Mitochondria play an essential role in our body as the cell’s powerhouse. For that reason, a decline in the mitochondria function might cause substantial adverse effects, leading to a variety of health problems. Please read this article to learn everything you need to know about mitochondria and mitochondrial dysfunction.
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Learn Everything You Need to Know About Mitochondrial Dysfunction
Mitochondria – the Cell’s Powerhouse
Mitochondria are the essential organelles responsible for cellular energy production by converting substances from food consumption into energy, hence known as the cell’s powerhouse. These organelles are present in most cells in the body; the only cells which do not have mitochondria are the red blood cells. Mitochondria produce a considerable amount of energy, accounting for 90 percent of the body’s energy to function.
Due to aging and chronic diseases, mitochondrial membranes, the thin layer forming the outer boundary of mitochondria, might be impaired, leading to the progressive decline of mitochondrial function. Consequently, mitochondria cannot produce sufficient energy for the body to function correctly.
Mitochondrial dysfunction refers to the loss of mitochondrial function that results in excess fatigue and other common symptoms in many chronic diseases. According to a review, these chronic diseases include neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular diseases, autoimmune diseases, gastrointestinal disorders, fatiguing illnesses, cancer, and chronic infections.
Besides being affected by aging and chronic diseases, mitochondrial diseases can be hereditary. According to The United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation (UMDF), about 1,000 to 4,000 infants in the United States are born with a mitochondrial disease each year. Further, a child born with the mitochondrial disease might develop the condition by age 10.
Mitochondrial Dysfunction Symptoms
Mitochondrial diseases are often misdiagnosed for other conditions due to the number of symptoms and organ systems involved, such as the brain, muscles, and heart. As mentioned earlier, mitochondrial dysfunction results in excess fatigue and other symptoms found in many chronic diseases. Accordingly, mitochondrial dysfunction indications include fatigue and the shared symptoms present in several chronic diseases.
Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Fatigue
According to a review, mitochondrial dysfunction is directly linked to excess fatigue. Although mild fatigue can be due to various causes, moderate to severe fatigue, such as extremely poor stamina, and delayed post-exertional fatigue, results from the disruption of cellular energy. Specifically, moderate to extreme fatigue is associated with a loss of mitochondrial function and diminished ATP production at the cellular level.
According to a study, mitochondrial dysfunction is the direct source of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) symptoms. Chronic fatigue syndrome is a complicated disorder marked by extreme fatigue that lasts at least six months. The fatigue is exacerbated by physical or mental exertion and does not alleviate with rest. According to the findings, all 71 individuals in the study had moderate to severe symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.
Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Symptoms in Chronic Diseases
Because mitochondrial dysfunction affects so many organs in the body, patients may experience a wide range of symptoms. This section focuses on how mitochondrial dysfunction affects the brain and heart, creating similar symptoms in neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases.
According to a review, there is a link between mitochondrial dysfunction and Alzheimer’s disease. This link is backed by many studies showing that mitochondrial dysfunction is prevalent in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. The review also mentioned a study in which mitochondrial dysfunction is an early event of Alzheimer’s pathology in mice, and the mitochondrial dysfunction worsens with age.
Due to this, individuals with mitochondrial dysfunction might suffer from mild memory loss and poor judgment leading to bad decisions, with some potential severe symptoms such as increased confusion and inability to learn new things.
On the other hand, because the heart relies on the energy produced by the mitochondria to operate, mitochondrial dysfunction has been linked to cardiovascular disorders. According to a review, mitochondrial dysfunction has a role in heart failure and is associated with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Further, there is a relationship between left ventricular noncompaction and mitochondrial dysfunction in children.
Therefore, individuals with mitochondrial dysfunction might suffer from respiratory or breathing problems, chest discomfort, dizziness, and fainting.
Mitochondrial Dysfunction Causes
Since mitochondrial dysfunction can be inherited, as mentioned above, it can be caused by abnormalities in genes, such as mutated or defective genes, from the parents as a child is born. Mitochondrial dysfunction can be present from birth or develop later in life. Learning how the mitochondrial disease is inherited can help predict whether the condition will be passed down to future generations.
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Mitochondrial Dysfunction Treatment
Several natural supplements have been used to help improve mitochondrial dysfunction. These supplements include vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Among these supplements, CoQ10 is an antioxidant that can be effective in mitigating fatigue and mitochondrial dysfunction.
Coenzyme Q10, commonly known as CoQ10, is a molecule that aids in cellular energy production, a process performed by the mitochondria. CoQ10 is naturally produced in the body and is stored in the cells’ mitochondria. CoQ10 is essential for cell growth and maintenance.
CoQ10 levels in the body, on the other hand, diminish with age. Due to this, CoQ10 supplementation has been shown to help individuals with mitochondrial dysfunction. According to a review, CoQ10 supplementation can increase energy production, reduce fatigue, and ultimately enhance physical exercise. CoQ10 has also proven to positively affect neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease and cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension and heart failure.
Other treatments for mitochondrial dysfunction to help reduce symptoms or slow the decline in health might include endurance and strength exercises such as walking, running, swimming, and weight lifting to increase muscle size and strength.
Please remember that while there are no particular cures for mitochondrial diseases, those affected by them need not be overly concerned, as many affected children and adults lead relatively normal lives. Most importantly, you should avoid circumstances that might exacerbate a medical condition.
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