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Mitochondria and Your Energy

  blog post author icon   blog post published date icon   03/11/23

Disease  Exercise  Nutrition  Stress  

Our bodies are similar to machines, with specific functions necessary to achieve certain outcomes. Every moment, our bodies are constantly working to keep us going, and like machines, they require energy to do so. This energy is rooted in our cells, specifically our mitochondria. Like gas to an engine, our bodies rely on our cellular mitochondria to stay energized.

What are Mitochondria?

Mitochondria are small organelles found within eukaryotic cells that form the basis of unicellular and multicellular organisms. Mitochondria are commonly called the "powerhouse of the cell," responsible for providing most of the energy needed to conduct cellular processes. Mitochondria are also involved in apoptosis (programmed cell death), calcium signaling, and oxidative stress control.

How Does Mitochondria Relate to Your Energy Levels?

In thinking about our energy levels, typically, the conversation is focused on our diet, rest, and exercise habits. However, the degree to which our mitochondria within our cells efficiently function is closely linked with the energy available to us in our daily lives. This is because mitochondria generate the power of all our cells, called adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

What is ATP?

ATP is a molecule that stores and releases the energy our cells require. It comprises an adenine molecule, a ribose sugar, and three phosphate groups. The removal of a phosphate group causes energy to be released, which can then be used in powering various cellular processes.

What is the Krebs Cycle?

The Krebs Cycle is the process of generating ATP alongside other essential molecules in mitochondria. Also commonly called the citric acid cycle, the Krebs Cycle is the key metabolic pathway of the mitochondrial matrix.

The cycle begins with acetyl-CoA, which combines with oxaloacetate to form citrate. Citrate progresses and undergoes a series of reactions catalyzed by specific enzymes to produce several intermediate molecules. These molecules progress along other metabolic pathways, such as the electron transport chain, to generate ATP. Finally, oxaloacetate is regenerated, and the cycle repeats. The final products of the Krebs Cycle are two molecules of ATP per glucose molecule, carbon dioxide and water.

The Krebs Cycle is a fundamental process for generating ATP and other essential mitochondrial molecules.

Mitochondrial Diseases

Mitochondrial Diseases are a group of rare genetic disorders caused by mutations in the genes that produce mitochondria properly. The mutations in these genetic disorders impact the function of the mitochondria, leading to various potentially severe consequences on different parts of the body.

Symptoms of mitochondrial diseases can include muscle weakness, fatigue, intolerance to exercise, vision and hearing problems, and developmental delays. Mitochondrial diseases are not curable; however, treatments are available to manage their symptoms and improve quality of life.

How to Promote Better Mitochondrial Health?

Promoting better mitochondrial health is essential to our overall health and maintaining optimal energy levels. There are a few ways in which we can encourage better mitochondrial health.

  1. Exercise Regularly: Regular exercise has been shown to stimulate mitochondrial production and efficiency within the body.
  2. Maintain a Healthy Diet: Diets rich in whole foods, fruits, and vegetables provide the body with nutrients and antioxidants to promote mitochondrial health.
  3. Get Enough Rest: As with most processes the body must undergo to maintain itself, producing its energy requires periods of adequate rest crucial for restoring and repairing mitochondria.
  4. Manage Stress: Chronic stress can lead to oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction. Promoting relaxation and healthy stress management habits like yoga and meditation can help encourage mitochondrial health.
  5. Avoid Toxins: Exposure to environmental toxins like pesticides, chemicals, and heavy metals can negatively impact mitochondrial function and encourage mitochondrial mutations. Avoiding toxin exposure when and where possible is crucial to mitochondrial health.
  6. Supplementation: Mitochondrial supplements, such as CoQ10 and alpha-lipoic acid may help to support mitochondrial function.

Mitochondria and Our Health

Mitochondria are crucial organelles that play critical roles in generating energy for the body (ATP) and regulating various cellular processes. The Krebs Cycle is a metabolic pathway through which ATP is produced through chemical reactions. Our energy levels are closely linked with the efficacy of our mitochondria, and promoting better mitochondrial health is essential for optimal energy levels and our overall health.

Citations:

1 https://www.britannica.com/science/mitochondrion/Role-in-disease
2 https://www.chop.edu/conditions-diseases/mitochondrial-disease
3 https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15612-mitochondrial-diseases
4 https://physoc.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1113/JP278853

headshot of Jay Todtenbier 2018
Author

Jay Todtenbier is an original founder of SupplementRelief.com in 2010 and has operated the business ever since. He is also a tennis instructor and gospel musician. Formerly he spent 25 years in business development, technology and marketing with startups and major corporations having gone through the tech boom in Silicon Valley in the 90s. He became passionate about, and began studying and practicing Wellness as a Lifestyle after experiencing chronic, personal health challenges including depression, auto-immune disorders, and being overweight that impacted his ability to live a healthy, vibrant life. Since then, he has been an advocate for healthier living encouraging others to live better through making small, gradual changes to lifestyle behaviors relating to whole-foods nutrition, stress management, reasonable exercise, proper sleep, and the use of targeted, high-quality supplements.

Learn more about Jay Todtenbier.

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