If you are unfamiliar with mitochondrial dysfunction, you are not alone. Emerging research surrounding mitochondrial dysfunction, also referred to as mitochondrial disease, did not gain full momentum until the last few years. But, in fact, the first mitochondrial disorder was diagnosed as far back as the late 1950’s. However, a full understanding of the domino effect caused by mitochondrial dysfunction was delayed until recently due to modern advances in molecular medicine.
Mitochondrial dysfunction affects nearly every organ and system within the body, and is tied to various chronic conditions and symptoms.
Your mitochondria are susceptible to defects and damage for various reasons. Mitochondria are structurally unique because they were once a type of bacteria that invaded the cell. But through the course of evolution and time, mitochondria have made a permanent home in our cells. Unlike nuclear DNA, often seen in the shape of an ‘x’, mitochondrial DNA is always in the shape of a ring. While this allows the DNA to be transcribed easily, it also makes it vulnerable to damage.
Chronic stress, disease, certain prescribed drugs and opiates interfere with NAD+ metabolism, thus short circuiting the energy production of cells. This is like Superman trying to fly with kryptonite in his pocket.
- Oxidative Stress. Cells rely on oxygen and nitrogen for basic metabolism, but sometimes these elements can cause damage in the form of reactive oxidative species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS). Cells have natural defense mechanisms to protect against ROS and RNS damage, but sometimes these defense mechanisms can fail. Damage to cell membranes, DNA and proteins from ROS and RNS can severely impact the vitality of the cell.
- DNA Damage. Cells could not grow, divide or even survive without well preserved DNA. Key enzymes, known as sirtuins and PARPs, help repair DNA damage that has occurred from oxidative stress. These protective enzymes need NAD+ to repair the DNA damage. With excess DNA repair, mitochondria have little NAD available for energy production. Remember, NAD is used throughout biology to create energy within the cell.
- Poor Nutrition. This may seem obvious, but poor nutrition has serious implications on your mitochondrial health. Mitochondria depend on vitamins and minerals every second to function properly. Many of our diets are insufficient in minerals, trace elements and vitamins necessary for our metabolic processes.
- Aluminium. This heavy metal is known to interfere with ATP production by disrupting the cytoskeleton in the cell, which is similar to the support beams in your house. Think of the mitochondria as one room within a house. Mitochondrial dysfunction is a result of poor structural support. The main sources of aluminium are found in cosmetic products, over the counter medication and some pharmaceuticals. Even some of our food and water have trace amounts of aluminium. Other toxins and heavy metals poison the body leading to disease and dysfunction.
- Certain Prescription Drugs. There is no doubt that prescription medications have saved countless lives. If it wasn’t for recent advances in medicine, we would not be able to battle infections and control blood sugar levels. Alternatively, however, some medications can significantly affect our mitochondrial health.
Therapies for Mitochondrial Dysfunction
- Exercise. The most economical way to increase mitochondrial function is through exercise. Incorporating an exercise routine may seem like a daunting task to some, thus it is best to take small and gradual steps towards a type of exercise you find rewarding. One study evaluated the effects of exercise and observed improvements in mitochondrial function by 50%. This study evaluated mitochondrial DNA expression, energy production (electron transport chain) and membrane structure through cardiolipin.
- Sleep. The number one hack to help restore energy levels and mitochondrial function. Mitochondria are replenished while you sleep at night during your circadian cycle. A key enzyme called NAMPT is regulated by sleep. Furthermore, this enzyme becomes less active by eating and sedentary lifestyle. It is important to get quality sleep and exercise regularly in order to maintain healthy mitochondria.
- NAD+ Therapy. Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) is a crucial coenzyme for energy synthesis in the mitochondria. Additionally NAD+ is also a key activator of protective enzymes, including sirtuins and PARPs, which help repair DNA and protect the cell from dying. When cellular NAD+ levels fall past a particular threshold, the mitochondria are signaled to induce apoptosis, or programmed cell death.
If you are interested in NAD+ Therapy, contact us today for more information.
NAD+ qualifies as a supplement under the Food and Drug Administration guidelines and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.