In school, it was drilled into us that the mitochondria was the powerhouse of the cells. It was on every multiple choice test and the the punchline to nearly most biology jokes.
And yet no one ever taught us how to support our mitochondria or even how easy it is to damage it. One of my biggest symptoms was the constant pins and needles in my legs and feet. Every doctor I went to told me it was normal and I was just probably cold or stressed or tired (???). I’m here to tell you that your body communicates when something is wrong. Don’t ignore it!
So, what are some causes of mitochondrial damage?
Pathogens. Parasites and mold can overrun the mitochondria, making it harder for cellular energy (ATP) to be produced. Those who live or have lived near mold will usually find that their energy levels are very low.
Mineral imbalances. One of the pillars of all diseases, mineral imbalances need a 10-page article on their own, but in essence, low magnesium levels can plummet ATP production. While the function of ATP is well known and well recognized, few know that ATP is actually Mg-ATP. Magnesium is vital for efficient ATP production, and studies show that 75% of Americans do not get the recommended amount (and the RDA is already too low). Magnesium is the second most abundant mineral inside each cell, so one can only imagine the damage done when we are severely deficient.
Prescription medicine. Therapies like anti-depressants, birth control, and antibiotics, and statins can all damage the mitochondria.
Environmental toxins. Air pollution, heavy metals (lead), dirty water, pesticides and herbicides all wreck havoc on mitochondrial function.
Chronic stress. Studies have shown that stress can induce functional and structural changes in the mitochondria.
Sleep deprivation. Oxford's medical journal, Sleep, has made the connection that poor sleep quality and lack of sleep results in fewer copies of mitochondrial DNA in the blood cells. This leads to a shorter lifespan and overall poorer health.
Typical symptoms include:
- Severe, chronic fatigue
- Brain fog
- Sensation of pins and needles in the extremities
- Difficulty moving, or feeling slow/heavy
- Type 2 diabetes
- Weak metabolism
- Muscle weakness
- Hearing and vision problems
- Intellectual disability
- Depression, anxiety, and ADHD
Reversing mitochondrial dysfunction for some people can be as easy as laying in the sun and getting good quality sleep. But here are some other, more in-depth ways to support mitochondria:
Sunlight & red light therapy. The mitochondria have special photoreceptors, called cytochrome c oxidase, that allow them to capture the photons of red and near-infrared light. This process helps the mitochondria to produce energy more efficiently. Red light therapy can also increase the number of mitochondria while simultaneously improving their function in the cells. Sunlight is one of the most beneficial therapies available to everyone.
Magnesium Bicarbonate. Because magnesium is so important for ATP production, it's essential to supplement because most of us are deficient. Magnesium Bicarbonate is the most natural and bio-available form of magnesium. Magnesium flake baths can also be used.
Alpha-lipoic acid. A naturally occurring antioxidant that's made in the body, alpha-lipoic acid helps to improve mitochondrial function while also decreasing oxidative stress. Lipoic acid is an enzymatic cofactor that helps to convert food energy such as sugars and proteins, into ATP.
Good quality sleep is essential to the body to repair and detox. Turning off all LED lights and using light dimmers a few hours before bed can help set the circadian rhythm to improve sleep. Before bedtime, limit screen time and try a relaxing herbal tea of lemon balm, passionflower, or chamomile.
Coenzyme Q10. CoQ10 is an antioxidant that the cells provide to the mitochondria for protection and support. Without this essential antioxidant, ATP production decreases. CoQ10 is depleted through environmental toxins and statin drugs.
MitoAPT from CellCore (requires a practitioner code), or MitoRestore from Microbe Formulas (same company).
Meditation and breathwork. Releasing emotions and lowering stress are also important factors, as our mental health can affect our physical bodies.
Do you have any of these common symptoms? Get yourself out into the sun, pour yourself some warm lemon balm tea, and throw out all of your LED lights. Your mitochondria will thank you.
In my opinion, magnesium bicarbonate is the single most important thing to supplement. If you supplement nothing else, mag bicarb should be the one thing. We no longer get it from our water supply due to modern water treatment and most natural water sources have since been polluted.
This wraps up my drainage series for now, but I’ll still be talking about these critical pathways for a long time to come.
I hope you find this information useful, as it has served me so much in the past year.