Maintaining Your Mitochondria

Some of you reading this article may think what on earth is a mitochondria? Which is exactly what I thought the first time I came across this word while searching for a certain supplement. Following this I then heard a well-known bodybuilder mention it on a podcast so this spurred me to do a little research of my own…. And I’m glad I did.

Mitochondria are found in nearly every cell in the body apart from red blood cells, Mitochondria are responsible for converting energy from the food you ingest into a form that can be used by the body. Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are broken down inside your cells into components that enter the mitochondria. Throughout this process these micronutrients are converted to adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which is used in all of the body’s biological functions. To give you an idea of ATP’s life-sustaining importance, your body converts a volume of ATP equal to your entire weight every day.

Mitochondria - Image 1

During this energy intensive process of converting this chemical energy to ATP the mitochondria is constantly exposed to attack by free radicals making it vulnerable to oxidative stress. As a result of this the mitochondria gradually deteriorate leading to a decrease in ATP production and mitochondria decay.

So you may be thinking what this has got to do with me….

Well.. From around the age of 20 your mitochondria start to decay, mitochondria disfunction has been linked to 90% degenerative illnesses mainly in places like the brain, heart and liver where the most mitochondria are found. As it’s responsible for producing more than 90% of the energy we need to sustain life and support growth I think it’s pretty important we try to protect them.

So that was the bad news.. Now here’s the good news!

Mitochondrial damage and disfunction can be prevented and even reversed using the right supplements. Coq10 (ubiquinol), R-ALA, Acetyl- L-carnitine and PQQ (pyrroloquinoline quinone)

Let us take a look at each one…


Lipoic acid is a naturally occurring compound found in mitochondria. Like CoQ10, it is a coenzyme required for proper function of the mitochondrial energy chain. Lipoic acid directly increases ATP production in mitochondria. Studies show that lipoic acid may serve as a first-line defence for diseases involving impaired energy utilization, including diabetes and the nerve damage associated with it.

R-alpha-lipoic acid (R-ALA) is the most bioactive form of lipoic acid. A powerful antioxidant and a strong activator of mitochondrial energy processes. Studies in aging animals say that the use of R-ALA  improve mitochondrial function, decrease oxidative damage, and increase metabolic rate, all of which otherwise become impaired with aging.

R-alpha-lipoic acid displays many protective effects. It reverses the age-related increase in liver cell damage caused by exogenous toxins, helping to protect liver function. It prevents brain cells from becoming depleted of the natural antioxidant reduced glutathione which is an important intracellular antioxidant in the body.

Acetyl- L-carnitine

Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC) is the form of carnitine optimally absorbed through oral delivery, often referred to as your mitochondrial fat burner. L-carnitine is a molecule required for helping transport fatty acids into the mitochondria, where they can be burned as fuel. It has also been shown to boost mitochondrial health, facilitating fuel delivery to the electron transport chain, where supplements like CoQ10 and lipoic acid take over.

PQQ (pyrroloquinoline quinone)

PQQ is an essential nutrient, meaning that your body cannot make it on its own. A growing body of research indicates that PQQ’s unique nutritional profile supports heart health and heart cell function in the presence of free radicals.

As mentioned previously the enormous amount of energy generated within the mitochondria exposes them to constant free radical activity. This results in mitochondrial decay and is a hallmark of aging. PQQ protects against change in the mitochondrial structures to prevent decay and can actually promote the formation of new mitochondria, which in turn can reverse the effects of aging and age related mitochondrial diseases.

Like CoQ10, PQQ is a highly potent antioxidant and acts to protect the mitochondria’s own DNA. Its extraordinary molecular stability enables the mitochondria to go through all its biological processes without being broken down or attacked by free radicals.

Coenzyme q10 (C0q10)

Coq10 is an essential nutrient in healthy mitochondrial function. It’s used to produce the energy your body needs for cell growth and maintenance. It mainly functions as a hugely powerful antioxidant which protects the body from damage caused by the free radicals we spoke about earlier. However the body’s production of this significantly decreases with age. Ensuring we have ample amount of Coq10 in the most mitochondrial densely populated areas in the body like the heart, liver and kidneys will ensure it protects these areas against mitochondrial damage. Coq10 comes in two forms, ubiquinone and ubiquinol. Ubiquinol absorbed up to 8 times greater that ubinquinone and higher levels of ubiquinol remain in the blood far longer than ubiquinone.

So there you have it folks.. Maintain your mitochondria and stay awesome for longer

About the Author

Since the age of 7 when I first stepped foot on a rugby pitch, sport and fitness has been a major part of my life. I went on to play a decent standard of ruby which entailed a lot of different styles of training, on and off the pitch. The importance of fitness was further distilled in me when I joined the Army at the age of 16. The Army’s way of physically training it’s soldiers is very different from civilian PT, you are taught to dig deep and find the courage to never give up no matter how hard the exercise, and you must be seen to be giving 100% effort at all times. I loved the Army’s mentality towards training so I became an Army Physical Training Instructor (PTI). I was fortunate enough to be posted into the gym and my main focus was on preparing soldier’s physically for over sea’s operations. I have lifted weights now for around 8 years, I would say I have been seriously bodybuilding for maybe 2 years. When I left the army and started training at Maxxmuscle gym, home of IFBB Pro Anth Bailes, is when I started bodybuilding. Just talking to the guy makes you want to get on stage and he is defiantly a great ambassador for the sport. The army has always taught me that, to progress you need to have short and long term goals, discipline, and a passion for something. My passion is now the health, fitness and anything associated with them. I love training every single day, I love keeping track of my nutrition every single day, and I love helping people out with less knowledge than myself because I was once in their shoes. After competing in 2014 I became part of the monster supplements team. I consider this a massive privilege to have their backing during my 2015 offseason and further competitions to come.
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