February 1, 2016
355 Mitochondria & Degenerative Disease [1 Feb 2016]
I enjoyed reading the book “Oxygen: the molecule that made the world” by Nick Lane so I bought his book about mitochondria with the eye-catching title “Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the meaning of life” (I’m sure the publishers, rather than the authors, come up with these titles!). The mercola.com topic for January 24 was “How your mitochondria influence your health” which featured Dr. Rhonda Patrick, a biomedical scientist.
Dr. Patrick has studied the roles of micronutrients and degenerative diseases, particularly as they relate to mitochondria. She is a frequent speaker, prolific writer and runs her own website (foundmyfitness.com) where she shares her insights with the public.
I wrote several columns about mitochondria last January (#301, #302, #303). To review: mitochondria are tiny organelles inside almost every cell of our body which generate the energy for all cell functions by converting our food to CO2 and water in a complex biochemical pathway called respiration. In the process of respiration electrons sometimes leak out of the system where they combine with oxygen or nitrogen to form free radicals called Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) or Reactive Nitrogen Species (RNS) which can damage the mitochondrial DNA. Damage to the DNA eventually results in the death of the mitochondrion. When enough mitochondria die, the cell dies; when enough cells in a tissue or organ dies, the organ fails causing degenerative disease and ultimately our own death.
So what can we do to slow the free radical damage to our cells:
• ensure we have sufficient micronutrients to prevent free radical formation: Co-enzyme Q10, L-carnitine, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, all B vitamins, ALA.
• especially magnesium which is essential for the enzymes which repair damaged DNA and for mitochondrial biogenesis (creating of new mitochondria)
• exercise induces mitochondrial biogenesis which reduces free radical creation by spreading out the workload so the mitochondria can work more efficiently
• avoid over eating and eating before bedtime which causes the respiration pathway to back up spilling more electrons and creating more free radicals
In summary, looking after our mitochondria will go far in avoiding degenerative disease and premature death, and help us enjoy a longer and higher-quality life.
For those so inclined, here is a more scholarly article on mitochondrial DNA damage and longevity: Reinald Pamplona, “Mitochondrial DNA Damage and Animal Longevity: Insights from Comparative Studies,” Journal of Aging Research, vol. 2011.
For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.