What are Mitochondria?

Mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell and are the epicenter for energy production, producing molecules of  Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to drive all cellular functions. Therefore they are considered our primary energy source.

There are approximately 250 mitochondria per cell or 250 quadrillion in total! That seemingly incomprehensible number makes up approximately 20% of our body weight! A 170 lb. man will produce on the average up to 170 lbs. (or his own body weight) of ATP on a daily basis to fuel his mitochondria!

Our mitochondria start to lose their efficiency with age (starting around age 26) and are part of the normal aging process. Unfortunately, when they become damaged by toxins, stress, or infections over time, they become slow and inefficient and damaged. This may result in the ability to repair themselves leading to a lack of energy production for cellular repair. This may result in a lack of cellular efficiency, a build-up of toxins, lack of oxygenation, etc, and may eventually lead to organ dysfunction. Organ dysfunction such as thyroid and adrenal dysfunction are commonly affected as they try to accommodate for lack of repair on the cellular level. 

Mitochondrial dysfunction has been shown to the root cause of almost every chronic disease:

Mitochondrial Damage

50% of the people over the age of 40 are experiencing Early Onset Mitochondrial Dysfunction (EOMD).  EOMD is a state of fatigue and poor performance that the majority of people over the age of 40 who have EOMD just contribute to “getting older”.

Some of the stressors that may cause mitochondrial damage are:

  • Everyday stress, especially chronic stress
  • Diet
  • Aging
  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • Lifestyle factors-smoking, alcohol abuse etc.
  • Genetic  SNPs-Single nucleotide polymorphisms
  • Toxins-Glyphosate, Aluminum
  • Chronic infections-eg Lyme and Co-infections
  • Biotoxin exposure--eg Mold Toxins
  • Electromagnetic stress: Cell Phones, Routers/WIFI, Cell towers, Dirty Electricity
  • Emotional issues--Anxiety, Depression,  PTSD, etc
  • Hypercoagulability
  • and many more

Symptoms of mitochondrial dysfunction may include:

  • Brain fog
  • Lack of focus
  • Headaches
  • Joint pain
  • Body pain
  • Hormonal issues
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Anxiety/depression
  • Blood sugar imbalances eg Diabetes
  • Elevations in heart rate and blood pressure
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Chronic fatigue

How to support the mitochondria:

In general, one must address the various stressors in our life that can be affecting our mitochondrial health. This can be achieved with the following interventions:

  • Employing various stress management techniques
  • Removing stressors if possible--eg job, relationship, etc
  • Addressing modifiable risk factors such as reducing alcohol intake and.or quitting smoking. 
  • Address any underlying toxicity such as Heavy Metals. Engage in a comprehensive detox program-such as coffee enemas, sauna therapy, lymphatic drainage etc.  and support detox pathways. 
  • Treating ending underlying infections, such as Lyme and Co-infections
  • Avoiding exposure to mold and other biotoxins
  • Supporting any nutrient deficiencies
  • Avoid problem foods and food allergens
  • Address any hormonal deficiencies
  • Address any chronic pain/structural issues
  • Transition from any unnecessary pharmaceutical medicines onto more natural therapies.

How to assess for mitochondrial health

In general, one can determine if mitochondria are affected if there are some of the symptoms that have been mentioned above, especially fatigue. Unfortunately, there are no standard lab tests that can directly assess mitochondrial function. However, one can infer that mitochondrial damage is present if standard labs reveal insulin resistance and organ damage, and elevated inflammatory markers.

Functional medicine however offers us some indirect measurements of various nutrients needed for mitochondrial function.  In addition, and Organics Acids Test (OAT) can be helpful. This test evaluates the metabolites from digestion, assimilation, metabolism, and the production of ATP. For more information see https://www.integrativepro.com/Resources/Integrative-Blog/2016/Assessing-Mitochondrial-Function-Organic-Acid-Test. The most comprehensive evaluation of mitochondria is the ion panel by Genova Diagnostics. For more information seehttps://www.gdx.net/uk/product/ion-profile-nutritional-test-blood There is also a saliva test for mitochondrial dysfunction called MitoSwab. For more information see https://religendx.com/faq-mitoswab/

Perhaps the cheapest and most advanced way to assess is heart rate variability. For a basic understanding of this method, see Heart Rate Variability Testing (HRV). Unfortunately, basic HRV testing is not able to fully assess mitochondrial function. To achieve this, we take advantage of an advanced HRV system that can measure things such as the ability to adapt to stress, hormonal, cardiovascular, and immune function, as well as an indirect measure of the total power of the mitochondria. 

In this way, we can very quickly assess the overall system with regards to the ability to adapt to stress and overall mitochondrial function.  It can also be determined if the system is the predominant sympathetic or parasympathetic mode. Based on this data, mitochondrial supports are tailored to meet individual needs. The goal is to get into 'the green zone' overtime. This is the zone of the body has the ability to adequately respond and adapt to stress. 

This is the only system that is able to quantitatively assess the success of a supplementation program. 

Nutritional support for the mitochondria:

There are several key nutrients that have been shown to be supportive of mitochondrial function. Some of those include coenzyme Q 10, l-carnitine, and l-carnosine. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an essential electron carrier in the mitochondrial respiratory chain and an important antioxidant. L-carnitine is intrinsically involved in mitochondrial metabolism and function as it plays a key role in fatty acid oxidation and energy metabolism.
In Particular, l-carnosine has some amazing properties and has many benefits. 
  • Modulate chronic low-grade inflammation
  • Lower oxidative stress
  • Reduced advanced glycation end products
  • Reduce ischemia or low oxygen
  • And decrease sympathetic nervous system activity

 

Other mitochondrial supports include PPQ (Pyrroloquinoline Quinone), Magnesium, NAD, Zinc, Various B-vitamins, and D-Ribose. 

Developed by Dr. Michael Kucera, MD, we take advantage of a highly specialized mitochondrial program to POWER up the mitochondria so that the body FINALLY has what it needs to ADAPT, REPAIR, and RECOVER from chronic illness. For more info, see the attached as well as these videos: Sheri Dixon and Anti-Aging and Dr. Kucera discussed Mitochondrial Health and Chronic Illness.

 In addition, we work with several other advanced mitochondrial supports, and sometimes these are needed in place of or in conjunction with this formulation. For a more in-depth presentation on mitochondria, please see this video for more info.:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwhnyk_1Uao&t=3650s

The timing of adding mitochondrial supports is of utmost importance in chronic illness. If used too early in the process the body is unable to take advantage of these nutrients. Often the cause of the mitochondrial dysfunction needs to be removed first before the body is adequately able to utilize the supports. 

Overall Benefits of Mitochondrial Support include:

  • Stress reduction
  • Better sleep
  • More energy
  • Less pain and inflammation
  • Improved brain function (concentration/memory)
  • Improved immunity
  • Weight loss (after about 3 months)
  • Increased athletic performance
  • Improved libido
  • Detoxification (Carnosine chelates Heavy metals and other toxins)
  • Improves cardiac function (Better oxygenation)
  • Less need for medicines and supplements (Close monitoring is needed if taking BP meds, Thyroid meds, diabetic meds)!
  • Eye health—macular degeneration improvements
  • Anti-anxiety and anti-depressant
  • Anti-aging effects (reduction of biological age up to 15 yrs after 1-2 yrs of use)
  • Anti-Cancer effects
  • Benefits were seen in almost every disease process.

For more information regarding use supports please contact our office for more info.

References:

  1. Translating the basic knowledge of mitochondrial functions to metabolic therapy: role of L-carnitine  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3590819/
  2. Aging, Proteotoxicity, Mitochondria, Glycation, NAD+ and Carnosine: Possible Inter-Relationships and Resolution of the Oxygen Paradox https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2874395/
  3. Coenzyme Q and Mitochondrial Disease https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3097389/
  4. Pyrroloquinoline Quinone Stimulates Mitochondrial Biogenesis through cAMP Response Element-binding Protein Phosphorylation and Increased PGC-1α Expression* https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2804159/
  5. Dr. Barbara de Courten, Carnosine Research,https://www.touchendocrinology.com/media_gallery/barbora-de-courten-ada-2018-carnosine-supplementation-in-diabetes-prevention/