What Are Mitochondria? The Powerhouse of the Cell
Mitochondria are bean-shaped organelles that float freely inside almost every cell in our body. They are the site of many life-sustaining biochemical reactions.
To function at our best, we need energy.
Mitochondria - you might remember them from high school biology class. They are bean-shaped organelles that float freely inside almost every one of our 37 trillion cells and they’re responsible for generating the energy our cells, organs and tissues need to function effectively.
Essentially, mitochondria are tiny power plants, that combine the food we eat with the oxygen we breathe and turn this into the fuel our cells need to work - and we need to live.
Mitochondria have a double membrane, which is a unique feature that enables them to perform a number of special biochemical reactions - such as cellular respiration, which is the name given to the body’s energy production process. The fuel we produce is called Adenosine Triphosphate, or ATP. ATP is considered by scientists to be the energy currency of life.
Energy fuels all of our life support activities.
On average, we produce our own body weight in ATP each day. Without ATP our heart won’t beat, our muscles won’t contract, we won’t see, we won’t heal, we won’t keep our body at 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit; we’d be unable to chew, digest, or absorb nutrients. In short, when our ATP falls below a certain level, we die.
Not surprisingly, cells that require the most energy - such as the brain, heart, skeletal muscles and the eye - contain the most mitochondria. Mitochondria have their own DNA and RNA, so can replicate and boost their numbers in response to increased energy demands of the cell, such as after repeated muscle contraction.
A word about free radicals – they might be free, but they can be costly.
The cellular energy generation process produces a potentially damaging by-product, called a free radical. Free radicals can damage the walls of our mitochondria, which are needed to protect the delicate machinery that manufactures the ATP.
If the mitochondrial wall is damaged, this machinery can be exposed to free radical damage. This causes wear and tear and can lead to less energy being produced. To make matters worse, if the mitochondrial wall is compromised, some free radicals can leak into the cell and damage the delicate equipment within it.
The good news is that mitochondria are clever: they stack themselves with a naturally-produced antioxidant called CoQ10 and use it to line the mitochondrial walls with a defensive barrier. This helps to neutralize the destructive free radicals and minimizes any negative impact on energy production, as well as potential damage to the cells.
It’s as simple as this: for our bodies to perform properly, we need our mitochondria working like a finely tuned engine.
For some time, scientists have recognized the link between mitochondrial function and our health.
As we age, the level of CoQ10 produced inside our mitochondria declines. When the level of CoQ10 declines to a point where it cannot counteract the damaging effects of free radicals, it places our cells in a state of oxidative stress. We don’t notice it immediately, but over time, we start to have less energy, we don’t recover from as quickly from injury or illness and we feel more tired.
In fact, it is now recognized that when mitochondria are unable to function at their best, this can be a significant cause of many serious health conditions; in the developed world, this includes seven of the top ten most costly to human life. It has become increasingly evident that our overall health and wellbeing and even how fast we age, are closely related to how well our mitochondria are performing. So mitochondrial dysfunction is something to very much guard against.
We are just discovering the superpowers of our mitochondria.
Although mitochondria were discovered over 100 years ago, scientists have only recently begun to decipher the many essential tasks performed by these impressive and invaluable organelles.
In addition to energy production and cell protection, scientists now know that mitochondria are more than just the powerhouse of the cell. They are vital for calcium regulation, cell specialization, DNA and RNA production, cell growth and cell regeneration. They send messages to the nucleus and other structures in the cell which modify cellular activities. The ability of cells to correctly “hear” these messages determines how well our bodies grow, repair themselves and fight off infection.
The world is waking up to the importance of the mighty mitochondria; there is growing awareness of how critical they are for life - therefore, we need to look after them as much as possible.
It’s no surprise that all the components of a healthy lifestyle – a good diet, regular exercise and adequate sleep – will certainly provide an environment in which your mitochondria can thrive. But it’s important to note that even if you look after your mitochondria their performance still declines naturally as you age. Therefore, taking a supplement that supports your mitochondrial performance is the very best strategy to help you maintain energy levels and support optimal wellbeing.
MitoQ is a world-first, mitochondria-rejuvenating CoQ10 antioxidant.
Mitochondria And Their Function?
Although mitochondria were discovered over 100 years ago, scientists have only recently begun to decipher the many life-giving, and life-taking, secrets of these bean-shaped organelles.
Mitochondria are roughly the size of bacteria and float in the cytoplasm of almost every cell in the human body. They possess the unique characteristic of having a double membrane which allows them to perform a number of different biochemical reactions; one of the most important is cellular respiration. Cellular respiration is the most efficient way for the body to convert carbohydrates, fats, and proteins from the food we eat into fuel for cells. This fuel is called adenosine triphosphate or ATP.
ATP is considered by biologists to be the energy currency of life. Cells that require the most energy - such as the brain, heart, skeletal muscles, and the eye - contain the most mitochondria. Mitochondria have their own DNA and RNA so can increase their numbers in response to increased energy demands of the cell, such as after repeated muscle contraction.
Scientists now know that mitochondria are more than just the powerhouse of the cell. They are vital for calcium regulation, cell specialization, DNA and RNA production, cell growth, and also cell death. They send messages to the nucleus and other structures in the cell which modify cellular activities. The ability of cells to correctly “hear” these messages determines how well our bodies grow, repair themselves and fight off infection.
Dysfunctional mitochondria send incorrect messages, disrupt ATP production, and produce more waste in the form of free radicals. Defective mitochondria replicate their own damaged DNA into new mitochondria, eventually displacing all well-performing mitochondria. Many health conditions and even aging have been associated with mitochondrial dysfunction.
Scientists are only just realizing how vulnerable mitochondria are to subtle changes in their environment. Pollution, drugs, and low concentrations of antioxidants such as coenzyme Q10 can all affect performance.
MitoQ’s special formulation releases CoQ deep inside mitochondria, replenishing levels of this vital antioxidant right where it is needed the most.
Along with a healthy diet and exercise, MitoQ can help protect your mitochondria from both free radical and environmental damage.
Smith R, Hartley R, Cocheme H, Murphy M. Mitochondrial pharmacology. Trends in Pharmacological Sciences 2012;33(6):341-352
Smith R, Murphy M. Animal and human studies with the mitochondria-targeted antioxidant MitoQ. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 2010;1201:96-103
28 things you probably didn’t know about MitoQ
Scientists confirm safety of MitoQ and kidney health