Tag Archives: Mitochondrial health

Mitochondrial Health–The Power House of Your Cells

Today’s post was written by  Iowa Cancer Specialist’s newest physician, Dr. Linda Jager. 

Just the title of this article might scare you off if you have nightmares from you 10th grade biology course where they taught you the parts of the cell. But don’t be afraid, this little
organelle of the cell is central to your health. Mitochondria also called the “power house” of
the cell are the part of the cell that makes your energy. They take oxygen and nutrients from
food and make energy. When mitochondria work well they help reduce fatigue, pain, and
memory problems while supporting muscles and burning excess fat.

Damaged mitochondria can result from eating foods that encourage generalized inflammation
and pain. Mitochondria are damaged by toxins in our environment.
If you were to look at a mitochondria under an electron microscope you would see that it looks
a little like a bacteria, it is bean shaped organelle made up of folded membranes, and it even
has its own DNA. You know how mom’s are always to blame for anything that goes wrong?
Well it may be right when you talk about your mitochondria. For it is from your mom that you inherit your mitochondria.

Mitochondria are in all cells, but cells that need a lot of energy like
muscles, including the heart, and nerves have largest concentrations of mitochondria. Mitochondria need certain things in the diet to stay healthy, since most of their structure is made up of cell membrane. Cell membranes are made up of fat. So to keep thier
power houses happy they need healthy fat.

Healthy Fat:
Is there such a thing as healthy fat? Yes there is!  In particular we need (DHA) Omega 3 fatty acids for healthy mitochondria.

Where can we find these? Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, cod and sardines.

Other healthy fats that are needed are medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). Coconut oil is a source of MCTs.

Avocados and advocated oil supply the body with heart healthy monounsaturated fats. The
remarkable avocado had 20 different minerals, vitamins and phytonutrients, and is natural

Extra virgin olive oil: high quality oil rich in polyphenols which are also antioxidants.

What do mitochondria like for fuel?
Ketones over carbohydrates. So a low carbohydrate diet is preferred..
Mitochondria like it when you don’t eat. Fasting and caloric restriction increase the number of
mitochondrial present. It can be as simple as 12 hrs between dinner and breakfast.

What are the essential Nutrients for energy production?
CoQ10 body can make it but decreased production after 50 yrs old and statins interfere with
production.  Alpha lipid acid and acetyl L Carnitine  B vitamins: Riboflavin, B1, B2, B3, niacin, Magnesium

What factors that damage Mitochondria?
Aging, toxic metals, Alcohol, persistent organic pollutants.


Dr. Jager has a diverse medical background in family medicine, wound care, emergency room care, pathology, functional and palliative care. She uses her experience in functional medicine with her patients at ICS.  Functional care is an individualized, science-based approach that addresses the root cause of disease.  It leverages the patient’s genetics, lifestyle, and biochemical components to personalize treatment plans including  lifestyle modifications, stress reduction, and dietary changes  to promote optimal wellness.