Declining quality and activity of mitochondria – often called the cells’ “batteries” – is associated with many age-related diseases and a wide range of processes that make us age faster.
Rejuvenating mitochondria can potentially add years to a person’s life.
To do just that, some researchers have developed a new mitochondrial antioxidant supplement, and a science journal has just published the results of the first human clinical trial to test its effectiveness. This is what they found. . .
Concentrates in the Mitochondria
A research team from the University of Colorado, Boulder first tested the supplement called MitoQ on mice in 2014.
Old mice, the equivalent of humans aged 70 – 80, were given MitoQ. After four weeks their arteries functioned like those of mice the human equivalent of 25 to 35.
A member of the research team, Rachel Gioscia-Ryan, explained how this happened:
“One of the hallmarks of primary aging is endothelium [cells that line the blood vessels] dysfunction, MitoQ completely restored endothelial function in the old mice. They looked like young mice.”
One function of the endothelium is to help blood vessels dilate as needed. Nitric oxide is required for this, but the amount produced is reduced by superoxides (free radicals) and what is produced is increasingly destroyed by them.
The mitochondria create superoxides even in young people. They’re a by-product of producing energy. But they’re kept in check by the body’s antioxidant systems.
In older people, mitochondria are a major source of superoxides, overwhelming the body’s attempts to mop them up. MitoQ is able to concentrate in and protect the mitochondria from this onslaught of oxidative stress.
Arteries Expand by 42%
The mouse study was a good sign, but a human study was needed to confirm the results. This has now been published in the journal Hypertension in June.
Twelve healthy men and women aged from 60 to 79 randomly received either 20 mg of MitoQ a day or placebo for six weeks. Then after two weeks of taking nothing, the groups were switched and the study was continued for another six weeks.
This resulted in a 42% improvement in arterial dilation following the period of MitoQ supplementation — an improvement which would, if sustained, lower the risk of heart disease by 13%. The supplement also induced a significant improvement in arterial flexibility and sharply lower levels of oxidized LDL “bad” cholesterol – an indicator of free radical damage.
The researchers said the participants’ blood vessels looked like those of people who are 15 to 20 years younger, at least by the dilation measure. The improved dilation was shown to occur through a lowering of oxidative stress.
MitoQ is a new creation, a specially adapted form of CoQ10 that can penetrate cell membranes to restore and reenergize mitochondria, and counter the damage caused by free radicals.
According to the researchers, more common antioxidants like vitamins C and E have not been very effective. Lead author Doug Seals says, “This study breathes new life into the discredited theory that supplementing the diet with antioxidants can improve health.
“It suggests that targeting a specific source – mitochondria – may be a better way to reduce oxidative stress and improve cardiovascular health with aging.”
I don’t know that other antioxidants have been “discredited” as Mr. Seals suggests, but it does seem this new one is exceptionally effective.