How do cells get the energy they need to do their jobs?

Everyone could use a little more energy in their day, and while caffeine can offer a short-term boost, the only way people can get more natural energy is to understand where the energy comes from in the first place. This means understanding a little science behind how the body functions.

Cell under microscope

From a cellular perspective, the body is well-equipped to fuel cells’ energy demands by having complex systems that are able to obtain, break down, and distribute energy-rich molecules throughout the body. With trillions of cells in the human body, ensuring all of them get the energy they need is no small task, yet the body is highly adapted to deliver.

Below is a detailed look at how cells get the energy they need to perform their unique and important jobs. When cellular energy is properly supported, it helps to aid organ and bodily systems to yield a higher caliber of wellness.


The entire pathway for energy acquisition for cells starts at the sources of food that you select on a daily basis. The food you eat consists of three main categories of molecules known as macromolecules. These molecules of life include carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids. All of the macronutrients excluding nucleic acids can be utilized as a source of energy within the body.

Many health and wellness dietary plans actually utilize macros as a way of controlling energy and nutritional consumption to help yield desired results. Below is a closer look at macros and why they are important to cellular energy.


Carbohydrates, also known as carbs, are molecules that contain a carbon chain typically arranged in a ring with a combination of hydrogen and oxygen. When people typically think of carbs, they think of foods like bread, pasta, and donuts. While these foods are all high in carbohydrates, they only represent a small subset of foods with carbs. Healthier alternatives with carbohydrate contents include vegetables, fruit, beans, and oats.

While carbohydrates seem to get a bad reputation, they are actually a vital component within your body. Carbohydrates are the main energy source within the body and the most readily to be broken down into usable energy.

Blood sugar is actually a measure of a form of carbohydrate known as glucose, which is vital to energize the many-body systems and cells throughout the body.


Protein is another important molecule that needs to be consumed on a regular basis. Proteins within the body are required for the structure, function, and regulation of the body's tissues and organs. Unlike carbohydrates, protein is not as readily utilized as a source of energy and only when carbohydrates are depleted does the body begin to utilize protein as energy. This aspect of protein metabolism is what has led to the popularity of the ketogenic diet.

Essentially, in a keto diet, a person consumes very small amounts of carbs and a larger proportion of protein and fats. This essentially forces your body to utilize alternative sources of energy like protein, which over time, can lead to short-term benefits such as weight loss.


Lipids are long carbon chains that can be saturated or unsaturated. Examples of lipids include fats, oils, avocados, and dairy. With their long carbon chains, lipids are the most energy-dense macro.

Lipids are an important component of the cell as they contribute to the cell membranes that separate the interior and exterior of the cell. Lipids also act as a molecule that can store energy for the time between meals and when you expend mass amounts of energy. Similarly to proteins, the body will utilize fat stores only after carbohydrates have been used up.


Once you consume food, it immediately begins to break down into its component parts through the process of digestion.

Enzymes found within saliva known as amylase start to chemically break down carbohydrate chains as soon as you begin to chew. When you swallow it travels down the esophagus and enters the stomach where it encounters an acidic environment with even more enzymes that break down proteins.

After the stomach, the food continues to interact with catabolic enzymes that break the food down into its component parts which are then absorbed through the intestines. Once the food is broken down and absorbed, the body has a number of different mechanisms to help transport the molecules throughout the body.

Carbohydrates like sugar are able to dissolve into the bloodstream which carries it throughout the body. When blood sugar level increases, the body secretes the hormone called insulin which tells the cell membranes within the body to allow insulin to be absorbed and removed from the bloodstream.

Blood sugar balance is an integral system in the body, and taking supplements such as MitoQ Blood Sugar can help support the delicate blood sugar balance necessary for cells to function at their best.

Protein, once degraded, enters the bloodstream and is transported into the cells by different transport systems. Fats take a completely different pathway than the other macromolecules since they are not readily dissolved in water. Fats enter the lymphatic system where they are then distributed throughout the body.

The digestion of fats is quite different from other molecules, and some medications and supplements actually need to be taken with a meal high in fats in order to be absorbed. Fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamin A, Vitamin D, and Vitamin E all rely on the fat absorption pathway to get into the body.

Cellular respiration

The final stop for the cellular energy pathway is cellular respiration. The process of cellular respiration occurs within the cell in a structure known as the mitochondria. All the macromolecules are able to enter the process of cellular respiration through a series of modifications and steps, but the go-to molecule for cellular respiration is glucose.

Cellular respiration begins once glucose is taken up from the blood into the cell. From there, the glucose molecule undergoes a coordinated series of reactions that remove carbon from its structure. Each removal of carbon yields energy that is chemically harnessed and utilized by the mitochondria.

With the breakdown of glucose accompanied by oxygen, the mitochondria are able to produce the form of energy that can be utilized by the cells to do their specific jobs.

Mitochondrial support

The mitochondria are constantly running and providing energy for the cell, and over time, the mitochondria can experience oxidative fatigue due to low CoQ10 levels. CoQ10 acts to protect the mitochondrial membrane, and without it, the mitochondria can become less efficient at producing ATP.

CoQ10 supplements can help to increase CoQ10 levels within the mitochondria, but due to the fat-soluble nature and poor absorption, it can take large amounts and long periods of time to see noticeable results.

MitoQ is a different take on CoQ10 that is water-soluble and readily implemented into the mitochondrial membrane. With a higher level of absorption into the mitochondria , MitoQ can be taken at a lower dose while offering antioxidant support to help the mitochondria function at their absolute best.


In summary, cells get their energy from a number of different molecules you obtain through your diet. Amino acid, fatty acids, and carbohydrates are all able to be utilized for energy. The cell takes up these nutrients, and through the process of cellular respiration, yields ATP, which is the usable form of energy within the cell that allows it to conduct every little piece of business your body does every second of every day!

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