Skip to content
Free U.S. Shipping on All Orders!
Free U.S. Shipping on All Orders!
Why the Mitochondria is the Powerhouse of the Cell

Why the Mitochondria is the Powerhouse of the Cell

Mitochondria are tiny organelles inside every cell of your body. They are well known as the “powerhouse of the cell” because they produce energy. However, mitochondria play many other roles in the health of the cell and overall health. 

Yet, mitochondria are also easily damaged by normal byproducts of energy production and, increasingly, by environmental toxins. If you want to learn how to keep your mitochondria happy for more energy, clear thinking, and total body wellness, this article is for you. 

Keep reading to learn more about:

  • The structure of your cells
  • Mitochondrial structure and genetics
  • Energy production and ATP
  • Mitochondria and health
  • Cell membrane health and phosphatidylcholine
  • How to support your mitochondria

Cellular Structure

Let’s take a stroll into cell biology. Unlike prokaryotic cells, which are single-cell organisms, eukaryotic cells contain a nucleus and characterize plant, human, and animal cells

In humans and animals, eukaryotic cells have a phospholipid membrane that gives the cell strength and flexibility. The inner cytoplasm contains tiny structures called organelles that serve specific purposes. 

Examples of these organelles include:

  • Ribosomes – use messenger RNA for the synthesis of proteins.
  • Endoplasmic reticulum – a network of tubes involved in the replication and modification of proteins.
  • Golgi complex –membrane-bound organelles that package molecules as they come out of the endoplasmic reticulum.
  • Lysosomes – small, membrane-bound vesicles containing enzymes for the transportation and breakdown of molecules within the cell. 
  • Mitochondria – site of energy (ATP) production and more.

All About Mitochondria

Each mitochondrion has a double membrane structure that creates four compartments:

  • The outer membrane is made of phospholipids.
  • The intermembrane space – the space between the two membranes.
  • The inner membrane is made of phospholipids. This membrane contains folds, called cristae, that increase the surface area.
  • The matrix – the inner area of the mitochondrion, contains cytoplasm. (Source 1)

Interestingly, mitochondria share many similarities to bacteria, suggesting that mitochondria evolved from prokaryotes. (Source 1)

Mitochondria have their own DNA separate from the DNA found in the cell’s nucleus. The mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is located in the cytoplasm of the mitochondria and contains 37 genes. Mothers pass their mitochondrial genome to their babies. (Source 1, 2)

While all cells contain mitochondria, some cells have more than others, depending on how much energy they need to produce. Mitochondria may take up as much as 25% of the volume of the cell! (Source 3)

“While all cells contain mitochondria, some cells have more than others, depending on how much energy they need to produce. Mitochondria may take up as much as 25% of the volume of the cell!”

An average cell may contain between 1000 and 2500 mitochondria. Brain and muscle cells may have more because of their high energy requirements. A mature female egg contains the most mitochondria of any cell, often between 100,000 and 600,000! (Source 3, 4)

Mitochondria and ATP Energy Production

Adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, is the energy currency of the cell. Energy is released when ATP breaks apart into adenosine diphosphate (ADP) and phosphate. The cell uses this energy to serve all its functions. 

The primary function of mitochondria is to produce ATP through the citric acid cycle and electron transport chain. Also known as cellular respiration, the mitochondria take sugars and oxygen and produce energy (ATP) and carbon dioxide. 

“While all cells contain mitochondria, some cells have more than others, depending on how much energy they need to produce. Mitochondria may take up as much as 25% of the volume of the cell!”

The citric acid cycle, also known as the Krebs cycle or TCA cycle, begins with acetyl coA derived from glucose, fatty acids, and specific proteins from the food you eat. Through eight enzymatic reactions, the cycle creates electrons that go through the electron transport chain at the inner mitochondrial membrane. (Source 1)

Learn more about the citric acid cycle, electron transport chain, and the nutrient requirements of energy production in this article

A byproduct of oxidation in the mitochondria is reactive oxygen species (ROS), free radicals that can damage cell membranes, genetic material, and mitochondria. (Source 1)

Mitochondria and Health

While ATP production is significant and essential, it’s not the only role mitochondria play in cellular and system-wide health. 

“While ATP production is significant and essential, it’s not the only role mitochondria play in cellular and system-wide health.” 

Mitochondria are also essential for:

  • Cell cycle regulation and homeostasis
  • Cell differentiation 
  • Regulation of cellular processes and metabolism
  • Immune and stress signaling 
  • Cell death (apoptosis) (Source 1)

Free radicals produced by metabolism or toxins that enter the body cause cell membrane and mitochondrial damage, affecting energy production, cell regulation, and all cellular processes. 

Mitochondrial dysfunction contributes to many diseases, including:

  • Mitochondrial disease
  • Neurodegenerative disease, including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) 
  • Cancer
  • Lung disease, including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Kidney disease and diabetic kidney disease (Source 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)

Protection of the mitochondria requires good metabolic health, sufficient antioxidant levels, and the proper repair and replacement of membrane lipids, including phosphatidylcholine. 

Mitochondria and Phosphatidylcholine

Phosphatidylcholine is a primary phospholipid, composed of a phosphate head that is water soluble and a lipid tail that is fat soluble. Phosphatidylcholine is required for every cell and mitochondrial membrane, making up to half of the total phospholipids in the body. 

Cells require phosphatidylcholine for membrane integrity and structure, allowing for healthy cellular processes and mitochondrial function. On a macro level, phosphatidylcholine benefits the brain, liver, gut, and more

“Cells require phosphatidylcholine for membrane integrity and structure, allowing for healthy cellular processes and mitochondrial function.”

The body can make phosphatidylcholine, but the process is very energy intensive, which requires many nutrient cofactors and well-functioning methylation pathways. Read more about the phosphatidylcholine and methylation cycle connection here

How to Protect and Optimize Your Mitochondria

If you want more energy, better focus, sharp memory, and prevent chronic disease, don’t neglect your mitochondria. They need support too! 

Here are some ways to show your mitochondria some love:

  1. Eat a nutrient-dense diet and focus on micronutrients. Skip the processed items and choose whole, unprocessed food most of the time. You can add in a quality multivitamin with minerals to provide the cofactors needed for ATP production and antioxidant protection. 
  1. Up your antioxidants. Antioxidants are micronutrients like vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and zinc, as well as other compounds and phytonutrients including coenzyme Q10, alpha lipoic acid, curcumin, resveratrol, glutathione, NAD+, and more. You’ll get these nutrients through a balanced whole-food diet and supplementation. 
  1. Get quality sleep. Sleep is the time when your body builds and repairs. Poor sleep or insufficient sleep may impact your body’s ability to build and repair mitochondria, leaving you feeling even more tired the next day. 
  1. Exercise. Of course, exercise is vital for health, and one reason why is because movement impacts mitochondria. Cells adapt to exercise by creating more mitochondria, which is good for metabolism and health. 
  1. Take phosphatidylcholine. Every cell and mitochondrion need a supply of phosphatidylcholine. Taking a phosphatidylcholine supplement helps take the pressure off the body to produce enough, allowing those resources for other tasks. 

CoreMed Science Liposomal PC Complex provides natural phospholipids, including phosphatidylcholine derived from sunflower. This supplement is doctor-formulated, soy-free, and easily absorbed and utilized by the body. It’s so effective that many people report noticing more energy, focus, and clear vision in as little as 30 minutes after use. 

The mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell, and their health and protection are critical for cellular health and whole body well-being. In addition to diet and lifestyle support, Liposomal PC Complex is an easy way to improve mitochondrial function throughout the body and feel better quickly. 

“The mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell, and their health and protection are critical for cellular health and whole body well-being. In addition to diet and lifestyle support, Liposomal PC Complex is an easy way to improve mitochondrial function throughout the body and feel better quickly.”


References

  1. Anderson, A. J., Jackson, T. D., Stroud, D. A., & Stojanovski, D. (2019). Mitochondria-hubs for regulating cellular biochemistry: emerging concepts and networks. Open biology9(8), 190126. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6731593/ 
  2. NIH National Human Genome Research Institute. Mitochondrial DNA. Accessed 3/1/23 at: https://www.genome.gov/genetics-glossary/Mitochondrial-DNA 
  3. Pizzorno J. (2014). Mitochondria-Fundamental to Life and Health. Integrative medicine (Encinitas, Calif.)13(2), 8–15. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4684129/ 
  4. The Embryo Project Encyclopedia. Mitochondria DNA (mtDNA). Accessed 3/1/23 at: https://embryo.asu.edu/pages/mitochondrial-dna-mtdna 
  5. Johnson, J., Mercado-Ayon, E., Mercado-Ayon, Y., Dong, Y. N., Halawani, S., Ngaba, L., & Lynch, D. R. (2021). Mitochondrial dysfunction in the development and progression of neurodegenerative diseases. Archives of biochemistry and biophysics702, 108698. Abstract: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33259796/ 
  6. Zhang, J., Bao, Y., Zhou, X., & Zheng, L. (2019). Polycystic ovary syndrome and mitochondrial dysfunction. Reproductive biology and endocrinology : RB&E17(1), 67. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6698037/ 
  7. Srinivasan, S., Guha, M., Kashina, A., & Avadhani, N. G. (2017). Mitochondrial dysfunction and mitochondrial dynamics-The cancer connection. Biochimica et biophysica acta. Bioenergetics1858(8), 602–614. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5487289/ 
  8. Prakash, Y. S., Pabelick, C. M., & Sieck, G. C. (2017). Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Airway Disease. Chest152(3), 618–626. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5812762/ 
  9. Chistiakov, D. A., Shkurat, T. P., Melnichenko, A. A., Grechko, A. V., & Orekhov, A. N. (2018). The role of mitochondrial dysfunction in cardiovascular disease: a brief review. Annals of medicine50(2), 121–127. Abstract: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29237304/
  10. Forbes, J. M., & Thorburn, D. R. (2018). Mitochondrial dysfunction in diabetic kidney disease. Nature reviews. Nephrology14(5), 291–312. Abstract: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29456246/ 
Previous article Quercetin Side Effects Thyroid
Next article How Long Does It Take for Vitamin B12 to Work?