8 pillars to optimal health – Improve mitochondrial health

Mitochondria are the energy producing furnaces of the body’s cells. Fats, carbohydrates and proteins can be metabolised to produce the body’s energy molecule called ATP.

First off carbohydrates undergo glycolysis, a process that metabolises glucose to create molecules of pyruvate. Glycolysis requires vitamins B1 and B2, magnesium and manganese as co-factors. Under the presence of oxygen pyruvate passes into the mitochondria where it is converted to acetyl CoA, with the help of vitamin B5. Certain amino acids can also be reduced to pyruvate with the help of B5, B6, B12, zinc and biotin, others are converted directly to acetyl CoA.

Acetyl CoA then enters the Krebs cycle where it is oxidised to produce ATP and carbon dioxide. This process requires B1, B2, B3, vitamin C and magnesium and produces electrons that are carried by B vitamin dependent coenzymes to produce a vast amount of ATP via the electron transport chain (ETC). The ETC is a series of electron carrying mitochondrial membrane proteins that requires B2, iron, sulphur, copper and CoQ10 to generate ATP.

Fatty acids are metabolised differently. The fatty acids undergo a process called beta oxidation inside the mitochondrial matrix to produce acetyl CoA. Carnitine based enzymes are required to transport fatty acids across the membrane of the mitochondria.

All life processes require ATP, thus looking after your mitochondria is essential for good health and good energy.

Boost mitochondrial health

  • It is known that exercise increases mitochondrial density within muscle tissue so simply exercising can increase your energy just by increasing the number of mitochondria you have.
  • Use foods high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals by using food tables that state the ORAC, phytonutrients index or Yale University’s Overall Nutritional Index – foods such as berries, prunes, broccoli and kale are usually always high on the these lists. Consider using alkalising high antioxidant drinks such as powdered greens and red drinks.
  • Take a multi vitamin and mineral to provide the host of nutrients needed by the mitochondria to produce ATP and consider extra carnitine and CoQ10.
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