What are Mitochondria and What is their Importance to Our Health?

Posted on

How you can you keep your Mitochondria healthy?

Mitochondria are discussed in antiaging advertising like they are understood by the common man.  Even TV discussions and podcasts discuss mitochondria like we are all biology majors, but to most people mitochondria is a word but most people don’t know really what they are.  Most people think Mitochondria are “good”, but what are they? Some examples of ads that use the word Mitochondria, reads

“Take these Anti-oxidants every day and you will heal your mitochondria, and live longer…”

“Your mitochondria are sick and need to be treated with BLANK to bring you back to health, just buy….”

In reality, most students of biology and medical doctors are the only people who understand what they are and how they work, what can make them “sick”, and how to make them operate normally within each cell of our body. Simply mitochondria are organelles that take BS and Oxygen and make energy.  You can think of it as “breathing for the cell” , by taking blood sugar and O2 and creating energy, CO2 (carbon dioxide) and water H2O.  Mitochondria are the tiny determiners of our ability to metabolize food and make the energy the cell needs to do its job effectively.

I bet you never thought anything about the fact that when you breath oxygen it goes into your blood stream on your red blood cells, and delivered to your tissues by diffusion through capillaries and enters the cells within your tissues…but what does it do then to sustain us?  That is where Mitochondria come in…as they work as I described in the previous paragraph.

Another important piece of information about the mitochondria is that they are passed from mother to child, which means your metabolism is secondary to the genes only your mother gave you!  We call this genetic communicator that tells cells how to function metabolically, mitochondrial DNA!

To locate our mitochondria, we must take a microscope to the human body, and successively dissect her into smaller and smaller parts:  A whole human body, divided into organ systems eg. Skin, Gastrointestinal system, then divided into smaller parts called tissues such as muscles and neuro-tissue.  Smaller still are the specialized cells that make up the tissues, call cells.  Smaller still are the mitochondria that are located within each cell in the body, providing energy to the cell, to make the whole-body work!

Mitochondria are small, oval, sub-cellular “ energy packs” located inside every cell in our bodies.  These small oranelles within our cells turn sugar (glucose) from our food, into ATP (energy) and Carbon Dioxide (CO2).  They act like miniature lungs, taking in sugar which is made of oxygen and carbon, and returning CO2 as a by-product.   Scientists say that mitochondria’s activity is “respiration”!  The CO2 passes out of the cell and is excreted by the lungs.

So why do we use Mitochondria as a catchword for a way to sway lay people to buy a product to keep them healthy?  It is a way to explain complicated physiology to people who aren’t trained in a particular science like medicine or biology, and a way to sell products.  The word mitochondria is associated with sickness and how to get better and it becomes a catch word everyone knows and wants to “fix”.

However, if it is a fad or an advertising method to sell something, knowledge of what mitochondria need to make energy, is a valid pursuit. 

In short, your cells need plenty of oxygen, healthy foods, exercise and a clean environment to make energy effectively in your mitochondria.

Because our food sources do not have adequate nutrition for us and our mitochondria, we must eat foods that are particularly packed with nutrients and or add supplements such as resveratrol, Alpha-Lipoic Acid, L-carnitine and omega 3 oils to heal our “sick mitochondria”.

All the while we are trying to “help our mitochondria” with nutritious food and supplements, many of us are inactivating our mitochondria just when we need them most!  How you ask? Those of the many people who take statins are inactivating their mitochondria 24-7.  That is how a statin works!  Statins inactivate mitochondria to decrease the production of cholesterol in the cells.  So why are we killing our ability to make energy and to be healthy, just to decrease our chance of getting heart disease later?

Statins are only worth the risk if you have already had a heart attack or are about to have one and have narrowed atherosclerotic arteries.  Statins don’t treat anything, but your cholesterol lab values, and only prevent additional buildup of more plaque. Some of my patients think statins are cleaning up the arteries, but they do not do that!  The risk for a heart attack includes blocked arteries, inflammation, smoking and a high Homocysteine level and Family history.  To clean up blood vessels, Zetia is the atherosclerotic cleaner-upper without the risks of a statin!  Zetia leaves your mitochondria alone!

To know if you actually have atherosclerotic plaque, you should have a cardiac calcium scan to see if you do or not!  I have high cholesterol, and no plaque (I had one test in 2002, and one in 2019. High cholesterol doesn’t necessarily lead to heart disease, but it does definitely stop your mitochondria from working!

Since the mitochondria are so important to health, we will talk about How mitochondria can get sick and cause us to be sick in many ways throughout our body.

This Health cast was written and presented by Dr. Kathy Maupin, M.D., Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Expert and Author. www.BioBalanceHealth.com • (314) 993-0963. Please subscribe to our YouTube channel and please check “ Like “.  Follow us on Facebook and Instagram at BioBalanceHealth.

Related Post: