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Nonstimulant sports energy ingredients

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Ubiquinol, L-carnitine and PQQ are among the ingredients that may help improve physical and mental energy without requiring a stop by the local coffee shop.

Whether weekend warrior or high-level athlete, a common thread weaves through both groups—the need for more energy. When looking at energy as relates to sports, two primary areas are physical energy and mental energy.

For many athletes, the focus tends to be on physical and not mental energy. Overlooking mental fatigue is a huge error that can actually lead to increased physical fatigue and decreased performance.1 Some key ingredients may help improve physical and mental energy without requiring a stop by the local coffee shop for a boost.

Physical energy: Supporting physiology

Physiologically and biochemically speaking, energy level support should begin at the cellular level. This can mean looking at supplements that support cells’ natural abilities to produce energy and recover more quickly so the process can begin all over. Regarding energy, the mitochondria (energy factories) play a critical role. The energy needs of each type of cell will determine the number of mitochondria found in those cells. For example, muscle and brain cells have more mitochondria due to their need to produce more energy, as compared to bone cells.

If a consumer needs more energy for sports, then the nutritional needs of the mitochondria need to be supported. This process begins by supporting the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the most important energy-rich molecule produced by mitochondria and the key nutrients involved in this energy-producing process.2 The following nutrients should be considered:

• L-carnitine: Needed to carry long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs), or basically fuel, into the cell and mitochondria.3

• Omega-3s: Research has shown omega-3 supplementation positively impacts the composition of mitochondrial membranes and helps promote improvements in adenosine diphosphate (ADP) sensitivity.4

• Ubiquinol: This bioactive form of ubiquinone (coenzyme [Co]Q10) is involved in the synthesis of ATP in the mitochondria.5

• Magnesium: Plays a key role in mitochondrial functions, including energy production in the form of ATP.6

• PQQ (pyrroloquinoline quinone): Stimulates mitochondria production and supports mitochondrial function7 i.e., not improving the function of the mitochondria but actually increasing the number of mitochondria in the body.

This article continues with information about further fueling the body, as well as ingredients that have shown to help improve concentration, focus and mental energy. To access the full piece—and more content that’s related— click the following link to visit the “Energy ingredients with market buzz” digital magazine.

David Foreman is a registered pharmacist, author and media personality known to consumers internationally as “The Herbal Pharmacist.” A background in pharmacy and natural medicine puts Foreman in an elite class of health experts who can teach integrative medicine practices. He helps consumers achieve health and vitality through his four pillars of health: diet, exercise, spirituality and supplements. Foreman is a graduate of the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy, currently serves on the Organic & Natural Health Association’s (O&N) scientific advisory board and is the author of “4 Pillars of Health: Heart Disease.”


1 Van Cutsem J et al. “The Effects of Mental Fatigue on Physical Performance: A Systematic Review.” Sports Med. 2017;47(8):1569-1588.

2 Du J et al. “The Role of Nutrients in Protecting Mitochondrial Function and Neurotransmitter Signaling: Implications for the Treatment of Depression, PTSD, and Suicidal Behaviors.” Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2016;56(15):2560-2578.

3 Marcovina SM et al. “Translating the basic knowledge of mitochondrial functions to metabolic therapy: role of L-carnitine.” Transl Res. 2013;161(2):73-84.

4 Herbst EA et al. “Omega-3 supplementation alters mitochondrial membrane composition and respiration kinetics in human skeletal muscle.” J Physiol. 2014;592(6):1341-1352.

5 Saini R. “Coenzyme Q10: The essential nutrient.” J Pharm Bioallied Sci. 2011;3(3):466-467.

6 Pilchova I et al. “The Involvement of Mg2+ in Regulation of Cellular and Mitochondrial Functions.” Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2017;2017:6797460.

7 Saihara K. “Pyrroloquinoline Quinone, a Redox-Active o-Quinone, Stimulates Mitochondrial Biogenesis by Activating the SIRT1/PGC-1α Signaling Pathway.” Biochemistry. 2017;56(50):6615-6625.

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