Mitochondria: The Key to Longevity?

Michael A. Smith, MD

The mitochondria are known as the cell’s powerhouses, generating energy for all of the important cellular functions.

Sugars and oxygen inside the mitochondria are processed and, through a series of reactions, synthesize adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

ATP is then distributed throughout the cell to run all of the chemical reactions. Without it, the cell cannot function and will die.

Mitochondrial longevity has a direct impact on overall longevity. As such, we'll dig into the types of nutrients that best support your mitochondria below.

Protect your Mitochondria

Everything has a “flip side.” Oxygen and glucose are necessary for the production of ATP. However, oxygen creates oxidative stress and glucose causes glycation. The result is extensive mitochondrial damage.

The following nutrients protect mitochondria against the damaging effects of oxidative stress and glycation:

  • Lipoic Acid
  • Pomegranate
  • Pyridoxal 5'- Phosphate
  • Carnosine
  • Benfotiamine

Enhance your Mitochondria

Enhancers directly impact the production of ATP. These nutrients are also called “energy co-factors” and help sustain cell energy cycles inside mitochondria. Life Extension® suggests the following three nutrients to ramp-up ATP production:

  • Ubiquinol CoQ10
  • L-Carnitine
  • D-Ribose

Generate new Mitochondria 

Generating new mitochondria traditionally could only occur with strenuous exercise and extreme calorie restriction…until now! An essential nutrient discovered in the 1970’s called PQQ, or pyrroloquinoline quinone, plays a critical role across a range of basic life functions.

As an ultra potent antioxidant, it provides extraordinary defense against mitochondrial decay: PQQ’s chemical structure enables it to withstand exposure to oxidation up to 5,000 times greater than vitamin C.1

But the most exciting revelation on PQQ emerged early in 2010, when researchers found it not only protected mitochondria from oxidative damage—it also stimulated growth of new mitochondria!2

PQQ has been shown to be a potent growth factor in plants, bacteria, and higher organisms. Pre-clinical studies reveal that when deprived of dietary PQQ, animals exhibit stunted growth, compromised immunity, impaired reproductive capability, and most importantly, fewer mitochondria in their tissue.3

When PQQ is introduced back into the diet, it reverses these effects, restoring systemic function while simultaneously increasing mitochondrial number and energy efficiency.Taking between 10-20mg/day of PQQ may help to generate new mitochondria and round out a nutritional strategy for supporting mitochondria.


  1. Altern Med Rev. 2009 Sep;14(3):268-77.
  2. J Biol Chem. 2010 Jan 1;285:142-52.
  3. Life Extension Magazine® Super Sale 2010/2011.
  4. J Nutr. 2000 Apr;130(4):719-27.


brain supplements said...

I find taking between 10-20mg/day of PQQ helps

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised manganese was left out of the article considering its required for MnSOD (SOD-2) and without that your mitochondria just doesn't work. There have been studies of MnSOD knock-out mice and they didn't even surive to birth. So proper levels of manganese which isn't common in SAD is very important.

I had myself tested and I had below range level of manganese which might explain my high hs-crp as well.

Anonymous said...

Where do you get PQQ

Life Extension said...

Anonymous - At supplement stores!

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