Mitochondrial Antioxidants - Function to Extinguish Mitochondrially Produced Free Radicals Before They Damage the Mitochondria and Go Out Into the Cell and Damage it As Well.
Mitochondria are the power generating organelles* inside our cells (cells have as many mitochondria as they need to meet their energy requirements, for instance heart cells have thousands while bone cells may only have one) that produce the energy that our cells use to function. In creating energy from food and oxygen, the mitochondria are are the core of our lives. * An interesting similarity exists between internal combustion engines and mitochondria; they both produce burning byproducts of energy creation - heat in a car engine and free radicals (positively charged, unstable atoms) in the mitochondria. In a car engine, lubrication and coolant systems are employed to prevent damaging heat buildup. In our cellular mitochondrial engines, specialized antioxidants perform the role of cooling or neutralizing the free radical byproducts of energy creation.
Cellular mitochondria through complex reduction/oxidation chemical reactions extract energy from fuel (fat or carbohydrate) in the presence of oxygen to release energy. During this process of chemically extracting energy from fuel, and due to inherent inefficiencies in energy production*, about 200,000 mitochondrial free radicals (superoxide anion oxides) are created per second per mitochondria. * (mitochondria are still four times more efficient than internal combustion engines)
Quintillions of Free Radicals Are Created Each Day in the Mitochondria
A human body has up to 75 trillion cells. Many of these cells contain numerous mitochondria that are each producing up to 200,000 free radicals per second. That means that quintillions of superoxide anion free radicals are created daily within a human body. If these mitochondrial free radicals are NOT quickly (within milliseconds of creation) quenched they will damage the mitochondria and escape out into the cell and do damage to other cellular organelles, such as the DNA and cellular membranes.
DNA Damage by Free Radicals Cannot Be Repaired - Therefore, It’s Very Important to Prevent It!
Some types of free radical damage can be repaired, but once cell nucleus DNA or mitochondrial DNA is damaged, there is no possibility for repair. Because of such damage, we have been permanently degraded or “aged” or made less efficient. As cells become less efficient, even more free radicals are produced during energy production and the aging or dying process accelerates. So, obviously having mitochondrial antioxidants on hand to stand guard against the overwhelming numbers of mitochondrial free radicals being produced is a highest priority.
When Free Radicals Gain the Upper Hand in the Mitochondria, One’s Energy Drops Significantly
In order to save the mitochondria from irreparable damage, when the mitochondria sense a buildup of free radicals within the mitochondria, they will reduce the energy production of the mitochondria (which reduces the coincident production of free radicals). In a low energy mode, no more free radicals are created inside the mitochondria, but the energy being produced in low energy mode is only about 1/4th of normal needs and will not be enough to even handle normal activities, and so ONE FEELS LIKE RESTING OR SLEEPING. This, more often than not, is the true cause of tiredness in the latter part of the day. Sleep will give the body’s antioxidants time to catch up the chore of neutralizing free radicals. Having a high ratio of antioxidants compared to free radicals in the mitochondria is why we start the morning with energy and why our energy dwindles, as free radical levels escalate as we go through the day.
The best antidote to energy loss in the mitochondria is to ensure that we have plenty antioxidants standing by to neutralize free radicals.
Most antioxidants are not capable of working within the mitochondria because they cannot get inside. (The mitochondria are guarded and protected by two layers of lipid membranes.) The antioxidants that are allowed inside the mitochondria are referred to, hereafter, as mitochondrial antioxidants. They are:
- Superoxide Dismutase
- Coenzyme Q10
Without any doubt, mitochondrial antioxidants are the antioxidants that the body most needs in order to have any hope of keeping up with the quintillions of free radicals being produced.
Superoxide Dismutase (S.O.D.) is the mitochondria’s first line of defense against superoxide anion free radicals. It is the fastest acting antioxidant, which is why it is able to function as the prime defense against rapidly created Superoxide Anion free radicals and why our bodies make Superoxide Dismutase, instead of relying on dietary antioxidants. To ensure optimum production of S.OD. we need to ensure consumption of good amounts of the minerals manganese, zinc and copper. Foods that are naturally high in these minerals include: spinach, mustard greens, chard, romaine lettuce, pineapple, raspberries, strawberries, sesame seeds, oats, brown rice (i.e. RiSoTriene) and green beans.
In addition to our cells manufacturing their own S.O.D., it is possible to get Superoxide dismutase from food, but, unfortunately both cooking and digesting (stomach acids) destroy S.O.D. Your best bet food sources are Canteloupes and Wheat Grass. These need to be consumed on an empty stomach to minimize stomach acid production, which would otherwise destroy the S.O.D.
The very best ways to increase levels of Superoxide Dismutase in the body are to consume the following supplements:
- Superoxide Dismutase Enteric Coated Supplements
- Mineral supplements of copper, zinc and manganese
CoEnzyme Q10 is not only a mitochondrial antioxidant, but it’s presence in the mitochondria is essential to the production of energy (this discovery received a Nobel Prize in 1961). It’s presence creates a proton gradiant in the mitochondria, allowing for the transferring of electrons (reduction/oxidation) resuling in ATP creation. It functions as an antioxidant because of its ability to loosely hold electrons and giving them up as needed to quench free radicals. It functions in both the mitochondria and cell membranes as an antioxidant, and is ABSOLUTELY VITAL to life. Statin drugs block CoEnzyme Q10 production. Consumption of foods containing certain precursors increase production of CoEnzyme Q10. These precursors include: Methionine and Tyrosine, best obained from meat, fish and poultry and Phosphatidylcholine, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Vitamin B complexes and seleneium.
It is also possible to directly increase CoEnzyme Q10 levels in the body with supplementation. There are numerous CoEnzyme Q10 supplements on the market. Any of these are useful.
Glutathione is sometimes called the master antioxidant of the body because of its ablity to detoxify the body of toxins that create free radicals (such as mercury or pesticides) and its ability to resurrect antioxidants that have been inactivated from previous free radical contact.
Glutathione cannot be increased by consuming it directly in supplements or food because stomach acids destroy it. Therefore one needs to eat the many precursors of glutathione so that the cells are enabled to make glutathione ub greater quantities. Lack of these precursors limits glutathione creation. Glutathione precurors include sulfur containing foods such as raw eggs, garlic, unprocessed meats, undenatured whey protein. Also, asparagus, broccoli, avocado, spinach, curcumin (turmeric) and the mineral seleneium increase glutathione production.
Supplements, however, are particulary effective. In particular we recommend MaxGXL or MaxOne from Max International. These product have been verified to increase intracellular glutathione by up to 400%. To learn more about Max Products click here.
Catalase is the most powerful of all mitochondrial antioxidants. It is like a tank in the battle against free radicals. Lowered levels of Catalase correlate to faster aging. Catalase is found in and can be obtained by eating most raw foods (cooking destroys it). Some great food sources include: sprouts, carrots, sweet potatoes, onions, leeks, parsnips, spinach, kale, watercress, radish, cucumbers, cherries, red cabbage, apricots, kiwi, watermelon, pineapple, peaches, sour apples and Indian gooseberry.