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Supplements That Strengthen Your Mitochondria, Says Science

Take care of your mitochondria, and your mitochondria will take care of you.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Mitochondria are organelles known as the "powerhouses of the cell", converting food into energy the body can use and producing adenosine triphosphate (ATP), essentially molecular fuel for the rest of the cell. "Proper mitochondrial functioning is crucial for every nucleated cell in a body," says Kim Crawford, MD. "Some cells have more mitochondria than others. Your brain, muscles, and heart cells are full of mitochondria. Putting diseases and aging to the side: you want your mitochondria working at full strength to keep your energy levels up, your brain sharp, and your muscles and heart at their peak performance. The creation of new mitochondria (mitochondrial biogenesis) is needed for optimal aging which we now call our healthspan." Here are five supplements scientifically proven to strengthen your mitochondria. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss Already Had COVID? These Symptoms May "Never Go Away".

1

Urolithin A

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Urolithin A is a metabolite of the gut microbiome shown to encourage mitophagy, a process where the body recycles old mitochondria. "Mitochondria are like batteries that power the cells in your body," says David Marcinek, professor of radiology at the University of Washington School of Medicine. "But over time, they break down. The process of mitophagy recognizes this failure and proactively tears down the mitochondria, reducing it to elemental components that a cell can reuse. But with aging, mitophagy becomes less efficient and your body accumulates this pool of failing mitochondria. It's one way that muscles become less functional as we age."

2

Alpha-lipoic Acid (ALA)

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"ALA is a potent fat and water-soluble antioxidant vitamin," says Dr. Crawford. "It is also a metal chelator (helping to remove iron, copper, mercury, and other heavy metals). It is also a fairly decent anti-inflammatory supplement. Clinically, α-lipoic acid has been used mostly to help treat complications associated with diabetes such as neuropathies and vascular (blood vessel)  complications. It also improves cognitive (brain) and mitochondrial function, adding to the evidence linking oxidative damage to mitochondria and cognition."

3

NAD+

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NAD+, or nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, is a crucial coenzyme that naturally depletes as we age. "In the case of NAD+, it helps specifically with our mitochondria, the energy centers of our cells that are responsible for converting the nutrients we eat into fuel that our body can use to help us move, think, eat, and do the things we want to do!" says Dr. Will Cole. "Beyond the mitochondria, NAD+ does a lot of things, but one important activity is helping sirtuins, a type of protein that helps regular cellular health, aging, and metabolism."

4

Coenzyme Q10

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Coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant that plays an important role in mitochondrial function and the production of ATP. "CoQ10 is in virtually all cells in the body," says Devon Peart, MHSc, BASc, RD. "It's mostly concentrated in the mitochondria, or the 'powerhouse' of the cell. That means it's involved in energy production and powers biochemical reactions."

5

Niacin (Vitamin B3)

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Niacin has been shown to support mitochondrial health by helping boost NAD+ levels. "One study found that people with forms of early-onset Parkinson's disease may benefit from boosting niacin in their diet," says Ann Shippy, MD. "Niacin is one of the nutrients that helps replenish unhealthy mitochondria." And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more