Our brain is an amazing, intricate organ. It contains around 100 billion nerve cells, or neurons, and many times that number of support cells. Each neuron can communicate with over 10,000 other neurons making our brains the most complex structures in the known universe. Our brains are the central command system for our entire bodies and are responsible for controlling learning and memory, our senses and movement, and regulating our organs and life support systems.

Our brains use more energy than any other organ in our bodies.

Even though our brain makes up only about 2% of our body weight, it can use up to 20% of our body’s energy.  the workload, it is not surprising to discover that our brain needs plenty of horsepower.  And because the brain is such a big consumer of energy, it requires a significant and steady supply to help it perform at its best.

What role do mitochondria play in supporting brain health?

Mitochondria are the tiny power plants inside each of our cells, working hard to produce the energy we need every day.  They combine the food that we eat and the air that we breathe, to generate the energy our cells need to operate effectively.

Given the brain’s high energy demands, it has billions of mitochondria on call, working day and night to supply as much as it needs.  Sustaining optimal brain performance has far reaching implications for both our neurological health and the health of our other bodily functions – and our mitochondria have a big role to play in this.

Free radicals: they might be free, but they can be costly

Free radicals are by-products of your cells’ energy production process; in a way, free radicals are similar to the polluting exhaust generated by an engine that is burning fuel.  Because they are at the core of the energy production process, mitochondria are responsible for 90 – 95% of the free radicals in your cells and as a result, are 10 times more exposed to free radicals than any other part of the cell.

Free radicals can damage the walls of our mitochondria, which are needed to protect the critical energy production process that takes place inside.  If the mitochondrial wall is damaged, less energy is produced.  To make matters worse, if the mitochondrial membrane is compromised, some free radicals can leak into the cell and damage the delicate equipment within it - this is called oxidative stress.

Less energy and damaged cell components can have significant consequences for the health and performance of our brain.  Indeed, oxidative stress is thought to be a significant contributor to many neurological conditions.

Scientists believe that if we can prevent mitochondrial dysfunction, by decreasing oxidative stress associated with rogue free radicals, we can support healthy brain function and may help slow down the aging process itself.

Improving mitochondrial performance is something you can influence

The good news is that mitochondria are clever: they stack themselves with a naturally-produced antioxidant called CoQ10.  This is used to line the mitochondrial wall with a defensive barrier, that neutralizes the destructive free radicals and minimizes any negative impact on energy production, as well as potential damage to the cells from free radical leakage. 

However, as we get older, the level of CoQ10 antioxidant produced inside our mitochondria declines.  With less antioxidant protection, the free radicals pose a more significant threat to our ongoing health.

But if we can sustain the level of antioxidant protection inside our mitochondria, we can limit free radical damage at the source.  This supports our cells to perform at their best, for longer - maintaining energy production at optimum levels and reducing the wear and tear on our cell components.

A balanced diet, regular exercise and getting enough sleep are all essential ingredients for our overall well-being and all of them create an environment in which our mitochondria will thrive.

However, even if we look after our mitochondria through healthy diet and exercise, they will still decline naturally as we age.  Therefore, taking a supplement that supports our mitochondrial performance is also a very good strategy to help us maintain the energy levels we need for our busy, active lives.

Getting antioxidants across the blood-brain barrier

The brain consists of four main areas, called lobes. These are the frontal, parietal, temporal and occipital lobes. Each is related to a different brain function and together with the cerebellum, brain stem and spinal cord form our central nervous system (CNS).

Neurons are the primary cells in our CNS and are made up of a cell body and a nerve fiber through which electrical pulses are sent. These pulses send signals to other neurons, or to cells like our muscles and organs. This requires a lot of energy, so neurons are packed with mitochondria and are highly dependent on them functioning properly.

Our CNS is protected from our circulatory system (heart, blood, lymph system) by a unique interface, called the blood brain barrier. This barrier restricts the passage of large or water soluble molecules and foreign invaders such as bacteria while allowing the movement of small or fat soluble molecules such as oxygen, carbon dioxide and hormones. Certain other metabolic products such as glucose get actively transported across the barrier with the aid of special proteins.

MitoQ® is a scientific breakthrough.  It is a unique CoQ10 antioxidant, which has been specifically formulated to cross the blood-brain barrier. This means it can actively target the billions of mitochondria in our brains like no other antioxidant supplement can.  MitoQ® is absorbed directly into your mitochondria, hundreds of times more effectively than regular CoQ10 supplements, delivering a payload of free radical defense, right where it is needed.

Properly functioning mitochondria provide our neurons with the energy they need to keep our bodies active, and our minds focused and sharp.

MitoQ® is a world-first, mitochondria-targeted CoQ10 antioxidant

Bibliography [Accessed 2/9/13]

Enciu, AM, Gherghiceanu M, Popescu B. Triggers and Effectors of Oxidative Stress at Blood-Brain Barrier Level Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity 2013

Gemma C, Vila J, Bachstetter A et al. Oxidative Stress and the Aging Brain: From Theory to Prevention. Brain Aging: Models, Methods, and Mechanisms www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK3869/

New research shows dysfunctional mitochondria in brain cells can lead to learning disabilities. 2013 www.news-medical.net/news/20130517/New-research-shows-dysfunctional-mitochondria-in-braincells-can-lead-to-learning-disabilities.aspx

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