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Mitochondria are microscopic organisms with their own DNA system which settled into us in the process of human evolution. They are part of the organelles in the cytoplasm of every cell with the exception of erythrocytes and the cells of the white muscle fibers. The synergism (mutually beneficial existence) between people and mitochondria is a prerequisite for us to be alive. Figure 5.


Figure 5. Internal structure of mitochondria

But exactly how are mitochondria useful? They are the power plants of our body. For its ongoing (every second) energetic needs our body uses biochemical energy in the form of the compound Adenosine TriPhosphate (ATP) which is produced by mitochondria. In the absence of ATP it is impossible to be performed even a single enzymatic reaction. Accordingly, the metabolism within us will stop. Mitochondria themselves are using about 60% of their own production of ATP as the raw material which they convert for its preparation is glucose (sugar). After a number of chemical reactions (Krebs cycle) it reaches into the mitochondria in the form of the substance NAD - Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (this has absolutely nothing to do with nicotine in cigarettes!) which during the process of oxidative phosphorylation produces and sends hydrogen ions into the intramembranous space of mitochondria. These ions are inserted by proton pumps back into the matrix of mitochondria and there the substance ADP (Adenosine DiPhosphate) is converted into ATP.

The chemical compound "NAD" is actually obtained from its precursor - Niacin or as is known also - Vitamin B3. Niacin is administered in the form of a nutritional supplement for people suffering from fatigue and chronic tiredness in order to be provided a greater resource for mitochondria as well as in the treatment of hypercholesterolemia and pellagra.

Protect your mitochondria! What does that mean? These little creatures are born and die into us every 7 to 14 days. Like our bodies their also suffer from diseases but these diseases are causes by ourselves - when we do not move enough, when we do not eat properly, when we smoke and drink spirits, mitochondria shrink in volume several times and thus becomes reduced their biologically active surface providing energy. In an unhealthy lifestyle mitochondria die from mutations occurring in their DNA.

The size of mitochondria increases in physical activity and they work better but their number can be increased only in cold weather when the body synthesizes brown adipocyte (fat) tissue. Namely the brown colour is due to the pigmentation caused by mitochondria.

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