Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Fibromyalgia
Updated: Sep 12
In November Edition of "Fibro Friday", we're talking Mitochondrial Dysfunction.
What is a mitochondria you ask?
Cells are the smallest structural and functional units that make up a living thing. This means that when comparing cells to the entire organism (Ex. The human body), cells must carry out similar processes that are necessary for survival (think eliminating wastes, energy production, etc). Cells contain organelles, which function like organ systems in our bodies. Each organelle has a specific function and is specialized to carry out that function for the cell.
The mitochondria are the organelles in the cell responsible for energy production. They house a number of different enzymes that convert the food we eat into ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate, the energy currency of our cells). To function properly, mitochondria need a number of different nutrients to make the enzymes involved and to carry out the reactions required for energy production. These nutrients include B vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, magnesium, Coenzyme Q10, and many others.
Different cells within our bodies have differing numbers of mitochondria, depending on the energy requirements of that cell type or tissue. Mitochondria tend to be more concentrated in the liver, kidney, muscle, and brain. For proper energy production, we require adequate numbers of mitochondria and proper functioning of the mitochondria themselves. Research has shown that in people with Fibromyalgia, cells have fewer mitochondria AND the mitochondria that are present don't function properly, compared to healthy controls. This may be due to a genetic abnormality, nutrient deficiencies, oxidative stress, or a combination of these factors. In light of these anatomical and physiological abnormalities, there is a biological basis for the muscle and brain symptoms that occur with Fibromyalgia.
Incorporating mitochondrial support into Fibromyalgia treatment has shown significant benefit in addressing the symptoms of Fibromyalgia, particularly with pain, brain fog, and sleep disturbances. There is a urine test available to help us determine where in the mitochondria problems are occurring (click here to read more about the Organic Acids Test). There are a number of ways to support the mitochondria naturally through diet, supplementation, and lifestyle changes. Some nutrients target different portions of the mitochondrial energy pathway, while others support the health and structure of the mitochondria themselves. Reducing overall inflammation levels and oxidative stress can also help promote proper functioning of these cellular powerhouses.
Stay tuned for more information on which nutrients are helpful in supporting healthy mitochondrial function in future posts!
If you have questions about how to incorporate mitochondrial support into your health plan, click here to obtain individualized advice.