Glucose, ATP and Our Cells - What You Need to Know

Thyroid hormone alone is not enough to make our cells work as nature intended them to. Our cells also need an adequate supply of glucose (a form of sugar).

Each cell in our body has a cell nucleus, which contain our genes. Apart from being the mechanism that defines precisely who we are and what we look like, our genes are involved in the central function of each cell, which is the production of proteins that are specific to the type of the cell. Muscle cells produce specialised proteins. Liver cells produce their own specialised proteins and so on.

The mechanism that causes this protein generation by our genes is known as gene transcription and it only occurs as a result of thyroid hormone (most often T3) entering our cells and binding with thyroid hormone receptors in the cell nucleus.

However, this process alone is not sufficient to make us feel well. Our cells have many other entities within them. One critical entity within each cell is known as a Mitochondrion. Collectively, these are known as Mitochondria. The mitochondria are responsible for producing the chemical energy that the cell requires in order to do its job. This chemical energy comes in the form of a substance called Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP).

Without enough ATP being produced then no amount of any type of thyroid hormone will make us feel well. Consequently, it is very important for us as thyroid patients to understand how ATP is produced and how critical glucose in our cells is and what can go wrong.

Each mitochondrion requires a sufficient supply of fuel, in the form of glucose, to produce ATP. Each mitochondrion also requires thyroid hormone to function and a set of co-factors that are also critical in producing ATP. These co-factors are: L-carnitine, coenzyme Q-10, NADH, B complex vitamins, lipoic acid, magnesium and various other nutrients.

If the supply of glucose to the interior of our cells is low or any of the various co-factors that the mitochondria require are low or missing then insufficient ATP energy will be produced and someone may still feel hypothyroid even though they have either increased or changed their thyroid hormone medication. This is a crucial point to understand.