Mitochondrial health is one of the most important and rarely discussed factors in your health and energy. The mitochondria are the powerhouse of your cells that serve a variety of functions and which help to create health in your body.
However, mitochondria are highly sensitive to damage. When they are compromised and not working properly, you may develop a health problem. Poorly functioning mitochondria can result in fatigue, muscle aches and pain, digestive problems, respiratory problems, and an array of other symptoms as well as an increased risk of diseases.
In this blog, I want to share with you what mitochondria are, their major functions, the symptoms of mitochondrial problems and potential causes of these problems. Most importantly, you will learn some effective strategies to improve your mitochondrial health and cellular energy.
What Are Mitochondria
Mitochondria are specialized structures found in every cell of the human body with the exception of red blood cells. Mitochondria contain their own DNA.
Mitochondria are basically the powerhouse of your cells that serve as batteries to power a variety of functions in your body. They are responsible for generating 90% of cellular energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and for assisting metabolic functions.
Mitochondria are located in differing concentrations in various tissues throughout the body and are designed to serve the purpose of those specific tissues. For example, the mitochondria in your liver help to convert ammonia into a less toxic waste substance (1, 2).
Major Functions of the Mitochondria
The two main functions of the mitochondria include cellular respiration and energy production. These two functions are the main reason you need to both breathe and eat. Your mitochondria require both oxygen from air and glucose and fat from food in order to generate energy in the form of ATP (3).
Besides energy production and cellular respiration, the mitochondria play a role in other functions, including calcium homeostasis, cell growth, and cell death.
Symptoms of Mitochondrial Problems
There may be various symptoms of mitochondrial health problems depending on the person and which organs the mitochondrial issues affect. Symptoms become more noticeable when there are many damaged cells suffering from mitochondrial damage in one organ (6, 7).
In some cases, mitochondrial problems only affect one single organ or one group of tissues. In other cases, they may affect multiple organs and entire systems. Those who have a mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutation may experience a cluster of symptoms that relate to a specific syndrome (7).
Though they may present at birth, mitochondrial problems and diseases can develop at any age. Mitochondrial diseases may affect any cells and any part of your body, including the cells of your heart, kidneys, liver, pancreas, muscles, brain, nerves, eyes, or ears. A variety of conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, cancer, autoimmune conditions, migraine headaches, cardiovascular disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, metabolic syndrome, and many more diseases, can lead to secondary mitochondrial dysfunction without the existence of primary mitochondrial disease and related symptoms (7).
Symptoms of Mitochondrial Problems May Include:
- Chronic Fatigue
- Digestive problems, such as diarrhea, constipation, and acid reflux
- Muscle aches, pains, and weakness
- Cardiovascular problems and heart disease
- Liver disease or dysfunction
- Kidney disease
- Neurological problems
- Autoimmune conditions
- Migraine headaches
- Alzheimer’s disease
- And many more diseases
Main Causes of Mitochondrial Problems
Mitochondrial problems may develop for a variety of reasons, including:
- Genetic Issues
- Toxin Exposure
- Chronic Infections
- Poor Lifestyle Habits
If you are experiencing symptoms of mitochondrial problems, I highly recommend getting a comprehensive Organic Acid Test (OAT) done to look for biomarkers of Kreb Cycle Dysfunction. I absolutely love this test, because it provides so much information, including neurotransmitter factors, oxidative stress, gut health, methylation factors, and more within one simple test.
If you don’t like needles, this test is perfect for you. It is a simple urine test that looks at complex biomarkers from various metabolic pathways. These organic acid biomarkers are metabolic intermediates that are produced in pathways of central energy production, neurotransmitter breakdown, detoxification, and intestinal microbial activity. When specific organic acids are found accumulating, they often signal a metabolic insufficiency that may be related to nutritional deficiency, toxicity or an inherited enzyme deficit.
Biomarkers That The OAT Measures Include:
- Mitochondrial energy production assessment via citric acid cycle components
- Neurotransmitter metabolites to assess central nervous system (CNS) function
- Vitamin and mineral insufficiencies
- Amino acid insufficiencies, such as carnitine and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC)
- Oxidative damage and antioxidant sufficiency markers
- Indicators to assess detoxification sufficiency
- The best functional markers for b-complex deficiency
- Lipoic acid and Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) sufficiency markers
- Specific dysbiosis markers for bacterial and yeast overgrowth
- Methylation sufficiency status
Strategies to Improve Mitochondrial Health
Using some simple and natural strategies, you can improve your mitochondrial health and reduce the risk of mitochondrial problems and symptoms. My five favorite dietary and lifestyle strategies include a nutrient-rich nutrition plan, regular exercise, reducing stress, improving sleep, intermittent and extended fasting, and using key mitochondrial support nutrients.
- Anti-Inflammatory, Nutrient Dense Nutrition Plan
- Regular Moment and High intensity Exercise
- Reduce Stress and Improve Sleeping Habits
- Intermittent Fasting
- Use Key Mitochondrial Support Nutrients
The mitochondria are the powerhouse of your cells that serve a variety of functions and help to create health in your body, including energy production and cellular energy. Poorly functioning mitochondria can increase your risk of disease and can result in fatigue, muscle aches and pain, digestive problems, respiratory problems, and other symptoms.
Call today to get your testing underway!
- Massachusetts CFIDS/ME & FM Association: Mitochondrial Dysfunction. Link Here
- United Mitochondrial Health Disease Foundation Link Here
- Overview of mitochondria structure and function. Experimental Biosciences. Link Here
- Duchen, MR. Mitochondria and calcium: from cell signalling to cell death. J Physiol. 2000 Nov 15; 529(Pt 1): 57–68. PMID: 11080251
- Mozo, J, Emre, Y, Bouillaud, F, Ricquier, D, Criscuolo, F. Thermoregulation: what role for UCPs in mammals and birds? Biosci Rep. 2005 Jun-Aug;25(3-4):227-49. PMID: 16283555
- Mitochondrial health myopathies. Muscular Dystrophy Association. Link Here
- Mitochondrial health diseases. Cleveland Clinic. Link Here
- IARC classifies radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possible carcigenic to humans. World Health Organization: International Agency for Research on Cancer. Link Here
- Hardbower, DM, de Sablet, T, Chaturvedi, R, Wilson, KT. Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress. Gut Microbes. 2013 Nov 1; 4(6): 475–481. PMID: 23811829
- How chronic infections can outsmart the immune system. Institut national de la recherche scientifique – INRS. Link Here
- Ivanov, AV, Bartosch, B, Isaguliants, MG. Oxidative stress in infection and consequent disease. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2017; 2017: 3496043. PMID: 28255425
- Epstein-Barr virus protein can “switch on” risk genes for autoimmune diseases. National Institute for Health. Link Here
- Basic Report: 05028, Chicken, liver, all classes, cooked, simmered. United States Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service. Link Here
- Menshikova, EV, Ritov, VB, Fairfull, L, Ferrell, RE, Kelley, DE, Goodpaster, BH. Effects of Exercise on Mitochondrial Content and Function in Aging Human Skeletal Muscle. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2006. PMID: 16799133
- Pitceathly, R. D., & Viscomi, C. (2016). Effects of ketosis in mitochondrial myopathy: potential benefits of a mitotoxic diet. EMBO Molecular Medicine, 8(11), 1231–1233. PMID: 27729389
- Ahola-Erkkilä, S, Carroll, CJ, Peltola-Mjösund, K, Tulkki, V, Mattila, I, Seppänen-Laakso, T, Oresic, M, Tyynismaa, H, Suomalainen, A. Ketogenic diet slows down mitochondrial myopathy progression in mice. Hum Mol Genet. 2010 May 15;19(10):1974-84. PMID: 20167576
- Gano, LB, Patel, M, Rho, JM. Ketogenic diets, mitochondria, and neurological diseases. J Lipid Res. 2014 Nov;55(11):2211-28. PMID: 24847102
- New Survey: To Sit or Stand? Almost 70% of Full Time American Workers Hate Sitting, but They do it all Day Every Day. Ciston. Link Here.
- Robinson, MM. Dasari, S, Konopka, R, Carter, RE, Lanza, IR, Nair, KS. Enhanced Protein Translation Underlies Improved Metabolic and Physical Adaptations to Different Exercise Training Modes in Young and Old Humans. Cell Metabolism. Link Here
- Picard, M, McEwen, BS. Psychological Stress and Mitochondria: A Systematic Review. Psychosom Med. 2018 Feb-Mar; 80(2): 141–153. PMID: 29389736
- Cristensen, B. How poor sleep affects your body. ScienceNordic. Link Here
- Rodrigues, NR, Macedo, GE, Martins, IK, Gomes, KK, de Carvalho, NR, Posser, T, Franco, JL. Short-term sleep deprivation with exposure to nocturnal light alters mitochondrial bioenergetics in Drosophila. Free Radical Biology and Medicine. Volume 120, 20 May 2018, Pages 395-406. Link Here
- 1. McInnes J. Mitochondrial-associated metabolic disorders: foundations, pathologies and recent progress. Nutrition & Metabolism. 2013 Oct;10:63. DOI: 1186/1743-7075-10-63
24.. Ding WX, and Yin XM. Mitophagy: mechanisms, pathophysiological roles, and analysis. Biol Chem. 2012 Jul;393(7):547-564. PMCID: 3630798
- Lopez-Lluch, G, Hunt, N., Jones, B, Zhu, M, Jamieson, H, Hilmer, S, Cascajo, MV, Allard, J, Ingram, K, Navas, P, de Cabo, R. Calorie restriction induces mitochondrial biogenesis and bioenergetic efficiency. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Feb 7; 103(6): 1768–1773. PMID: 16446459
- Pamplona, R, Barja, G. Mitochondrial oxidative stress, aging and caloric restriction: The protein and methionine connection. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) – Bioenergetics. Volume 1757, Issues 5–6, May–June 2006, Pages 496-508. Link Here
- Examine: Coenzyme Q10 Link Here
- Pekala J, Patkowska-Sokoła B, Bodkowski R, Jamroz D, Nowakowski P, Lochyński S, Librowski T. L-carnitine–metabolic functions and meaning in humans life. Curr Drug Metab. 2011 Sep;12(7):667-78. PMID: 21561431
- Kraemer WJ, Volek JS, Dunn-Lewis C. L-carnitine supplementation: influence upon physiological function. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2008 Jul-Aug;7(4):218-23. PMID: 18607224
- Vitamin B and folic acid. NHS. Link Here
- Kreider, RD. Effects of creatine supplementation on performance and training adaptations. Mol Cell Biochem. 2003 Feb;244(1-2):89-94. PMID: 12701815
- Matthews, RT, Ferrante, RJ, Klivenyi, P, Yang, L, Klein, AM, Mueller, G, Kaddurah-Daouk, R, Beal, MF.Creatine and cyclocreatine attenuate MPTP neurotoxicity. Exp Neurol. 1999 May;157(1):142-9. PMID: 10222117
- Buford, TW, Kreider, RB, Stout, JR, Greenword, M, Campbell, B, Spano, M, Zeigenfuss, T, Lopez, H, Landis, J, Antonio, J. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2007; 4: 6. PMID: 17908288
- Lea MA, Pourat J, Patel R, desBordes C. Growth inhibition of colon cancer cells by compounds affecting AMPK activity. World J Gastrointest Oncol. 2014 Jul 15;6(7):244-52. PMID: 25024815
- Kuptniratsaikul, V, Thanakhumtorn, S, Chinswangwatanakul, P, Wattanamongkonsil, L, Thamlikitkul, V. Efficacy and safety of Curcuma domestica extracts in patients with knee osteoarthritis. J Altern Complement Med. PMID: 19678780
- Hanai, H, Iida, T, Takeuchi, K, Watanabe, F, Maruyama, Y, Andoh, A, Tsujikawa, T, Fujiyama, Y, Mitsuyama, K, Sata, M, Yamada, M, Iwaoka, Y, Kanke, K, Hiraishi, H, Hirayama, K, Arai, H, Yoshii, S, Uchijima, M, Nagata, T, Koide, Y. Curcumin maintenance therapy for ulcerative colitis: randomized, multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. PMID: 17101300
- Khajehdehi, P, Pakfetrat, M, Javidnia, K, Azad, F, Malekmakan, L, Nasab, MH, Dehghanzadeh, G. Oral supplementation of turmeric attenuates proteinuria, transforming growth factor-β and interleukin-8 levels in patients with overt type 2 diabetic nephropathy: a randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled study. Scand J Urol Nephrol. PMID: 21627399
- Belcaro, G, Cesarone, MR, Dugall, M, Pellegrini, L, Ledda, A, Grossi, MG, Togni, S, Appendino, G.Efficacy and safety of Meriva®, a curcumin-phosphatidylcholine complex, during extended administration in osteoarthritis patients. Altern Med Rev. PMID: 21194249
- Khajehdehi, P, Zanjaninejad, B, Aflaki, E, Nazarinia, M, Azad, F, Malekmakan, L, Dehghanzadeh, GR. Oral supplementation of turmeric decreases proteinuria, hematuria, and systolic blood pressure in patients suffering from relapsing or refractory lupus nephritis: a randomized and placebo-controlled study. J Ren Nutr. PMID: 21742514
- Teitelbaum, JE, Johnson, C, St Cyr, J. The use of D-ribose in chr