Mitochondria in our cells are responsible for producing energy (called ATP). High-energy demand organs (including the heart, muscles, and brain) require more mitochondria to produce sufficient energy.
Mitochondrial disease occurs when mitochondria don’t produce the necessary energy for the body to function properly, which is typically a genetic, inherited, and long-term condition. Mitochondrial disease occurs in one in 5,000 individuals.
Mitochondrial dysfunction is not a genetically inherited trait, but rather occurs when mitochondria don’t function as they should because of other conditions, like aging.
Mitochondrial dysfunction has been described as a hallmark of aging because, over time, mitochondria become less able to provide cellular energy.
Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Aging
Mitochondria house a complicated quality control system that functions to minimize mitochondrial damage by either generating new mitochondria or removing damaged mitochondria in a process that forms the basis of aging.
Somatic mutation in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) specifically has been linked to the onset and progression of human cancer. As mammals age, somatic mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) accumulates. Somatic mutations interrupt the function of the electron transport chain (ETC), a mitochondrial pathway key to the production of ATP.
Studies on mtDNA in mice have demonstrated that high levels of somatic mtDNA mutations induce aging factors, including osteoporosis, hair loss, greying of the hair, weight reduction, and decreased fertility. Age-associated mitochondrial dysfunction is also linked to increased cell loss.
Mitochondrial Dysfunction Symptoms
Chronic fatigue is considered a hallmark symptom of mitochondrial dysfunction.
The degradation of mitochondrial function and oxidant production is linked to the typical processes of aging and the development of age-related disease. These include cardiac and neurodegenerative diseases, muscle atrophy, sarcopenia, cardiac and immune system disorders, hepatic dysfunction, kidney failure, and cancer.
Other conditions linked to mitochondrial dysfunction include diabetes, fibromyalgia, and mental disorders, including schizophrenia and bipolar disease.
Mitochondrial Dysfunction Treatment
Treatment for mitochondrial dysfunction is mostly geared toward relieving symptoms and maintaining optimal health. This includes a regimen of vitamins, preventive measures to reduce or minimize symptom worsening, and avoiding mitochondrial toxins.
Regular exercise is also recommended to “preserve the energetic properties of skeletal muscle” and stave off its decline.
Mitochondrial Dysfunction Supplements
Clinical trials suggest that oral replacement supplements, including l-carnitine, alpha-lipoic acid (α-lipoic acid [1,2-dithiolane-3-pentanoic acid]), coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10 [ubiquinone]), reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH), and membrane phospholipids can improve cell function.
These supplements can be combined to naturally restore mitochondrial function and significantly reduce chronic symptoms such as fatigue.
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