Over the past year, there has been an increasing amount of interest in mitochondria. But even though the topic has gotten more attention, very few people have a true understanding of what mitochondria are, how mitochondria affect our overall health, and what we need to do to optimize our mitochondria. This article will discuss those issues.
What are Mitochondria?
Mitochondria are components of every cell in your body. They are the parts of a cell that turn macronutrients into energy. They take the sugars, proteins, and fats that we have eaten and convert them into a usable chemical energy that the body needs to function.
Mitochondria produce chemicals that turn into cell energy. In order to create this energy, the mitochondria need oxygen. If mitochondria don’t have the needed oxygen, they literally cannot create the energy your body needs to function.
How do Mitochondria Affect Your Health?
The energy created by mitochondria is called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. The quality of our health, the quality of our existence, is dependent on the quality of the ATP being produced by our mitochondria. If your mitochondria are damaged, you will have low energy, memory loss, excessive pain, faster aging, and excessive fatigue. Every aspect of your existence is negatively affected if your mitochondria are not working properly.
The quality of your health is determined by the quality of your mitochondria. If your mitochondria are not functioning properly, you cannot be healthy. The evidence is growing that any dysfunction in your mitochondria is the basis of most disease and illness. Pretty significant statement!
What Hurts Your Mitochondria?
So, what damages your mitochondria? What reduces their ability to create ATP? Your mitochondria can be damaged in a variety of ways. Inadequate nutrients can damage their ability to create energy for your cells.
Environmental toxins can also have a severe negative effect on your mitochondria. So, whether you are being exposed to toxic mold, to chemicals in your food, or to heavy metals in your environment, you are potentially damaging the ability of your mitochondria to function properly.
What Helps Mitochondria?
Mitochondria need good food and high-quality supplements to insure your body is nourished properly. Your mitochondria need certain nutrients to work well. Some of the most important requirements are as follows:
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids. These must come from your diet or from supplements. Fatty fish, such as salmon, supply an adequate source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids. This is critical since the body can not create these on its own.
- L-Carnitine is an excellent supplement that helps direct those Omega-3 Fatty Acids to the mitochondria.
- CoQ10 is critical for ATP production. People on statin drugs have an impaired system for creating CoQ10 and will have a shortage of CoQ10. Supplements are absolutely critical for anyone on a statin drug.
- In order to function properly, mitochondria need an adequate source of all the B vitamins.
In addition to adequate nutrition, mitochondria are also impacted favorably with exercise. Getting that extra oxygen into our cells supports the mitochondria in their ability to product ATP. It is greatly influenced by the amount of oxygen that is available to the cells.
High-intensity or resistance exercises are particularly good for your mitochondria. Adding in interval training or weight lifting can have a positive effect on mitochondrial health.
Although the word mitochondria may not have been in your vocabulary until now, the fact is that your own mitochondrial health is key to your overall health. If you have specific questions about your mitochondrial health, please have a discussion with your physician. Together you should develop a plan for maximizing your ATP production by looking at nutrients, exercise, your environment and all the aspects involved in your mitochondrial health.