Mitochondria - the power of your cells
With every second, every breath, every movement and every thought you consume energy. Every day, your brain alone consumes an average of 500 kilocalories. Almost every biochemical process in your body requires energy to run. Where does your body get this energy?
The energy has to be in a certain form so that you can do something with it. This form is called ATP, or adenosine triphosphate. The universal energy carrier is provided to 90% by the mitochondria. Mitochondria are therefore not called the power plants of the cells for no reason.
One of the first topics at our foundation at that time were mitochondria and mitochondrial therapy. We have always paid special attention to this. Today, we pass on the knowledge we have accumulated over the years to therapists and doctors in our network and, in this article, to you as well.
In this article you will learn about the importance of mitochondria in the human organism and how you can use this knowledge.
Knowledge for your ears!
No time to read? Here you can listen to Claire's article.
Table of Contents
• What are mitochondria simply explained?
• Where are mitochondria located and how are they formed?
• What are the functions of mitochondria?
• What substances do your mitochondria need?
• Mitochondrial diseases
• What is mitochondriopathy?
• Mitochondrial therapy - what is it?
• Can mitochondriopathy be treated?
• How can you strengthen your mitochondria naturally?
• Our Mitochondria Mission
What are mitochondria simply explained?
Mitochondria are small cell organelles that are found in (almost) every cell. Without mitochondria, we could only provide very limited energy in the form of ATP from the food we consume. This energy carrier is produced, for example, in the metabolism of amino acids, fats and carbohydrates.
With the help of mitochondria, 32 ATP can be produced from one sugar molecule - without them, only 2 ATP.
Likewise, fatty acids are metabolized entirely with the help of mitochondria. A single fatty acid can provide for the production of 106 ATP.
Structurally, the small organelles are also special. They are enclosed by two membranes and possess their own DNA (mtDNA). Unlike the rest of the cell components, mitochondria have the ability to divide and grow independently of the rest of the cell. In cells with high energy demands, there are even up to 100,000 mitochondria that constantly provide energy. It is safe to say that mitochondria are essential for life. A malfunction or lack of mitochondria would deeply affect everyday life.
Where are mitochondria located and how are they formed?
Mitochondria are found in every single human cell - except in red blood cells, if you count them as cells. They have particularly high concentrations in oocytes, nerve cells, muscle cells and sensory cells. In cardiac muscle cells, mitochondria account for 36% by volume. Other animals and even plants also have mitochondria, so they developed very early in evolution.
A certain hype arose around mitochondria in science. The reason was the structural peculiarity and ability of independent reproduction. This ability probably stems from the fact that mitochondria were formerly their own bacteria that entered into a symbiosis, i.e. cooperation, with a precursor of our cells. Fortunately, one can only say today! Mitochondria are probably one of the reasons why complex organisms consisting of several cells could form at all.
What are the functions of mitochondria?
Of course, mitochondria are a crucial factor in energy metabolism. Did you know that mitochondria can do much more?
Here are a few of the diverse features:
When cells are too badly damaged or infected, a process called apoptosis begins. With this controlled cell death, the cell protects surrounding cells and thus the organism. The rule is: one for all. If the affected cell suffers from increased oxidative stress and/or DNA damage, for example, cell death is initiated from within. This happens when a certain substance, cytochrome C, passes from the mitochondrion into the cytoplasm and binds with proteins. Enzymes are activated that degrade the cell. Thus, the mitochondrion is partly responsible for triggering cell death.
Another mitochondrial function is the synthesis of substances, not only the degradation. The well-known steroid hormones cortisol, estrogen and testosterone are synthesized in the mitochondrion - from the basic molecule cholesterol. For this purpose, a special type of mitochondrion is particularly needed - the saccule and tubule type mitochondria.
Mitochondria are also a calcium store of the cells and thus relevant for signal transmissions, especially of the muscles.
Mitochondria are also involved in urea synthesis for the excretion of nitrogen, in the endogenous formation of glucose, and in the production of heat in brown adipose tissue.
What substances do your mitochondria need?
It still holds that mitochondria only need an energy-rich molecule such as glucose or fatty acids and oxygen to produce energy. However, this assumption has long been disproved. For the production of ATP, the universal energy carrier, we need a little more. These substances are also called mitotropic substances, which means: substances that promote energy production in mitochondria and mitochondrial health.
These substances include:
• Oxidizing agents and reducing agents: When we metabolize glucose, we ultimately produce six CO2 and water. In order for the glucose molecule to be oxidized, we need substances that are reduced (then we have a redox reaction). Later, these substances can then in turn counteract with increased oxidation. The agents used are NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) and FAD (flavin adenine dinucleotide). This sounds complicated at first. If you look closer, you can see that the NAD+ contains niacin (vitamin B3) and FAD has riboflavin (vitamin B2) as a component.
• Coenzyme A: This substance is necessary both in the oxidation of fatty acids and in the metabolism of glucose. One could consider this substance as an activating carrier of the molecule to be degraded. Without coenzyme A, nothing works. The essential component of the coenzyme, which cannot be produced by the body itself, is pantothenic acid (vitamin B5).
• thiamine (vitamin B1): This vitamin is needed to rebuild the initial breakdown products of glucose for further breakdown. Without this conversion, which takes place together with NAD+, FAD and coenzyme A, the degradation would get stuck after the production of two ATP.
• Vitamin B6: The vitamin is a component of enzymes that convert amino acids to intermediates in the breakdown of fatty acids and carbohydrates and vice versa. Like the other vitamins, it is essential.
• Iron: Iron is located in the center of cytochrome C and some enzyme complexes. This molecule is important for the transfer of electrons and thus for the production of ATP in the respiratory chain. This is a process at the inner mitochondrial membrane.
• Coenzyme Q10: Coenzyme Q10 is also found in the inner membrane of the mitochondria and serves to transfer electrons in the respiratory chain.
This molecule can be produced itself, but requires some energy.
• To protect mitochondria from oxidative stress also: selenium, zinc, manganese, vitamins C and E.
There are many mitochondrial disorders. It is becoming increasingly apparent that even supposedly healthy people can have a mitochondrial disorder. Factors that can cause such functional impairments include stress, lack of sleep, an unbalanced diet and exposure to pollutants. If the disorder takes on a visible dimension, it is referred to as mitochondriopathy.
What is mitochondriopathy?
Mitochondriopathy is a disease of the mitochondria that can be either primary or secondary. Primary means that the defect is genetic. This is usually detected relatively early. Secondary mitochondriopathy, on the other hand, is an acquired disease. It occurs later in life and is usually the result of many years of mitochondrial dysfunction. Typical mitochondriopathy symptoms include lack of energy, poor sleep, burnout, decreased exercise tolerance, weight gain, and susceptibility to infections and other chronic diseases. At least one in 5,000 people is affected, although some under-reporting must be assumed due to lack of diagnosis. Thus mitochondriopathy is not at all rare. In a mitochondrial disease such as mitochondriopathy, the total number of mitochondria per cell is reduced as well as their size. The respiratory chain (the process by which much of the energy is produced) also runs slower and less. This is also where the fatigue and drop in performance of those affected comes from.
Mitochondrial therapy - what is it?
Logically, the focus here is on mitochondria. The goal of this mitochondrial therapy is to strengthen mitochondria so that the energy level can increase and the number of mitochondria as well. The basis of such a therapy is ideally a detailed measurement of the current condition based on laboratory values. For example, the following markers are worth mentioning: M2-PK in serum, oxLDL, LDH isoenzymes, free mitochondrial DNA and glutathione status. Are you looking for a therapist or doctor who performs mitochondrial diagnostics? Use our therapist finder to find a therapist near you.
How to treat mitochondriopathy?
This is where opinions differ. The current opinion of classical medicine: mitochondriopathy, as a chronic disease, cannot be cured causally, but the symptoms can be treated. It is definitely worth a try, at least everyone who suffers from this disease knows that. Mitochondrial medicine can be a way to treat mitochondriopathy and even largely on a natural basis.
How can you strengthen your mitochondria naturally?
Above you learned which micronutrients are needed in mitochondria. These are an important component of mitochondrial support. In addition, secondary plant compounds with their diverse properties round out the plan. Depending on your current health and habits, there are a few other things you may want to consider.
Exercise: Walking every day can already be a start to strengthen the body. Furthermore, regular sport with different loads is great. For example, you can combine HIIT and endurance training with classic strength training or your body's own weight exercises. The fresh air of a walk is additionally refreshing.
Sleep: During sleep, the body regenerates and thus every single cell. Permanent sleep deprivation or poor sleep quality can impair mental performance and promote cell stress.
Rest: Stress is a factor that can greatly promote mitochondrial dysfunction. For example, in burn-out, stress is the main factor that causes mitochondrial disorder.
Our tip: Take 10 minutes for yourself every day, maybe before bed, where you close your eyes and breathe consciously or even do some stretching exercises.
Healthy diet: It has been shown that especially people who eat unbalanced, usually accompanied by lack of time, are more often affected by mitochondrial impairments. A healthy diet with plenty of vegetables and fruits of different colors is the right thing to do. Did you know that the color of the vegetables indicates which secondary plant compounds are contained? Therefore, eat as many colors as possible for a great variety.
Our Mitochondria Mission
Our focus on mitochondria comes from our two founders, who simultaneously run a practice in Munich with a focus on burn-out diagnostics. In burn-out, the mitochondria, among other things, are affected, resulting in burn-out, listlessness and extreme fatigue. Burn-out is a classic stress disease, in which the affected person overworks himself until - literally - it's over.
Dr. Alexander Hierl and Christian Burghardt observed this happening and tried to help therapeutically. They realized that products like those they needed in therapy simply did not yet exist in the form they were looking for.
This is how the idea behind MITOcare was born, a company focused on high-quality mitochondria-oriented nutritional supplements. With the help of current studies, laboratory values from practice and the right idea, MITOcare GmbH & Co KG was born.
Today, we are continuing to elucidate the importance of mitochondria for the organism and the role of mitochondria in chronic disease. Our mission: Everyone should know what mitochondria are, what their functions are and how to support them.
This is how the idea behind MITOcare was born, a company focused on high-quality mitochondria-oriented nutritional supplements.
With the help of current studies, laboratory values from practice and the right idea, MITOcare GmbH & Co KG was born. Today, we are continuing to elucidate the importance of mitochondria for the organism and the role of mitochondria in chronic disease.
Our mission: Everyone should know what mitochondria are, what their functions are and how to support them.
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