Male athlete with mitochondrial malnutrition

Longstanding Mitochondrial Malnutrition in a Young Male Athlete


My health issues started rearing their head in ninth grade, and given the vitiligo of my mother and MS (stabilized) of my father, perhaps it should not have been much of a surprise. I had mono in middle school, and then after getting a bad virus at the start of freshman year, my health deteriorated rather quickly.

Over the course of the first few years of high school, I was diagnosed with immunoglobulin deficiencies, gastritis induced anemia that was often recurrent, IBS, elevated blood sugar, insomnia, and hypothyroidism. I also developed hand tremors and was told I had SIBO. I was a student athlete and was often exercising over eight hours a week at the time. My diet in middle school represented the Standard American Diet, but after my health issues started, I ate a diet that loosely resembled the paleo diet without much benefit.

Entering college, doctors convinced me that my issues were due to malnutrition from undereating. I was encouraged to eat more and so I did. Over the next two years, I followed an unrestricted diet with a mix of junk and traditional health food. I went from 130 to 190lbs, a 60 pound weight gain. My stomach issues got better, but everything else remained the same, except I started experiencing anxiety and exhaustion. The doctors were right, but their advice was wrong. I wasn’t malnourished from a lack of food, but from a lack of the micronutrients that allow the mitochondria to convert food into energy. Looking back, it is no wonder I had no energy.

Just recently, I discovered the articles about thiamine on this website. It all began to make sense. Thiamine is a required mitochondrial nutrient, one that I was likely missing. I began thiamine and magnesium. I had previously tried magnesium, but I was intolerant to it. Since taking the duo for two weeks, I have started to notice a bit more energy, much better warmth in my extremities, and more stable blood sugar. However, that was preceded by major nausea, freezing low body temps, and worse blood sugar instability than ever suggesting a thiamine paradox at work. Here’s to hoping that this treatment works wonders going forward.

Health History

  • Current Age: 20
  • Height: 6ft
  • Gender: Male
  • Weight and body fat: 190lbs 15% Body fat

Family History

  • Mom with vitiligo
  • Dad with stabilized MS

Middle School

  • Had mono at one point, always generally had minor fatigue
  • Junk food diet

Ninth Grade

  • Got terrible stomach virus at start of year
  • Developed hand tremor
  • Found out I was anemic with collagenous gastritis. (I suspect it was actually iron overload aka Morley Robbins theory.)
  • Treated with Prilosec and iron supplements
  • Ate relatively low carb
  • Lots of tennis

Tenth Grade

  • Developed IBS
  • Discovered IGG and IGA deficiency and low vitamin D
  • Got SIBO diagnosis
  • Restricted diet even more by eliminating gluten and dairy
  • Lots of tennis and track

Eleventh Grade

  • Diagnosed hypothyroid
  • Took synthroid without success
  • Lots of tennis and track

Twelfth Grade

  • Unrestricted diet as doctors convinced me that undereating was the cause of my issues. I went from 130lbs to 160lbs.
  • Lots of tennis, track, and weightlifting

Freshman Year of College

  • Ate paleo style to drop weight, dropped to 150lbs.
  • Main issues were insomnia, chronic dry mouth, cold hands and feet, GERD, bloating, anxiety

Summer Before Sophomore Year Through End of Sophomore Year

  • Started eating a lot again, unrestricted, and went up to 175lbs over the course of a year with lots of heavy lifting
  • Fasting blood sugar of 99 and then 104
  • Same symptoms as freshman year
  • Tried things like megadosing zinc, megadosing vitamin D without success

Junior Year Through March 2021

  • Same symptoms as freshman year, but slightly improved due to nutrient density
  • Got shingles and recovered
  • Ate lots of eggs, whole milk, liver, oysters, ground beef, chocolate, liver, potatoes, rice, bagels, butter — Ray Peat style
  • Felt a bit better and warmer, but exhaustion became a symptom
  • Had negative reactions to magnesium supplements despite low RBC
  • I was trying to implement root cause protocol (Morley Robbins) after discovering my ceruloplasmin was low
  • Donated blood per Morley Robbins advice. Of all the stuff I have done, this provided the most benefit to me in terms of improved thyroid function and general sense of wellbeing, but still had tons of issues


  • Discovered thiamine and this website and began thiamine supplementation. First with thiamine mononitrate March 20, 21. Suddenly, I had energy.
  • Switched to 250 mg Benfotiamine with 120 mg magnesium on March 24th.
  • Switched again to 100 mg Thiamax with 125 mg magnesium on March 25th.

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Image by hansmarkutt from Pixabay.

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  1. Hi Keith, if you are not aware of the breadth of this forum, I suggest that you explore some of the many posts that discuss these symptoms.

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