Mitochondria are the cellular components responsible for generating the energy required to sustain life. Energy is produced from the flow of free electrons through the electron transport chain produced by oxidative phosphorylation. Because mitochondria serve as the powerhouse of the cell, their proper functioning is essential to the integrity and optimal performance of the living organism.
Cumulative oxidant stress is a major cause of mitochondrial dysfunction and is implicated as a principal underlying event in numerous degenerative diseases and age – related decline in physical and mental performance. Free radicals are normal byproducts of mitochondrial respiratory chain function. They can be damag ing when produced in excessive amounts and not neutralized by naturally occurring antioxidants. Their accumulation may lead to peroxidation of membrane lipids, decline in oxidative phosphorylation, inefficient electron transport, and further increased oxid ant flux. Repletion with specific nutrients necessary to support electron transport chain function and antioxidant protection appears to nutritionally support many age – and disease – associated deficits in mitochondrial function.
Coenzyme Q10. Coenzyme Q10 is a critical rate – limiting constituent of the mitochondrial electr on transport chain, the biochemical pathway in cellular respiration from which ATP (adenosine triphosphate) and metabolic energy are derived. When mitochondrial energetics are inhibited, such as occurs during stress, degenerative disease, or aging, demand for coenzyme Q10 increases which must be met by dietary intake in order to optimize mitochondrial function. Mitochondria are exposed to high levels of oxidant stress (i.e. free radical damage) during cellular respiration. Coenzyme Q10 is one of the key an tioxidant nutrients that protect mitochondrial membrane lipids and proteins and mitochondrial DNA from free radical – induced oxidative damage. It also regenerates and extends the action of vitamin E by reducing the α – tocopherol radical, thus further protec ting against membrane lipid peroxidation.
Acetyl – L – Carnitine (ALCAR). This multifunctional nutrient facilitates the transport of fatty acids into mitochondria where they are oxidized, thus providing a major source of energy for the heart, brain, and skeletal muscle. ALCAR also stimulates the synthesis of cardiolipin which plays a crucial role in mitochondrial membrane structure and function. Cardiolipin plays a pivotal role in maintaining mitochondrial proton gradients, permeability of inner mitochondria l membrane to small molecules, and activity of mitochondrial membrane translocase proteins. Cardiolipin content declines with age and oxidative stress.
Alpha – Lipoic Acid . Alpha – lipoic acid is a required coenzyme involved in the energy metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. It is also a potent antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals generated both inside and outside of membranes. In addition to its direct antioxidant activity, alpha – lipoic acid helps recycle vitamins C and E and stimulate s the synthesis of glutathione.
Vitamin C and Vitamin E. Vitamin C is a critical part of the glutathione/alpha – lipoic acid antioxidant pathway. Vitamin E protects against mitochondrial membrane lipid peroxidation, thereby preserving membrane stability and function.
N – Acetyl – L – Cysteine (NAC) . NAC is a nutrient precursor to glutathione and is effective at raising intracellular glutathione levels. Like alpha – lipoic acid, glutathione is an important antioxidant protector of mitochondrial membranes.
Magnesium Malate and Sodium Succinate. Malic acid and succinic acid are key metabolic intermediates in the Kreb’s citric acid cycle which is primarily responsible for the release of energy (as ATP) from food fuels.