Mitochondria Need Nutrients

Author: 5 Comments Share:
happy mitochondria
One of the more common questions I get asked is which nutrients do the mitochondria need to function well? This is really two questions. The first involves which nutrients are involved in the enzymatic processes that allow the mitochondria to convert food to ATP and to manage all of the other tasks that they are responsible for like inflammation, immune function, and steroidogenesis. The second question applies specifically to the individual. It is a question of what he/she needs to be healthy. The answers to both are entirely different. While it is true that there are a set of nutrient co-factors involved in the mitochondrial machinery and these are necessary for mitochondrial function for everyone, which ones and how much of each an individual may need to support his or her health varies significantly. Moreover, although there are baseline minimum nutrient requirements that tell us where insufficiency diseases are likely to development, what determines an individual’s health or disease is entirely dependent upon genetics, exposures, diet and lifestyle, and even day to day stress. Here, there is no one-size-fits all prescription for nutrient replacement and supplementation or even diet and exercise. This frustrates folks to no end and I think it is one of the reasons both patients and physicians are so reticent to look toward nutrient supplementation seriously as a therapeutic option.

Both the current model of medicine, and to a large degree, the way we approach nutritional therapies, relies very heavily on the silver bullet approach to health. If we’re honest with ourselves, so too do we. It is so much simpler to believe that if we just take X drug or vitamin in Y dose, all of our health issues will disappear and they will disappear at set rate that is linear and predictable. Unfortunately, this is not how the body works. While there is an internal chemistry that requires certain nutrients to function appropriately, that chemistry varies ever so slightly by genetics and is endlessly modified by life itself. There is no one-size-fit-all. There are no magic supplements. There is just your chemistry and your needs.

Since I have written repeatedly on the mitochondria and the reasons why nutrients are required for health, this post will not tackle those topics. Articles on those topics can be found on Hormones Matter with any number of search terms. This information can also be found in the book, Thiamine Deficiency Disease, Dysautonomia, and High Calorie Malnutrition, that I co-authored with Dr. Lonsdale. Here, since many have requested it, I just would like to present a graphic illustrating mitochondrial nutrient requirements. This is from Chapter 3 of our book. Use this as template to understanding your health.

Figure 1. Nutrient requirements for healthy mitochondria.

mitochondrial nutrientsA few things should be pointed out. First, while these nutrients are required by everyone for proper mitochondrial functioning, not everyone needs to supplement with each one, or even sometimes any of them, although that is becoming increasingly rare with modern dietary patterns. Secondly, notice how many times and where vitamin B1 (thiamine) appears in this chart. It is at the entry points of the entire system and at various junctures throughout. This suggests that among all of the nutrients required for healthy mitochondria, thiamine is particularly important. Unfortunately, it is the one nutrient that is so often ignored or missed in testing. Indeed, that is why we wrote the book. Thirdly, notice how many vitamins are required to process the food we eat into ATP. Contrary to popular opinion, we need more than simply empty calories. For the foods we eat to be converted into ATP, there are multitude of vitamins and minerals required that may or may not be included in sufficient density with the macronutrients we consume daily. Finally, not discussed in this chart, but discussed in great detail in the book, synthetic chemicals, whether in form of pharmaceuticals, industrial, environmental, or food production, damage the mitochondria. Some deplete nutrients directly, while others damage aspects of mitochondrial functioning that necessitate increased nutrient density for the enzyme machinery to work. Of course, underlying all of this, are the genetic variables that each of us brings to the table. These influence how well or poorly we metabolize any of these nutrients from the get-go. All of this combines to make nutrient therapies complicated.

What is not complicated, however, is that we need nutrients to function and so, no matter what else we do to improve health, if we do not address nutrient levels, we can never be well. Mitochondrial functioning demands nutrients, and thus, health demands the same. Nutrient deficiencies are not something we can override with a pharmaceutical. That being said, addressing nutrient deficiencies holds great promise for those seeking health. If you or someone you love experiences chronic and complicated illnesses that have been treatment refractory, consider healing the mitochondria by tackling nutrient deficiencies. You might be surprised at well this works.

We Need Your Help

More people than ever are reading Hormones Matter, a testament to the need for independent voices in health and medicine. We are not funded and accept limited advertising. Unlike many health sites, we don’t force you to purchase a subscription. We believe health information should be open to all. If you read Hormones Matter, like it, please help support it. Contribute now.

Yes, I would like to support Hormones Matter. 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share
Previous Article

The Catastrophic Effects of Polypharmacy and Medical Incompetence

Next Article

Maternal DES and Male Sexual Development

You may also like

5 Comments

  1. In 1987 I was told by Dr. Jonathan Wright (WA state) after testing that I and all 4 of my children have an under-functioning hypothalamus gland which of course results in secondary hormonal issues. Also my family was part of a study at Clayton Biochemical Institute at the UofTX in Austin and was told that myself and all 4 of our children could process only a small amt. of B2, B3, and biotin and our cells suck up 4 times the normal amount of calcium. Does the book cover metabolic problems with processing thiamine? I know that and lipoic acid have worked wonders for us. In fact an IV of thiamine was miraculous for about 24 hours. i have had periodic paralysis and several family members seizures.

  2. And what would you suggest as the best way to begin to tackle nutrient deficiencies? My doctors only check D, b12 and sometimes iron.

    Since July I’ve been struggling with acid reflux, gastritis
    Upper endoscopy showed damage to esophagus but no Barrett’s or cancer
    Prescribed nexium then protonix which somehow made asthma symptoms disappear. So stopped using Dulera (inhaler with steroid).
    The only other med I take is levoxyl plus hrt (patch and oral progesterone).
    Continued with the ppi per dr instruction. But over time had trouble with gas and digesting food easily. I was very fatigued.

    Then my finger joints began hurting off and on. Sometimes I could barely move them in the morning. I started to notice increased hair shedding which got alarmingly worse over the 3-4 months I was taking the protonix. Told the gastro who told me to tell the ending to check for adrenal suppression (because I had stopped dulera suddenly).

    Adrenal tests came back normal. My endo told me I was getting old and just had to expect these things. I’m 60 year old female btw. I’m not overweight (115lbs), never smoked, have a couple glasses of wine maybe once every 6 months.

    I could be wrong but I wonder if the ppi or stopping the dulera caused these issues. I stopped taking the protonix in October. My hair loss has continued but just this past week my hands seem to be getting a little better. I feel like everything got out of balance in July when this whole stomach issue began, if that makes sense. I know ppis can cause deficiencies but…I was told only if on long term a year or more.

    I have to say, for the first time in my life I feel brushed aside by my doctors. I guess they don’t take my hand pain, hair loss and fatigue seriously…since I’m “old”. I don’t want to give up. Any direction or suggestions would be welcome. Than you.

    1. Firstly, you need to get and read the book, so that you have an understanding of how mitochondria influence health. You should also read everything you can on the topic. You will have to become the expert in your own health. This is not something most physicians, unless you get lucky, will help with. Start with thiamine and magnesium and a good multi and go from there. But you really need to read up so that you understand the process.
      I would note also, the PPIs deplete many nutrients and actually make reflux worse over time. The cause of reflux is not too much acid but too little. We have an article on that as well. HRT depletes nutrients also.

      1. Dr Marrs or Dr. Lonsdale,

        Reading the article here “Back Pain and B Vitamins: Notes from Personal Experience” it seems Dr. Lonsdale had experienced a setback when he increased his thiamine dosage from 100mg to 200mg TTFD and realized he had to up the B complex dosage.
        https://www.hormonesmatter.com/back-pain-b-vitamins-notes-personal-experience/

        Is this typical of what you normally see in patients, necessitating a proportionate increase in co-factor vitamins and nutrients?

    2. Hi Christine,

      As people age, the absorption rate of potassium (check your blood level) decrease and lacking it can cause various symptoms that you describe. Youtube potassium deficiency symptoms to verify and try adding potassium citrate and turmeric (for inflammation) to your daily protocols in addition to what Dr. Marrs recommends.
      You’re actually lucky and must have good genetics to have your issues start at 60 years old, because for many the symptoms start much earlier especially with more frequent drinking habits.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

fourteen − 5 =

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.