Natural Health and Wellness for the Whole Family

Boost Energy and Defy Aging with Mitochondrial Support

By Sarah Axtell, ND November 3, 2017

Mitochondria are the power plants that keep our cells going and perform many of the functions that are vital to health. They are tiny compartments inside our cells that are in essence the “engine” to our lives. Functions of mitochrondria include:

  • Detoxification– mitochondria detoxify poisons that get into our blood and therefore our cells.
  • Production of energy– Food energy is converted by the mitochrondia into ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate). ATP drives the creation of proteins, antibodies, cell walls, and new cells.
  • Signaling cell death (keeping cancer cells in check)– mitochrondira provide the signal to the cell to indicate that it is time to die at an appropriate time. This is important because when left unchecked, a cell becomes “immortal” and can become cancer.

Mitochondrial dysfunction occurs when this “cellular engine” is damaged, imparting less energy and also creating toxic by-products. This can occur from environmental toxicity (herbicides and pesticides/ “Roundup”), medications (chemotherapy, for example), stress, and deficient micronutrient intake. Mitochondrial dysfunction has been implicated as an underlying cause of:

  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • MS
  • Autism
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cancer
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • Parkinson’s
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Migraines
  • Muscular Dystrophy

How to Support Your Mitochondria

  1. Exercise: moderate exercise can strengthen the performance of the mitochondria. Aim for 30-40 minutes 4 days a week.
  2. Intermittent Fasting: When the body fasts, mitochondria has the opportunity to do “deep-cleaning” in a process called mitophagy.  This is where the mitochondria can remove unwanted and damaged debris.
  3. Anti-Inflammatory Diet: When the mitochondria make ATP, a small amount of toxic free radicals are generated, Antioxidants from colorful fruits and vegetables make it easier for the mitochondria to neutralize the free radicals.
  4. Specific Nutrients:
    • B vitamins– B vitamins support mitochondrial function in the brain. Without B vitamins, it is more difficult for mitochondria to generate ATP (energy). Vitamin B12 and thiamin (Vitamin B1) help the brain cells make myelin to insulate the nerve. This is specially important for individuals with MS. Roboflavin (Vitamin B2) is especially important for the elimination of toxins. Riboflavin deficiency has been associated with poor mitochondrial health and increased oxidative stress.
    • CoQ10– CoQ10 is an important ingredient in the mitochondrial process to generate ATP. It is also a potent intracellular antioxidant. It is one of the best nutrients to support the cardiovascular system. I have also used it successfully to reduce the severity of migraines and dementia.
    • Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)– ALA improves mitochondrial function specifically in the brain. It can improve cognitive function and nerve damage. It is also an antioxidant that protects the cells when an in individual is undergoing chemotherapy or post-cancer treatment to support the mitochondria.
    • Acetyl-L-carnitine– L-carnitine assists the mitochondria with utilizing fatty acids as a source of energy. Both L-carnitine and ALA have been shown to protect mitochondria and slow the effect of aging in animals. Now this is anti-aging!

Chronic disease prevention and treatment should include specific mitochondrial support. Eat lots of vegetables, get plenty of sleep, move everyday, and take certain nutrients (after discussing with your doc) to power up these cellular powerhouses.

Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.


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