I do not understand why you could not fill a bowl full of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and eat it. Is there a way to make ATP other than inside a cell and apply it to your body by injection, ingestion, topical absorption, inhalation, or another method?

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    $\begingroup$ Sure, but going into the body via the digestive system isn't the same as the already-established route(s) bestowed upon you by the powers of evolution. Google "ATP capsules" and you'll see numerous products targeting the muscle-building crowd. The claims are somewhat dubious and, besides, digested ATP will likely by hydrolyzed to ADP + P$_{\rm i}$ and not be of much use as ATP. $\endgroup$
    – Todd Minehardt
    Jan 3, 2017 at 1:39
  • $\begingroup$ By the way, if you mean eating only ATP.. that would make not much sense. It can be vaguely thought as an electricity powering you cells' minifactories, that also need the fuel or precursors (carbohydrates, proteins/amino acids, fats, …). $\endgroup$
    – mykhal
    Sep 25, 2018 at 15:23
  • $\begingroup$ chemistry.stackexchange.com/questions/65595/… $\endgroup$
    – user68675
    Oct 6, 2018 at 11:27

4 Answers 4


To answer the question in the title:

Yes, ATP can be synthesised, isolated and you can even eat it. It would be very expensive to do so but considering others put gold on most of their food that’s not a reason in itself not to. While eating too high a dose of ATP is not beneficial as per Paracelsus’ law, small amounts are certainly not harmful.

However, ATP is rarely shuffled into or out of cells. I’m not sure whether the human body provides mechanisms to shuffle ATP across cell membranes. I highly doubt it, since ATP is typically produced cell-internally by mitochondria and what gets shuffled around via the blood stream is primarily glucose. Most transport mechanisms are adopted to that.

Furthermore, even assuming that ATP does get shuffled across cell membranes in significant amounts, eating a crumb of it would first place it into the stomach. There, in the strongly acidic environment there is practically no way that ATP won’t get hydrolysed into first adenotine and diphosphate and then further broken down. Even if some of it magically manages to get through the stomach unharmed, the slightly alkline pH of the intestines are no better and the digestive tract is swarming with enzymes designed to break down practically everything. Thus, you can be sure that ATP has been fully metabolised before the body has a chance of taking it up into the blood stream.

Some of these problems can be overcome by injecting ATP subcutanously or intravenously but the problem with getting it into the cell remains.


Expanding upon the comment above detailing how exogenous ATP isn't that great of an idea given the path of delivery, it's also important to note that our body focuses more on consumption, storage, and mobilization of fuels. The actual ATP production and utilization happens on a cell by cell basis, but fuels are moved around the entire body extracellularly.

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    $\begingroup$ What if you inject it? $\endgroup$
    – Muze
    Jan 3, 2017 at 15:17

ATP is not very orally active as it is rapidly metabolized to adenosine and further to uric acid. There are many clinical trials that have used ATP by IV infusion at a rate of 50 microgram per kilogram per minute for up to 96+ hours. However both IV and oral administration has shown an increase in RBC concentrations of ATP. This is likely due to increased uptake of adenosine that is then converted into ATP.

The AIDS Cure Research Collaborative, Inc which is the organization that I am affiliated with is exploring the use of ATP in a comprehensive cure strategy for those infected with HIV. You have one molecule that can exert many effects. ATP produces a strong pro-inflammatory response while the generation of adenosine by the system exerts a strong anti-inflammatory effect. The field of purinergic signalling is fascinating and yet fully understood.

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    $\begingroup$ Interesting! Have these clinical trials been published and if so, can you include citations? We strongly encourage citations for scientific data where possible. $\endgroup$
    – Jan
    Dec 18, 2017 at 1:57
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    $\begingroup$ Without credible sources, this is an unsubstantiated claim, that is nothing more than terrible pseudo-science. $\endgroup$ Dec 18, 2017 at 4:14
  • $\begingroup$ Here is a source authored by Marc Wagner: DOI: 10.2174/157016211796320289 and the webpage of the Collaborative. Not making claims about credibility, though. $\endgroup$ Jun 15 at 9:09


In various pathologic circumstances depolarized mitochondria are thought to precipitate cell death by avidly consuming cytosolic ATP. However, for as long as the inner mitochondrial membrane remains intact the reversal potentials of the adenine nucleotide translocase (ANT) and that of F0–F1 ATP synthase are strategically positioned so that they oppose import of cytosolic ATP into the matrix of respiration‐impaired mitochondria. This arrangement also seems to protect against a hysteretic consumption of cytosolic ATP accumulating in the mitochondrial matrix, in view of the depolarization caused by inhibition of F0–F1 ATP synthase by the endogenous protein IF1, yielding fast ANT reversal rates.
Mitochondrial consumption of cytosolic ATP: not so fast.


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