I’ve been fascinated by mitochondria since I discovered that scientists could trace your female lineage through your mitochondria. Mitochondria are passed down from woman to child with little input from the father. The sperm does have mitochondria when they set off on their mission, but the mitochondria self-destruct as soon as the sperm joins the egg.
This means that children can inherit an identical set of mitochondria from their mothers. There are few mutations and so scientists have been able to identify, people’s places of origin through their mitochondria.
Your mitochondria are present in vast numbers in all the cells of the body. They ensure that the body receives energy in a form that is easy to use. They do this by combining oxygen with glucose from your food. The result is ATP (the energy our bodies use) and carbon dioxide, which is then expelled.
As you can imagine, when mitochondria fail, you’re likely to feel lackluster and short of energy. There are also a number of autoimmune and metabolic diseases caused by malfunctioning mitochondria.
In recent years, these little powerhouses have been researched and studied to ascertain their role in aging and disease. The good news is that, like all other cells in the body, your mitochondria will benefit from exercise and a healthy diet.2