Frequently described as the most complex thing humans have ever discovered, your brain is an incredible organ. It’s packed full of cells that, ultimately, impact the life you live. These cells, named neurons, are responsible for relaying information throughout your brain – information that allows you to think, move, make decisions, develop a career and interact with loved ones. Needless to say, these special little cells are seriously important. Keeping them in optimal health is crucial to keeping up with your brain’s high energy demands so that you can perform at your best in the areas of life that matter to you most.
So what exactly do neurons do, and how can you take care of them? Keep reading to find out.
What is a neuron and how does it function?
If you were to zoom into the wrinkles and folds of your brain, you would find an endless forest of tiny individual cells: neurons. Neurons (or nerve cells) are the main players in your central nervous system (CNS), which includes your brain and spinal cord. As tiny cellular messengers, they transmit information all over your brain using electrical impulses and chemical signals. Neurons link up to form information highways through the brain, known as neural circuits.
Each individual neuron can be broken down even further into its basic parts, resembling the foliage, trunk, and roots of a tree. The dendrites (foliage) receive messages from neighboring neurons. The axon (trunk) transmits these messages, carrying them down to the axon terminals (roots), where they’re passed to the dendrites of the next neuron. The whole process is cleverly regulated by a miniature control center in each cell: the nucleus, which contains all the cell’s genetic information and allows it to produce any proteins and chemicals as needed. The messages that jump from one axon to the neighboring dendrites in this expansive forest of neurons are actually chemicals called neurotransmitters.
This amazing process that’s going on in your head right now is what makes it possible for you to absorb this article – possibly alongside an array of other tasks that your neurons are currently helping with: such as drinking a cup of coffee, minding your children or tapping along to background music. The small daily actions that add up to form your life, ultimately, are thanks to these tiny cellular messengers.
What types of neurons are there?
Neurons are potentially the most diverse cells in the body, capable of operating in different forms and taking on specific types of messages. Each one is as unique as a fingerprint. All of those little differences in size, shape, and function add up, creating infinite combinations that result in every person on the planet thinking, feeling, and behaving in their own distinctive way.
Nonetheless, we can broadly categorize neurons into three main types:
- Sensory neurons
- Motor neurons
Sensory neurons pass information from your outside and inside world to the brain for processing. If you touch something hot, see a spider, or hear your name, this information is instantly conveyed to your central nervous system (CNS) for a light-speed response.
Motor neurons pass instructions from the brain to skeletal muscles (the types found in your arm or leg), organs, and glands. Some of these motor neurons are super long – the longest one runs from the base of your spine all the way down to your feet, so that you can wiggle your toes on command!
Interneurons are only found in the CNS, where they act as middlemen, receiving and transmitting information from one neuron to another. These interneurons are super abundant, ready to help with anything from instant reflexes to forming complex problem-solving.
Why are neurons so important?
Neurons allow us to move through the world, translating our sensory cues into thoughts and actions via a series of neural circuits. Although one neuron can’t do much on its own, the brain’s network of neurons has extraordinary power, ultimately coordinating all of the necessary functions within your body and mind. They’re constantly working away and influencing your mental focus, emotions, interactions, goals, and how you respond to each moment. In short, they’re imperative to your quality of life.
How many neurons are in the brain?
Mapping the brain’s neurons is a bit like mapping the stars in the galaxy: an enormous and daunting task. A 2009 study estimated a staggering 86 billion neurons in the human brain, not to mention another ~84 billion non-neuronal cells.
Scientists have long believed that every person is born with all the neurons they’ll ever have. For the most part, this theory remains true, as neurons do not self-renew. But rest assured – evidence has emerged to show that adults could produce new neurons in the hippocampus, a region of the brain associated with learning and memory.
When a neuron is born, it migrates to its rightful place in the brain by gliding along fibers like a cellular handrail or following the guidance of chemical tour guides. It’s thought that about a third of all neurons produced will die on the journey.
Humans also lose neurons over the course of a lifetime as part of a normal process. The use it or lose it theory states that neurons are kept alive and firing by continual, active learning. Even so, neurons are the longest-lived cells in our body. Fascinating (and slightly macabre) evidence suggests that neurons can even outlive the body that contains them if transplanted into a longer-living host, proving they have no definite lifespan.
How can MitoQ support neuron health?
A single neuron can contain hundreds to thousands of mitochondria. Multiply that by 86 billion, and it’s clear that mitochondria have a super important role in the brain. The mitochondria in the brain are constantly involved in energy production throughout your whole life – which results in free radical production. Left unchecked, these free radicals can damage your neurons and cause cell stress. Because your brain requires so much energy, free radicals are constantly being produced – making your brain particularly vulnerable to cell stress.
The impact of free radical damage is not distributed uniformly in the brain. Certain regions like the hippocampus and cells within the cerebellum (which determines physical movement, balance, and posture) are thought to be among the first to undergo functional declines due to cell stress.
So how can you keep these free radicals in check? MitoQ is bio-designed to be electro-chemically pulled deep inside your cells where its support is needed most. Once inside your mitochondria, MitoQ is scientifically shown to combat cell stress by neutralizing free radicals. This starts a positive domino effect that energizes your cells from within, optimizing your cell health to promote sustained mental focus and healthy aging.
At work and in daily life, your brain requires massive amounts of energy to keep you powered throughout the day. One small step creates a big impact. MitoQ helps to keep your mitochondria healthy so your neurons can work better for longer, putting more life in your years.
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