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The Importance of Mitochondrial Function for Healthy Cells

The mitochondria is often referred to as the “powerhouse of the cell” because it produces energy in a form that cells can use. Mitochondrial dysfunction has been linked to many diseases including cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. In this article, we will discuss why mitochondrial function is so important for healthy cells and what you can do to keep your mitochondria functioning properly!

The Importance of Mitochondrial Function for Healthy Cells

If you’ve read any health articles or watched documentaries about aging, then chances are you have heard something about mitochondria and how they affect your overall quality of life. But what exactly is a mitochondria? And why should we care so much about this tiny little organelle in our cells? Let’s take a look at some more details on mitochondrial function to see just how important it is for healthy cells.

The mitochondria is the powerhouse of your cells. It converts sugar and oxygen into energy that keeps you running. A lack in healthy cells can inhibit mitochondrial function, which has been linked to a number of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s Disease! Fortunately for us all there are ways we can naturally improve our cell health with things like: drinking plenty water; eating more probiotics-rich foods (yogurt); taking quality supplements containing DHA EPA Omega 3 fatty acids or CoQ10 supplement ;reducing stress through meditation breathing exercises etc.; exercising regularly; getting enough sleep – at least 7 hours per night; using positive affirmations every day – “I am strong” will help build up your immune system; and drinking lots of water.

What are mitochondria?

Mitochondria are organelles found in cells that produce energy for the cell and have their own DNA.

Mitochondria are the powerhouse of a cell, generating energy for everything from simple tissue maintenance to complex brain functions.

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Like any other organ in your body, mitochondria require nutrients and oxygen to function properly. When not enough fuel is available or when there’s not enough room inside the mitochondrial membrane for enzymes that facilitate chemical reactions necessary for conversion of food into usable energy, damage can occur.

What causes mitochondrial dysfunction?

Mitochondrial dysfunction can lead to many health problems that range from neurological conditions including cancer, diabetes, or Alzheimer’s disease. This is why it’s important to understand how mitochondria work and what you can do if you suspect mitochondrial dysfunction is affecting your body.

How do you know if your body is experiencing mitochondrial dysfunction?

It’s important to be aware of any symptoms you may be experiencing so that a doctor can determine whether or not there has been an issue with mitochondrial function.

Some common signs include fatigue accompanied by brain fog or memory loss as well as muscle weakness and increased heart rate during physical activity.

Mitochondrial Disease can be difficult to diagnose because of the wide variety of symptoms. The following is a list that may indicate mitochondrial dysfunction:

Oxidative stress plays a key role in mitochondrial function. It can be caused by a number of factors, including high-intensity exercise and radiation exposure.

There are many different reasons why this process can go wrong, but it’s important to note that in most cases there will not be an outward sign and your doctor would need to conduct tests in order for them to determine if you have a mitochondrial disease.

How does a healthy cell maintain its mitochondria?

A healthy cell maintains its mitochondria by supplying them with both adequate nutrients and appropriate levels of oxygen. Mitochondrial dysfunction can happen if either one isn’t present at an optimal level over time. This results in cellular malfunction which causes problems ranging from neurological conditions including cancer, diabetes

Mitochondrial Membrane

Mitochondrial membrane potential is a balance of positively and negatively charged ions that exist on either side of the mitochondria’s inner and outer membranes. Mitophagy:

A process in which damaged or unnecessary parts of cells are broken down by specialized compartments (called lysosomes) inside an animal cell using enzymes, including hydrolytic ones such as proteases, lipases, phosphatases etc. The products made can be reused to form new items like proteins for example.

Oxidative Stress: A condition caused when molecules called free radicals react with important cellular components like fatty acids, amino acids, DNA or RNA resulting in damage to these cellular structures that alters their function.

Antioxidants have been shown to increase the resistance of cells to oxidative stress.

Free Radicals: Molecules that have an unpaired electron in their outer orbit giving them a very reactive nature and the ability to disrupt other molecules by stealing electrons. They can be produced by excessive exposure to sunlight, tobacco smoke among many others or they may arise from normal metabolism as part of the body’s immune response against infection.

Mitochondrial dysfunction is associated with all three types of free radicals (superoxide radical, nitric oxide radical and hydrogen peroxide).

Metabolism happens when energy released during substrate oxidation feeds into ATP synthesis through the chemiosmotic process in mitochondria.

Mitochondrial DNA

is vulnerable to oxidative damage because it lacks protective histones and is located near the inner membrane where reactive oxygen species are generated.

The mitochondrial genome is also susceptible to mutations, as they occur more frequently than nuclear DNA mutations due to its shorter length of approximately 16 kbp. It encodes for 13 essential proteins (subunits) of mitochondria that have vital metabolic functions in cellular respiration which leads to a decreased production or excessive generation of ROS from electron leakage during oxidation.

What happens when there is damage or dysfunction to the mitochondria?

Mitochondrial dysfunction can happen if either one isn’t present at an optimal level over time. This results in cellular malfunction which causes problems ranging from neurological conditions including cancer, diabetes to cardiovascular complications and chronic fatigue syndrome.

A healthy cell maintains its mitochondria by supplying them with oxygen and nutrients, such as fatty acids or amino acids. Mitochondrial function is important because it helps produce energy for the cells of our body, even when we’re resting or sleeping.

A mitochondrial issue can cause a number of health concerns like:

• decreased quality of life due to physical limitations

• lowered ability to fight infections

• increased risk for developing certain cancers (e.g., liver cancer)

What are some symptoms of mitochondrial dysfunction?

– Fatigue

– Feeling cold often and/or feeling excessively hot or thirsty for no apparent reason. This is also called “brain fog” because the fatigue causes difficulty concentrating, memory problems, forgetfulness, poor word recall, loss of appetite and weight loss.

– Muscle weakness that can be intermittent or constant – especially in the arms and legs. There may be muscle cramping as well with this symptom. This abnormality may not show up on an MRI unless there’s been trauma to the muscles involved such a car accident or fall from a height which would cause injury to these tissues associated with skeletal muscle dysfunction.”

A mitochondrial issue can cause different signs depending on what tissue it affects: liver cancer (fatigue), diabetes, or even heart disease.

– Liver Cancer: “Liver cancer is a malignant tumor that arises in the cells of the liver and may spread outside its organ to other parts of the body.”

“Fatigue can be caused by many different conditions, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, depression or hypothyroidism. However, it’s important for people who experience an unexplained increase in fatigue to consult their doctor since this symptom could indicate something more serious like liver cancer.”

– Diabetes: “In diabetes mellitus type II there is also insulin resistance which leads to high blood sugar levels over time. This results from impaired function of beta cells responsible for producing insulin that regulate glucose homeostasis (the balance between glucose and energy use).”

Your body has billions of cells. When you eat food, these fuels enter as fat, proteins, or carbohydrates. The mitochondria then convert them all into ATP so your muscles can work properly and efficiently without wasting any stored nutrients like they would if left on their own inside individual cells. Damaged cells have less fuel and the output of ATP will be less.

If we don’t have enough ATP our cells will have insufficient cellular energy (ICE) which will make you feel tired because of the shortness in fuel which leads to mitochondrial dysfunction.

What causes cell death?

Cell death is a natural process in which the body breaks down old or damaged cells. There are two main ways that cells can die: apoptosis (normal cell suicide) and necrosis (cell injury). Necrosis occurs when vital components of the cell’s structure get destroyed, such as during physical trauma like an accident where cells may be ripped apart. Apoptosis occurs when a cell’s own death mechanism is triggered by a natural process.

Damaged cells have less fuel and the output of ATP will be less. If we don’t have enough ATP our cells will have insufficient cellular energy (ICE) which will make you feel tired because of a lack of energy.

Cells will be more vulnerable to oxidative stress, which can eventually lead to mitochondrial dysfunction and cell death. Mitochondria are the energy source of the cells and when they get damaged or don’t produce enough ATP it leads to a cascade effect of cellular damage called apoptosis (normal cell suicide).

Healthy cellular function occurs with efficient production of ATP and this requires healthy mitochondria.

If a cell is damaged, we can try to repair it or kill off the cell in order to avoid any negative effects that could occur if the cells were not eliminated. When cells die because they are too old, have been infected by a virus or bacteria, trophic or nutritional insults, or have excessive DNA damage, the cells are removed by phagocytosis (cellular eating) and other forms of cell death.

The mitochondria provide our body with ATP which is used as fuel for all cellular activities such as generating heat or making proteins to repair damaged cells. Mitochondrial dysfunction can lead to an array of health issues such as diabetes or cancer. For example, when a cell is damaged and cannot repair itself- the mitochondria provide it with ATP so that cellular activities can continue to generate heat or make proteins for repairing cells.

When we eat healthy foods, our mitochondria are well supplied with nutrients to produce a lot of energy in an efficient way.

How does your mitochondria affect the nervous system?

The Importance of Mitochondrial Function for Healthy Cells: The mitochondria provide our body with ATP which is used as fuel for all cellular activities such as generating heat or making proteins to repair damaged cells. Mitochondrial dysfunction can lead to an array of health issues such as diabetes or cancer. For example, when a cell is damaged and body temperature rises, the nervous system may send a signal to change blood flow through capillaries in order to go towards the heat. This will allow more oxygen and nutrients to reach that area as well as less carbon dioxide leaving it.

The mitochondrial membrane has transport proteins that are regulated by enzymes called PGC-α. These proteins serve as channels for both the import and export of small molecules such as ATP, NADH+H+, pyruvate, ketones, acetyl-CoA etc. The mitochondrial inner membrane is also responsible for phospholipid synthesis which affects cell growth.

What does mitochondrial dysfunction have to do with diabetes?

Mitochondrial dysfunction is a major issue for many people. Mitochondria are responsible for energy production in the body and also play an important role in healthy cells.

Diabetes is one of many diseases caused by mitochondrial dysfunction which affects pancreatic cancer is also a result of mitochondrial dysfunction.

Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are considered the main culprit for mitochondrial damage and it is thought that ROS play an important role in diabetes as well.

The mitochondria’s ability to generate ATP has been shown to be decreased which can lead to insulin resistance or type II diabetes, if left untreated.

How to reduce oxidative stress to improve your mitochondrial function:

There are many ways to reduce oxidative stress and improve mitochondrial function.

First, it is important to eat a balanced diet which includes antioxidant rich foods such as blueberries, Brussels sprouts, broccoli or spinach.

Also stay away from processed sugar and refined carbohydrates; these will increase your insulin levels and lead you down the path to uncontrolled insulin levels.

Exercise, your mitochondria need it

Exercise has also been shown to improve mitochondrial function.

However, the type and frequency of exercise will vary depending on your current health status. If you are just starting an exercise routine it is important to start slow with simple exercises like walking or stretching in order for joints and muscles to adjust. Once basic daily activities become easier then one can do more strenuous exercise as your cells improve function.

Exercise is one of the most effective things you can do to protect and improve mitochondrial function. Mitochondria are little power plants that produce energy for cells in both rest or exercise states. They also regulate cell aging and death by providing an efficient source of cellular respiration with minimal production of damaging reactive oxygen species (ROS). Regular aerobic exercise leads to a reduction in oxidative stress which contributes not only to increased longevity but improved quality-of-life as we age because ROS disrupts protein synthesis, lipid transport within membranes, suppress antioxidant defenses against free radicals induced DNA damage plus more! Exercise has been shown reduce inflammation on multiple levels.

Electron transport chain

The electron transport chain can be seen in your mitochondria.

One second, the electrons are just sitting around and then they’re kicked off a carrier protein called NADH to pass on their energy so that it will power you up!

In order for this process to happen successfully, there needs to be oxygen because it is needed for an adenine nucleotide molecule that’s found in one of the proteins from Complex I – something like F1C3 ATP synthase- or else we’ll have no way of making any new molecules outta old ones!

The electron transport chain in your mitochondria is used to produce ATP as a result of both exercise and the process by which food is turned into energy.

The mitochondrial electron transport chain produces power for the body through two processes, one being that it creates electricity from fuels like fat or glucose during metabolism when you are not exercising. The other way this happens when more oxygen-rich blood flows to parts of muscles in response to increased muscle activity due, say, an athlete’s training regimen.

Fatigue and Mitochondrial Health

This increased blood flow stimulates the mitochondria in those muscles to produce more ATP. Reducing mitochondrial fatigue could be a way of improving athletic performance as well as treating diseases that are caused by poor mitochondrial function, like diabetes and heart disease.

Mitochondrial dysfunction is also related with obesity and insulin resistance which usually leads to type II diabetes mellitus or “adult onset” diabetes. Type I diabetics suffer from pancreas-related problems while people who have developed adult onset are overweight at risk for cardiovascular events such as stroke or coronary artery disease because their cells cannot use glucose (sugar) properly due to the lack of proper oxidative phosphorylation – AKA electron transport chain activity!

Fatigue is a common symptom of diabetes, as well as the lack of healthy cells.

To sustain a normal and functioning metabolism, mitochondria need enough energy to carry out their tasks – which can be achieved by supplying them with adequate amounts of protein (amino acids) in order for them to function properly!

Furthermore, increasing the amount mitochondrial proteins is not just important because it helps produce more ATP but also because it reduces oxidative stress on these organelles or “powerhouse” inside each cell that produces energy from food intake. Mitochondrial dysfunction has been linked with cellular senescence and its associated inflammation processes leading up to cancer initiation. Normalizing mitochondrial activity may even lead to treatments for things like Parkinson’s disease !!!

This means there are many different treatments that can be used to prevent mitochondrial dysfunction and promote healthy aging !!!

Some of these treatments are:

Protein supplementation for the mitochondria! As mentioned before, just like any other organelle in our cells, they require certain proteins (amino acids) from food intake. If you’re not getting enough protein – or if your body is breaking down too much protein due to illness or stress – then this could cause problems with mitochondrial function. This would make it a lot more difficult for them to carry out their tasks which is achieved by supplying them with adequate amounts of amino acid in order to function properly!! Furthermore, increasing the amount mitochondrial protein content isn’t only important because it helps produce more ATP but also because it reduces oxidative stress also.

Reduction of oxidative stress is important because it can lead to a buildup in cells which creates aerobic conditions for the production of free radicals. The more these types of compounds accumulate, the higher your risk will be for different diseases such as cancer and Parkinson’s disease!

Lastly, they’re also essential when it comes to detoxifying harmful substances out of our body; removing them from inside our cells so that we’re not exposed to high levels over time through what we eat or drink. This helps us maintain healthy mitochondria function in order to avoid problems with degradation and increasing inflammation – all contributing factors towards an unhealthy lifestyle!

Therefore, mitochondrial dysfunction is something you should take seriously if you want optimal cell functioning throughout your life.”


Your metabolic health is important when it comes to your mitochondria. A diet that is high in processed food, sugar and fat will lead to a decrease in the number of healthy mitochondria you have.

In addition, your mitochondrial health can be compromised if you have chronic stress or lack sleep since this leads to an increase in blood glucose levels which then damages cells!

Mitochondrial dysfunction also plays a role when it comes to your metabolism as well because they’re responsible for producing energy (ATP) from proteins and fats so cells throughout our body are able to function properly. If these two things are not functioning optimally, we’ll start noticing changes such as fatigue during exercise or weight gain as more calories get stored instead of being used.

Supplements to help treat mitochondrial dysfunction:

CoQ10 – Ubiquinol is a coenzyme found in every cell that helps produce ATP. The body can make CoQ-ubiquinone, but it’s not efficient and decreases with age. So supplementation of 100mg per day for 15 months has shown to help improve mitochondrial function

NADH – Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) converts food into energy as well as aids the production of new mitochondria cells. One study showed administration over two weeks led to improvements on muscle strength and power during exercise without side effects. NAD supplements have been tested in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, or Alzheimer’s disease. NADH levels are depleted during periods of chronic inflammation due to increased generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS).”

Nicotinamide Mononucleotide (NMN) – NMN is the other NAD molecule. It can be converted to NAD+ and provides a lot of benefits in mitochondria cells including the reduction of oxidative stress, suppression of inflammation, and regulation against cellular aging.

Pyrroloquinoline Quinono (PQQ) – Pyrroloquinoline quinone is found naturally but it’s ability to stimulate mitochondria has been studied for decades. One study showed administration over two weeks led to improvements on muscle strength and power during exercise without side effects which indicates that it could potentially have therapeutic potential in people who are unable to exercise due to other conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, or Alzheimer’s disease where mitochondrial dysfunction may exist.”

Polyphenols (plant based phytochemicals with bioactive properties) – Polyphenols are plant compounds that have been shown to protect mitochondria by reducing oxidative stress in the cells. In one study, mice given polyphenol-rich diets had improvements in mitochondrial function and reduced levels of inflammatory cytokines. Curcumin is a very powerful polyphenol that can reduce your bodies inflammation.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) – PUFA’s or omega-essential fats are important for healthy cell membranes and help regulate inflammation responses from white blood cells. One study found that dietary supplementation with Omega-three essential fat led to reduction of chronic inflammation markers as well as improved mitochondrial function.”

L-ergothioneine is an amino acid that can be found in mushrooms and has been shown to protect against mitochondrial damage from free radicals.

Coenzyme Q – Coenzyme Q, also known as ubiquinone or ubidecarenone, speeds up the movement of electrons through mitochondria.”

Antioxidants (such as Vitamin C) can help combat the oxidative damage that comes from free radicals and promotes a healthy mitochondria.

Glutathione – this supplement plays a powerful role in detoxifying the body.

5 important Blood tests to help get a baseline of one’s mitochondrial function:

hsCRP (high-sensitivity C-Reactive Protein) ) – “hsCRP is a marker of systemic inflammation often associated with chronic diseases such as atherosclerosis, diabetes mellitus and heart disease. Anything over a 1 MG/L is considered moderate risk and anything over 3 MG/L is high risk.

HbA1c blood test: “HbA is a type of hemoglobin, the molecule in red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs to other parts of your body. HbA tests can be used to give an idea of blood glucose levels on an average of the last 3 months when taken. Anything over a 5.7 is moderate risk and anything over a 6.4 is high risk. Berberine is often referred to as nature’s Metformin drug because of it’s ability to lower sugar levels.

oxLDL (osidized low-density lipoprotein): “oxidized LDL is a type of lipoprotein that contains oxidized cholesterol and contributes to atherosclerosis. The more oxidation you have the more damaged your mitochondria will be. Anything over a 60 U/L is considered moderate risk and anything over a 70 U/L is considered high risk.

LDH (Lactate Dehydrogenase) and AST (Aspartate Aminotransferase)– They can indicate how well the muscle tissue is functioning. Too high levels suggest that there may be some level of protein breakdown in your muscles.”

CMPK (Cyclic Adenosine Monophosphate Kinase), also known for ATP production– Can help determine if an individual’s mitochondria are producing enough energy to keep them healthy.

Vitamin D

Iron and ferritin levels

Thyroid panel

Adrenal function


The Importance of Mitochondrial Health:

Mitochondrial function is important because it determines whether or not we maintain a state of health or sickness. It may be wise for those with known cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or other chronic illness (especially autoimmune diseases) to have periodic assessments of their mitochondrial health.

National institutes of health suggest mitochondrial health is a key factor in aging and chronic illness.

The United Mitochondrial disease foundation reports that mitochondrial dysfunction may be the underlying disorder for various human diseases and aging.

It is also well-documented that certain toxins, environmental pollutants or stressors can compromise mitochondrial function.

Mitochondrial health should not go ignored because it will make a difference in whether you maintain your optimum state of health or fall into sickness with chronic illness.

Keto diet and mitochondrial health:

The keto diet is an extremely high-fat, low carbohydrate and moderate protein as well as a very low glycemic index. This has been shown to have huge impacts on cells in many different ways including mitochondrial health!

The Keto Diet is not just for weight loss; it’s also great for your mitochondria (your cellular power plants). Mitochondrial dysfunction can cause problems such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and obesity so optimizing the function of these organelles may be able to combat some serious diseases. For this reason alone you should consider adding more healthy fats into your diet by following a Ketogenic diet or low carb lifestyle.

In conclusion:

Mitochondrial dysfunction is not just an elder patient issue but affects all age groups. In order to combat any mitochondrial issues like ROS production or decreased ATP synthesis, it’s important that we use supplements listed above which help converts food into energy as well as aids the production of new mitochondria cells for optimal health.

The Importance of Mitochondrial Function for Healthy Cells

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