Mitochondria are the powerhouses inside your cells.
They covert the energy from food into ATP to fuel every process and movement in your body, but this energy production requires a complex series of chemical reactions, cofactors, enzymes, oxygen supply, and finely- tuned electrochemical gradients across cell membranes to work properly.
This complexity is why mitochondria are so susceptible to damage from MANY types of insults and nutritional deficiencies. Fatigue is a hallmark symptom of mitochondrial dysfunction and this dysfunction is present in many chronic illnesses that are now so common.
Free radicals, if left unchecked, float in and around your cells and do damage to DNA, cell membranes, proteins, and other molecules and negatively impact tissue & organ function. When mitochondria and cells become damaged, this in turn creates even more free radicals = self-feeding cycle.
So what can you do about it? Free radicals are neutralized by antioxidants! :) One of the many reasons why an antioxidant-rich, plant-based diet is so important.
Energy production is required by every organ system in the body, so symptoms of mitochondrial damage and insufficiency can be widespread across multiple areas of the body, which is why it is associated with so many chronic illnesses.
For this reason, supporting mitochondrial function with diet, lifestyle, and supplements is one of the first recommendations a functional medicine practitioner will make.
Without correcting mitochondrial function, it will be very challenging for your body to heal.
Symptoms of Mitochondrial Damage & Insufficiency
Chronic & intermittent fatigue is a hallmark symptom, but dysfunction is also seen in:
Brain function (brain fog, memory, mood)
Nerve function (loss of coordination, chronic pain, poor eyesight)
Muscle tissue (rigidity & weakness - including the heart)
GI system (pain, nutrient malabsorption, motility issues)
Hormone production (cholesterol is processed in mitochondria to form the building blocks for estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, cort