Mitochondria and energy: Here’s what you need to know about the cell’s powerhouse and Cistanche tubulosa extract.
What’s the Connection Between Mitochondria and Energy?
Cells play many fundamental roles in our bodies, from growth, development, motion, and “housekeeping.” Cells require energy to carry out these functions. Wondering from where our cells derive this energy? Well, cells are unable to generate energy without a source. Therefore, cells seek energy from sunlight and food molecules. Plant cells and photosynthetic prokaryotes harness energy from sunlight to produce organic food molecules from which human cells derive their energy.
Mitochondria are commonly regarded as the cell’s powerhouse. In a nutshell, mitochondria are small organelles that are essential to producing energy for cells in the body. Some cells have only one large mitochondrion, while other cells have thousands. (In fact, the human body averages about 2,000 mitochondria per cell.)
Mitochondria exist in certain cells of every eukaryotic animal. At the most basic level, these organelles are responsible for converting sugar and air into energy. In this way, they convert glucose into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the essential molecule for transporting energy in the body.
The most fundamental role of mitochondria is taking up energy from the foods we consume and converting it into energy that our cells use. There is more to mitochondria beyond what you might have read before. Mitochondria are found in all human cells and help to generate a larger percentage of ATP energy for the cells.
Before we dig deeper into energy production, it will help if we look at the structure of the mitochondria first.
Structure of Mitochondria
Mitochondria are usually small in size, ranging between 0.75-3 micrometers. These structures are invisible with a clear eye or even under the microscope unless stained. All miniature organs found inside the cells are referred to as organelles. Mitochondria are different from other organelles in that they are covered with two membranes (e.g., inner membrane and outer membrane, which play different roles). Besides, mitochondria have different compartments that play unique roles.
These are the major parts of a mitochondrion:
- Outer Membrane: It acts as home to a range of enzymes and consists of porins that serve as channels that allow proteins to pass through.
- Intermembrane Space: It lies between the inner membrane and the outer membrane.
- Inner Membrane: It is impermeable to many molecules and houses a range of proteins. This is where a larger percentage of ATP energy is created.
- Cristae: They appear like folds of the inner membrane. They provide a wide surface area for chemical reactions.
- Matrix: This space between the inner membrane consists of hundreds of enzymes that are essential in the production of ATP. The matrix also houses mitochondrial DNA.
Now, let’s shift our focus to mitochondria and energy.
Mitochondria in Producing Energy
As mentioned, ATP refers to a complex organic chemical usually found in all life forms which helps to power metabolic processes. A larger percentage of ATP is manufactured in the mitochondria through a cycle that involves a variety of reactions. This cycle is termed as Krebs Cycle or the citric acid cycle.
ATP energy is often produced in the cristae. Mitochondria usually convert the chemical energy derived from the foods we consume into energy that is taken up by cells for use. The process of converting this chemical energy into cell energy is referred to as oxidative phosphorylation. In the Krebs Cycle, the NADH produced is taken up by enzymes and converted into ATP. ATP molecules store energy.
Cistanche tubulosa Extract
Cistanche tubulosa (Rou Cong Rong) enhances cognitive abilities such as learning and memory as well as optimizes mitochondrial health. Consumption of Cistanche extract has shown marked improvement in cell respiration, anti-aging, and anti-inflammatory effects in mitochondria. Cistanche also helps maintain healthy metabolic function. It is often used to help prevent fatigue and increase energy.
Having read all about mitochondria and energy, it also helps to note that there are three processes of ATP production (e.g., oxidative phosphorylation, tricarboxylic acid cycle, and glycolysis). Besides glycolysis, the other processes occur in the mitochondria.
Cistanche has gained popularity worldwide because of its medicinal benefits. Linden Botanicals sells Cistanche extract in small 100 gram sizes as OOMPH energy support and in larger sizes of 200 to 1,000 grams. The tea offers medicinal benefits and serves as a great alternative for people who do not prefer caffeinated tea.