What are Mitochondria and What Do They Do?
Mitochondria are membrane-bound cell organelles (specialized structures that perform various jobs inside cells) that generate most of the chemical energy needed to power the cell’s biochemical reactions. Think of your mitochondria as energy factories within your cells.
Mitochondria take nutrients into the cell, break them down, and create energy for the cell. The biochemical processes of the cell are known as cellular respiration. Many of the reactions involved in cellular respiration happen in the mitochondria. Mitochondria keep the cell full of energy.
Mitochondria float free throughout the cell. Some cells have several thousand mitochondria while others have none. For instance, muscle cells need a lot of energy, so they have a lot of mitochondria. Neurons (cells that transmit nerve impulses) don’t need as many. If a cell feels it is not getting enough energy to survive, more mitochondria can be created. It depends on the needs of the cell.
If mitochondria aren’t functioning properly, your cells aren’t fed. All of the energy you make stems from these tiny machines and the chemical energy produced by the mitochondria is stored in a small molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
What Can Slow Down these Energy Producing Machines?
Diet, lifestyle, and environmental toxins can all stop the mitochondria from functioning properly, leaving you feeling fatigued, or even ill.
Some contributors to mitochondrial damage include environmental toxins (pollution, chemicals, pesticides), toxins in your food (chemical preservatives), and a diet that includes a lot of refined carbohydrates and added sugars.
If you are lacking in the nutrition that mitochondria need to operate, such as Vitamin B1 (thiamin) and magnesium this can compromise their ability to create enough energy. These two nutrients are the main fuel igniters and act as the “spark plug” that allows your food or stored fat to be burned as energy.
Ways to Perk Up Your Mitochondria
Here are some steps you can take to revitalize your mitochondria and increase your energy:
– Eat natural, whole foods
– Eat more vegetables and fruit
– Avoid packaged and processed foods
– Incorporate exercise into your schedule (30 minutes a day, 5 days a week)
– Pay attention to your breathing and ensure you are taking some good, deep breaths to give your body a good amount of oxygen
– Take a supplement with ingredients shown to promote increased mitochondrial function and regeneration.
One such ingredient is PQQ (pyrroloquinoline quinone). PQQ is not considered to be a vitamin rather a vitamin like compound which occurs naturally in certain plant foods. Preliminary research shows that it may possess a host of benefits for both brain and bodily function.
How Does PQQ Work?
PQQ is a very potent antioxidant which provides significant protection against mitochondrial damage. It also acts as a cofactor for the unique class of enzyme involved with cellular growth, development and survival. An exciting finding emerged from a study published in 2010 which demonstrated that not only did PQQ protect the mitochondria from damage, but it could also stimulate the growth of brand-new mitochondria. (1)
A word of caution: if you do decide to try PQQ in supplement form, ensure the ingredient is natural PQQ, not synthetic PQQ. Only natural PQQ will give the best results.
- Pyrroloquinoline quinone stimulates mitochondrial biogenesis through cAMP response element-binding protein phosphorylation and increased PGC-1alpha expression. Winyoo Chowanadisai1, Kathryn A Bauerly, Eskouhie Tchaparian, Alice Wong, Gino A Cortopassi, Robert B Rucker