Personalized Nutrition

Dealing with Fatigue: It’s not a problem, it’s a symptom


It’s 3:15 pm, and your energy is ebbing. You need to make it through the rest of your day—you’ve got more multitasking to accomplish, so you reach for a venti latte, laced with sugary syrup, or maybe some chocolate-covered espresso beans. Over the counter caffeine tabs when you’re desperate. It gets the job done.

But is there a better solution?

The ugly side of “artificial” energy boosters

Energy Drinks

The excessive amount and caffeine and sugar in many energy drinks can make for a bad combination for many people. Most energy drinks contain sucrose (sugar), as well as glucose (a liquid form of sugar derived from grains or potatoes). Excessive sugar, like the amounts in these drinks, is not healthy for anyone’s body, cells, or microbiome. High amounts of caffeine may also be harmful, especially to those that are sensitive to caffeine, including pregnant and nursing mothers and children.


In addition to sensitivity to caffeine, coffee may not be beneficial for your body or microbiome, and may end up on your Viome “Avoid” food list. If coffee is on your Avoids, it could be because the catechols in coffee can be unfavorable to your microbiome and gut integrity function. So relying on coffee for energy could end up doing more harm than good.


Manufactured over the counter stimulants also have high amounts of caffeine in order to keep you awake and alert. They can help you stay awake, but with alarming side effects: irregular heartbeat, chest pain, flushing, rapid heartbeat, agitation, nausea, stomach upset, or trouble sleeping.

Fatigue isn’t your problem. It’s a symptom.

You’re tired of not feeling rested, even after a full night’s sleep. Not having enough energy to accomplish everything you need to get done during the day. Where can you turn when you experience this constant fatigue, if not the stimulants that get you through your day?

Turns out, your own body has the answers.

Our Translational Science team, led by our Chief Translational Science Officer Ally Perlina, has been digging deep into the science of energy production and mitochondrial health. Here are some of their exciting nutritional finds:

human cell mitochondria

Your body naturally creates energy in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is produced by the mitochondria that live within the cells of your body. Mitochondria - the powerhouse of the cell, is a specialized cell organelle which is capable of undergoing biogenesis (growth and division of pre-existing mitochondria) independent of cell division, in order to meet the changing cellular energy requirements. Cell’s energy production needs are are largely met through a process called cellular respiration which involves three main pathways:

  • Glycolysis : metabolic pathway that converts glucose into pyruvate while producing ATP

  • TCA Cycle : also known as "Kreb's cycle,” the aerobic process which involves a series of enzymatic steps; catabolizes pyruvate to CO2 and H2O

  • Electron Transport Chain (ETC) : potential energy stored in the reduced coenzymes, is used to drive the synthesis of large amounts of ATP

The supply of essential nutrients is key for the smooth functioning of mitochondria and the cellular respiration (energy production) process. When you don’t have the specific nutrition that your body needs, your mitochondria can’t get the proper building blocks to produce ATP to give you the energy you need to get your day to day activities done, for example:

  • B vitamins: Thiamine (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin (B3), Pantothenic acid (B5), vitamin B6 are essential coenzymes in the TCA cycle. Deficiency in B vitamins can negatively impact metabolism and mitochondrial production of energy.1

  • Coenzyme Q 10 (CoQ10) is a naturally occurring molecule that plays a key role in Electron Transport Chain pathway and ATP production in mitochondria. When CoQ10 is depleted energy production in cells is reduced leading to fatigue symptoms consistently reported in CoQ10-deficient populations.2

The essential nutrients enhancing energy production can be provided either as supplements or in a form of foods that contain specific ingredients that enhance cellular respiration pathways and mitochondrial health.

Dietary supplements with Resveratrol, NAD+ precursors, and Fisetin can improve mitochondrial energy production by activating Sirtuins, which inturn activates the master regulator of mitochondrial biogenesis called PGC-1 alpha (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1 alpha) downstream. Some energy-boosting food sources include pistachios , grapes, spinach, broccoli, tomato, as they contain ingredients that boost cellular respiration pathways and healthy mitochondrial functioning.3,4

For example, pistachio is a natural source of CoQ10 , while grapes and berries contain polyphenol resveratrol . Upon intake, both CoQ10 and resveratrol enhance energy production and mitochondrial health by activating (i) mitochondrial biogenesis through PGC-1 alpha pathways and (ii) the expression of critical mitochondrial antioxidant enzymes, such as superoxide dismutase 2 (SOD-2).5

Other foods like spinach , broccoli, and tomato, contain alpha-lipoic acid ( ALA ) as an active ingredient, which is essential for energy production and can also act as antioxidant. ALA's role in energy production involves being a critical cofactor for key cellular and mitochondrial enzymes (such as pyruvate dehydrogenase/ PDH, alpha-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase/ alpha-KGDH, and branched-chain ketoacid dehydrogenase/ BCKDC).6

Different people need different nutrients, which can be recommended from food and/or supplement sources to address cellular needs on a molecular level. While some people may show the need for enhancing energy production pathway activities, others necessitate specific antioxidant and mitochondrial biogenesis support. In some cases the same nutrient can be recommended for different reasons to different individuals. For instance, while one person may need resveratrol as a supplement for addressing oxidative stress, others may benefit from resveratrol or another nutrient needed to support mitochondrial biogenesis via consumption of grapes or dark berries to support mitochondrial health and energy generation for your body.

What nutrients give YOU energy, naturally?

As you can see above, there are plenty of foods and supplements out there that can supply your body and mitochondria with the building blocks to produce abundant energy, rather than from stimulants that merely “keep you going.”

Knowing which foods contain the best sources of nutrition that assist your energy-producing mitochondria is essential. BUT—not all foods or even all nutritional supplements are right for every person. HOW do you find out exactly what your body, gut microbiome, and mitochondria needs from you to produce an ample amount of ATP?

Precision Nutrition—Delivered

Viome can help you find out which superfoods are best for you by measuring your body’s current state of health (find out more about that here!).

We do this by using the breakthrough technology within our Health Intelligence™ service. By supplying us with two small samples (blood and stool), we are able to analyze your body, cells, mitochondria, and gut microbiome health on a molecular level.

This proprietary analysis allows our AI platform to formulate scores that report results on 30 different areas in your health, including:

  • Mitochondrial Health — assesses the efficiency of the functions of your mitochondria that are required to meet your body’s energy and metabolic demands.

  • Cellular Health — offers a complete picture of what is happening in the human body on the cellular level and takes into account the aging of your cells, cellular stress, cellular inflammation along with the health of your mitochondria.

  • Mitochondrial Biogenesis Pathways — assesses the activity levels of molecular pathways needed to biologically generate and maintain cellular functions of your mitochondria to meet your body’s energy and metabolic demands.

  • Energy Production pathways — evaluates the efficiency of your cell’s ability to convert carbohydrates (glucose) into energy molecules that fuel our cells (ATP).

These scores also inform the recommendations that give you specific food lists of those to Avoid, Minimize, Enjoy, and Superfoods to help improve any scores that might not be optimal. To round out your precision nutrition recommendations, Viome also lists specific nutritional supplements to fill in those gaps where you can’t get all the nutrients you need from food alone.

So, turns out you don’t need to turn to that grande macchiato every day to boost and sustain your energy. Abundant, natural energy, produced by your own body is possible. You just need a little help finding out what superfoods and nutritional supplements are the best for you for support of that energy. Find out more about our Health Intelligence service and get started on your journey to better health and boosted energy today.

  1. Kennedy, David O. “B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy--A Review.” Nutrients 8, no. 2 (January 27, 2016): 68.

  2. Filler, Kristin, Debra Lyon, James Bennett, Nancy McCain, Ronald Elswick, Nada Lukkahatai, and Leorey N. Saligan. “Association of Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Fatigue: A Review of the Literature.” BBA Clinical 1 (June 1, 2014): 12–23.

  3. Spanier, G., H. Xu, N. Xia, S. Tobias, S. Deng, L. Wojnowski, U. Forstermann, and H. Li. “Resveratrol Reduces Endothelial Oxidative Stress by Modulating the Gene Expression of Superoxide Dismutase 1 (SOD1), Glutathione Peroxidase 1 (GPx1) and NADPH Oxidase Subunit (Nox4).” Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology: An Official Journal of the Polish Physiological Society 60 Suppl 4 (October 2009): 111–16.

  4. Chuang, Yao-Chung, Shang-Der Chen, Chung-Yao Hsu, Shu-Fang Chen, Nai-Ching Chen, and Shuo-Bin Jou. “Resveratrol Promotes Mitochondrial Biogenesis and Protects against Seizure-Induced Neuronal Cell Damage in the Hippocampus Following Status Epilepticus by Activation of the PGC-1α Signaling Pathway.” International Journal of Molecular Sciences 20, no. 4 (February 25, 2019): 998.

  5. Tian, Geng, Jinko Sawashita, Hiroshi Kubo, Shin-ya Nishio, Shigenari Hashimoto, Nobuyoshi Suzuki, Hidekane Yoshimura, et al. “Ubiquinol-10 Supplementation Activates Mitochondria Functions to Decelerate Senescence in Senescence-Accelerated Mice.” Antioxidants & Redox Signaling 20, no. 16 (June 2014): 2606–20.

  6. Ong, Sharon L. H., Harpreet Vohra, Yi Zhang, Matthew Sutton, and Judith A. Whitworth. “The Effect of Alpha-Lipoic Acid on Mitochondrial Superoxide and Glucocorticoid-Induced Hypertension.” Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity 2013 (2013): 1–9.

The information on the Viome website is provided for informational purposes only and with the understanding that Viome is not engaged in rendering medical advice or recommendations. Viome is providing this educational information to share the exciting developments being reported in the scientific literature about the human microbiome and your health. Viome products are not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease.