If you’re one of the people who’ve been following me on my journey into understanding mitochondrial function, there’s a high chance that you’ve heard of adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. To put it simply, ATP is the carrier of energy throughout the body. It’s usually credited as the universal energy currency organism-wide, as it’s especially important in energy metabolism and distribution in the body’s cells.
ATP consists of different components, adenosine being one of them. It once was believed that ATP or adenosine are substances that can be produced only by the body from the numerous nutrient sources you consume, but it’s now incorporated into supplements and powders that can be added to your diet. However, these supplements have varying effectivity.
This article will tackle the different products of adenosine, the possible effects it may have on the body, and whether it’s worthwhile to add this supplement to your daily diet.
What Is Adenosine?
Adenosine refers to one of the main components of complex body chemicals responsible for energy transfer and for prompting cellular pathways. It’s essential for regulating numerous essential body processes, including cardiovascular, neurologic and respiratory functions. This substance is so important that the lack of adenosine in the body would mean sure death.1
Adenosine is part of numerous essential compounds in the body, namely adenosine triphosphate, adenosine monophosphate, adenosine diphosphate and adenosine deaminase. The difference between these types of adenosine lies in their chemical composition and their function in the body. One source likens it to a battery with a decreasing charge, with ATP having the full charge.2
Today, adenosine supplements have been developed, which are used to boost the adenosine stores in the liver and other organs. Adenosine supplements usually come in two forms: ATP and AMP. Oral ATP is used for exercise purposes, while intravenous ATP is used to treat a variety of diseases. On the other hand, AMP is most famous for its role in shingles recovery.3
What Is Adenosine Deaminase Deficiency?
One of the best examples of adenosine’s importance is adenosine deaminase deficiency’s effect on the body. This is caused by a mutation in the adenosine deaminase (ADA) gene, which is responsible for the production of ADA. This deficiency, which usually manifests in children before the age of 6 months — but can appear later in childhood in 10 to 15 percent of cases — causes serious repercussions, and may even cause fatalities.
ADA is especially vital in the proper function of the immune system by promoting deoxyadenosine breakdown. Without this compound, metabolites start building up in the body, leading to fatal immune system damage. It is one of the leading causes of severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), which is responsible for a considerable amount of infant death, especially if left undiagnosed. Patients are unable to fight off any type of infection or virus, leading them to eventually develop lung damage and malnutrition.
The treatment for this condition requires the restoration of the immune system, which is usually done through enzyme replacement therapy (ERT), where enzymes are placed inside the body to replace the damaged ones.4
Where Can You Get Adenosine?
Aside from supplementation, adenosine or ATP stores in the body may be boosted by adding certain foods to your diet. The good news is that there are numerous food products that contain the necessary components for ATP production.
Some of the components that directly influence ATP production in the body include CoQ10, L-Carnitine, D-ribose and omega-3 fatty acids. Before you consider getting ATP supplements, consider optimizing your diet to include foods that may help you improve your levels. The best foods that are rich in these components include meat, fish, vegetables, fruits and nuts. Specific examples include:5
How Do You Use Adenosine?
Most adenosine supplements come in ATP form. These are usually placed under the tongue and used for workout supplementation to improve muscle function and increase blood flow. On the other hand, intravenous ATP may be used by your physician to treat various serious medical conditions, such as multiple organ failure or cystic fibrosis. It is injected into your muscle to treat conditions such as bursitis and swollen tendons.6
Adenosine in AMP form may help in the treatment of shingles by speeding up healing and alleviating the pain that accompanies it. It may help prevent post-herpetic neuralgia, a common complication of shingles that cause a considerable amount of pain. When given intravenously, adenosine may help ease neuropathic pain, pulmonary hypertension and tachycardia.7
Adenosine may also be used for diagnostic purposes. In an adenosine stress test, patients are given small doses of adenosine to dilate the arteries and increase blood flow. The rush of adenosine will mimic the effects of exercise on the blood vessels, making it easier to detect blood clots and blockages.8
In addition, there is evidence that adenosine directly affects sleep quality and the circadian rhythm. Together with melatonin, adenosine regulates energy levels and fatigue through surges. Adenosine levels are the lowest during the waking hours and eventually increase throughout the day as ATP levels drop. The higher adenosine levels go, the more the body gets tired. The high levels of adenosine make it easier for people to fall asleep faster.9
Studies Conducted on Adenosine Supplements
Because adenosine is one of the most essential components of the human body, numerous studies have tackled its efficiency when in supplement form. A 2012 study shows that when taken orally, adenosine triphosphate is not bioavailable. In simpler terms, adenosine that enters through the mouth cannot be utilized by the body effectively. While some components of oral ATP may be absorbed in the gut, it is still easily metabolized before the body can even use it up.10
However, a 2013 study shows that oral supplementation of ATP may assist in increasing muscle mass, strength and power. It may also aid in preventing performance declines during increased frequency trainings.11 A 2017 study showed that ATP supplementation may help prevent exercise-induced dips in ATP, making it easier for people to perform repeated high-intensity activities.12
Adenosine Side Effects and Contraindications
Adenosine supplements, when given in excessive amounts, may cause breathing problems, chest pain and low blood pressure. They may also cause sweating and flushing, and may affect sleep.
There are documented complications with intravenous adenosine as well. Some of the most severe complications that have happened with adenosine injections are cardiac arrest, ventricular arrhythmias and myocardial infarctions. This is extremely dangerous for people who suffer from cardiovascular ischemia. Adenosine use should also be limited or completely avoided by people with the following conditions:13
• Gout — Increased adenosine levels may raise uric acid present in the bloodstream, which may trigger a gout episode or aggravate symptoms.
• Heart disease — ATP may cause reduced blood flow in the heart, heightening your risk of chest pains or even heart attacks.
Due to limited studies on its safety, pregnant women should avoid the use of this supplement or medications that contain this component. Not enough is known about this supplement and its effect on pregnancy and whether it may endanger pregnancies.
Keep Your ATP Levels Regulated With Adenosine Supplements
A considerable number of the population struggle with fatigue and energy loss, especially people who hit the gym regularly. Adenosine supplements offer a possible benefit for more efficient energy expenditure and physical endurance. However, always remember that the best way to improve your energy levels is to adopt a healthy diet and exercise regimen, which may optimize your ATP levels without the need for supplementation.
Frequently Asked Questions About Adenosine
Q: What does adenosine do?
A: Adenosine is one of the main components of ATP and AMP, compounds required for energy expenditure. ATP supplements are used to increase energy levels and improve athletic endurance, while AMP medications are given to treat numerous body conditions, including shingles.14 Studies also suggest that adenosine directly affects sleep quality — the more adenosine present in the brain, the faster someone will fall asleep.15
Q: What are adenosine supplements good for?
A: Adenosine supplements may help improve athletic performance and muscle endurance by regulating ATP levels and preventing them from dipping during physical activities. Various studies have focused on other effects of adenosine on the body, yielding different results.16
Q: Is adenosine supplementation advisable?
A: The effectivity of adenosine supplements in energy boosting is unclear. Studies on this supplement have conflicting results, with some claiming that the body is not able to utilize it efficiently, while others claim that adenosine supplements may improve numerous body processes.