molecular structure of atp

It is considered by biologists to be the energy currency of life. No less. It is the high-energy molecule that stores the energy we need to do just about everything we do. What is it? Adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

What is ATP?

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the main energy source for the majority of cellular and muscular functions. This includes the synthesis of DNA. Living things use ATP like a battery – storing and using energy when needed and, it seems, in complex ways (a sprinter will use ATP very differently from a marathon runner).

The ATP molecule is composed of three components.  At the center is a sugar molecule, ribose (the same sugar that forms the basis of DNA).  There is a base (a group consisting of linked rings of carbon and nitrogen atoms); in this case the base is adenine. The third is a string of phosphate groups. These phosphates are the key to the activity of ATP.

Our bodies and ATP

You’d think that something so vital would be stored up. However, we do not store ATP but manufacture it on an as needed basis via ATP Synthesis (ATP Synthase). It is a little like the process of obtaining and storing food and liquids. Although we need them to survive, we do not stash enormous quantities (camels and hibernating bears excepted) but forage for a top up every few hours.

We metabolize ATP as an energy source and then convert it back again so it is continuously recycled. And at quite a rate. The human body on average stores only 250 grams (8.8 oz) of ATP at any one time, but turns over its own body weight equivalent throughout every day.

ATP and aging

Aging is a complex thing and there are lots of things involved, but ATP or the lack

Of it, is a leading factor.

ATP and mitochondria

ATP is synthesized in the mitochondria. I’ve been writing about mitochondria for a while since they are increasingly associated with the aging process. As we age, the mitochondria in our cells develop genetic mutations that cause them to either degenerate or kick the bucket. With our diminished ability to fix these mutations, the mitochondria die and thus our cells die. So focusing on mitochondria health is one way to help keep ATP going. Exercise has a big impact, so start acting on your New Year’s resolutions.

ATP, mitochondria and skincare

Research on the effects on skin is new, but very promising. A study on rabbits encapsulated ATP in lipids and tried it on wound healing claiming that the results were “extremely” fast.

Although rarely appearing as an actual ingredient (an exception that I have found is Dermaquest), there are things that can boost ATP and mitochondria function:


LED, have significant side benefits for ATP synthesis that include increases in collagen (more than 12% in 30 days) elastin (more than 40% in 30 days) and blood circulation (more than 30% in 30 days).(source). For more information see the Truth Vitality Lux Renew


In 1982, researcher Ngok Cheng led a study that provided hard evidence of microcurrent's role in cellular vitality by proving that microcurrent increased levels of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in lab-rat skin cells by 500 percent. For more information see the Truth Rejuvenate


Ubiquinone, the active antioxidant in Coenzyme Q10. It is accumulated selectively and extensively by mitochondria, in contrast to other antioxidants, which distribute evenly throughout the cell. So look out for ubiquinone in skincare. I am particularly impressed with mitoquinone mesylate, a highly targeted version of this antioxidant. For more information see MitoQ Serum and Supplements


By speeding the delivery of fatty acids into mitochondria, ergothioneine ramps up ATP production, making the fuel molecule more available to all parts of the cell. For more information see Skinfinite Platinum 30spf.


By increasing capacity for oxygen uptake, we can create a perfect environment for ATP synthesis. Perfluorodecalin is a perfluorocarbon that mimics the blood’s ability to carry oxygen to the skin cells. It is used in wound healing therapies and for treating acne. For more information see Truth Vitality Treatment Gel