the energy your cells need. 

1. Glycolysis

During the first phase of cellular respiration, cells that have received glucose molecules break it down into a pyruvate molecule. The conversion of glucose into pyruvate happens in the cytoplasm (or the open areas where there are no organelles) of the cells. 

During this process, one ATP molecule is released, but your cells need more to carry out cellular processes, so the pyruvate then undergoes another transformation during the second step.

2. Pyruvate Oxidation

The pyruvate molecules travel to the matrix of the mitochondria, where it breaks down into smaller compounds called acetyl-CoA. 

3. Krebs Cycle

The Krebs Cycle, or citric acid cycle, is where most of the ATP molecules your cells use will be produced. During the Krebs Cycle, acetyl-CoA molecules break down into ATP molecules. Carbon dioxide is also released during this process. 

4. Oxidative Phosphorylation

Now that the Krebs Cycle has produced ATP molecules, they are released from the mitochondria and sent to various organelles within the cell to provide energy for their functions. The process involves moving compounds in and out of the mitochondria via the electron transport chain.

Just so you know, many other reactions occur during this entire process, like sub-steps, but unless you’re particularly fascinated with biology, it can become a little tedious. 

Why Is Cellular Energy Important?

The mitochondria of our cells produce large quantities of ATP. One molecule of glucose, for instance, can produce up to 36 molecules of ATP, which is needed for virtually all bodily processes. 

That means when our mitochondria are healthy and functioning, there will be plenty of ATP circulating in our bodies, and our systems will run smoothly. We’ll experience better sleep, healthier moods, less illness, and better functionality on every level.

What Can Go Wrong?

If our cells constantly produce energy, why do we feel sluggish, sick, and mentally exhausted? The answer is our mitochondria, and a process called oxidative stress. 

Oxidative Stress 

Maybe you remember from grade school that all molecules must have a balanced number of electrons. When they don’t, they become free radicals. 

Free radicals seek out electrons to make themselves balanced. When they rob other molecules of their electrons, those molecules become damaged. 

Part of this process is natural. Free radicals are a natural byproduct of the production of ATP within the cells. Free radicals can also come from external sources, like cigarette smoke, pollution, and even the sun. 

Over time, free radical damage can intensify and damage our cells in a process known as oxidative stress. Aging mitochondria don’t function as well because of this process, which produces more reactive oxygen species (free radicals) than they normally would during the cellular respiration process. 

This results in the loss of mitochondrial function, which can cause a system-wide slowdown, affecting how our bodies function and, ultimately, how we feel.

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What You Can Do

Taking care of our bodies starts by eating nourishing foods that supply our cells with the necessary nutrients and vitamins. It’s also important to use our bodies to exercise. In addition to these standards, science has revealed a way to supercharge our mitochondria and restore proper function. 

C15:0: What It Is and How It Works

C15:0 is an odd-chain saturated fatty acid that a growing body of evidence supports as an essential fatty acid that strengthens our cells, supports mitochondrial function, and helps us age healthfully.

Veterinary epidemiologist Dr. Stephanie Venn-Watson discovered C15:0 while helping dolphins lead healthier lives. Her research revealed that dolphins with a higher circulating level of C15:0 had fewer age-related illnesses.

She went further, looking into the health benefits of this molecule in human populations and, three years later, published her findings in Nature's Scientific Reports in 2020

Wait, Isn’t Saturated Fat Bad for Us?

Although we have been told that all saturated fats are bad for us, science now supports that’s not quite the case. 

Science supports that higher levels of odd-chain saturated fatty acids (like C15:0) are associated with better heart health. Further, higher levels of C15:0 have been repeatedly associated with healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels and improved heart health. 

What About the Mitochondria?

A proposed mechanism for repairing mitochondrial function is through C15:0's metabolism to propionyl-CoA, which increases succinate production. In turn, succinate serves as a “rescue” compound that can enter the mitochondrial electron transport chain at Complex II, effectively bypassing mitochondrial dysfunctions caused by Complex I issues (most commonly associated with aging and chronic conditions).

That’s a scientific way of saying that adding C15:0 to your diet can help improve mitochondrial function by up to 45 percent and reduce the number of reactive oxygen species (free radicals) they produce, helping your cells stay strong, which makes your entire body feel better.* 

Are There Other Benefits of C15:0?

There sure are. C15:0 helps strengthen cell membranes, keeping your cells protected, and even binds to special receptors in your body called PPARs.* PPARs regulate processes like mood, appetite, and even sleep. By binding with these receptors, C15:0 can help restore homeostasis to these functions, helping you feel better.* 

Getting C15:0 To Your Cells

C15:0 is primarily found in trace levels in whole-fat dairy products and some types of fish and plants. However, increasing your intake of whole-fat dairy products comes with extra calories, sugars, and high levels of the "bad" even-chain saturated fats.

A solution? Fatty15. 

Fatty15 is a breakthrough supplement borne from scientific discovery, containing one pure ingredient, FA15™. FA15™ is the vegan version of C15:0 that can replenish your body’s circulating levels of C15:0 and help restore your mitochondria’s ability to function properly.*

If you’re “feeling your age,” reverse it.* Taking fatty15 can help you age healthfully on a cellular level and restore your vitality and energy.* 

Get started with fatty15 here today and help your cells put that pep back in their step.



Cellular respiration - Definition and Examples - Biology Online Dictionary

Oxidative Phosphorylation - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics

Definition of reactive oxygen species - NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms

Efficacy of dietary odd-chain saturated fatty acid pentadecanoic acid parallels broad associated health benefits in humans: could it be essential? | Scientific Reports

Cell-permeable succinate prodrugs bypass mitochondrial complex I deficiency|PubMed

Profile photo for Eric Venn-Watson

Eric Venn-Watson M.D.

Eric is a physician, U.S. Navy veteran, and Co-founder and COO of Seraphina Therapeutics. Eric served over 25 years as a Navy and Marine Corps physician, working with the special forces community to improve their health and fitness. Seraphina Therapeutics is a health and wellness company dedicated to advancing global health through the discovery of essential fatty acids and micronutrient therapeutics.

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