Another Reason to Blame Your Mother…

Did you ever stop and think about how energy is actually made in your body? And, if there’s a flaw within that system the result would be a lack of energy, or chronic fatigue.

Energy gets made by a step-by-step process whereby the foods we eat (carbs, proteins, fats) go through a series of chemical reactions ultimately becoming converted into packets of energy called ATP.

This all takes place in the mitochondria (pronounced ‘my-toe-con-dree-uh’). That word – mitochondria – may or may not sound familiar to you. Let me give you a quick biology lessen (I promise not to bore you!).

Your body is made of millions of cells. Just like your body has organs, so do your cells. There are tiny organs inside each and every cell in your body. One of these tiny organs is the mitochondria.

Think of the mitochondria as little power plants.

The one and only job of the mitochondria is to make energy…pure energy…to power everything in your body.

This energy is what fuels your body to do everything that it does – walking… talking… thinking… breathing… digesting – including the healing and repair mechanisms of your body.

Now, the chemistry behind how the mitochondria actually makes this energy is way too boring to tell you about…(but, if you’re a super nerd like I am you can open any biology book or do an internet search for citric acid cycle (aka: Krebs’s cycle) and electron transport chain) …but I WILL tell you that it requires specific nutrients.

The nutrients required for proper energy production are:

  • magnesium,
  • phosphorus,
  • thiamin (B1),
  • riboflavin (B2),
  • niacin (B3),
  • pantothenic acid (B5),
  • lipoic acid,
  • manganese,
  • biotin,
  • iron,
  • sulfur,
  • coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10),
  • copper, and
  • vitamin C

A deficiency in one or more of these key nutrients will put a wrench into the whole system of energy production.

This is medically termed Dysfunctional Mitochondria, or Mitochondrial Insufficiency.

Here is an interesting thing about your mitochondria…

You inherit your mitochondria directly and ONLY from your mother. (Zero come from your father.) Mitochondria are always passed from mother to her children. So, you may have dysfunctional mitochondria if your health problem tends to run on your mother’s side of the family.

Example #1- Chronic Headaches

I have a patient that suffered with chronic headaches.

(Yes, headaches, especially migraines, can be caused by dysfunctional mitochondria)

She had headaches. Her brothers and sisters all had headaches. Her mother had headaches. Even her grandmother (her mother’s mother – not her father’s mother) had headaches.

That’s a pretty strong argument for dysfunctional mitochondria causing her headaches.

Example #2 – Weird & Unexplained Symptoms

I have a male patient in his 30’s with many, many weird symptoms (including chronic fatigue) that nobody has been able to figure out. He has seen multiple specialists…has been testing up the wazoo…and all his tests are normal…so his doctors think it’s ‘all in his head’.

I’ll admit, his is a really tough case to figure out. But, when I interviewed him, he mentioned that his mother suffers from fibromyalgia. (A big underlying cause of fibromyalgia is dysfunctional mitochondria.) And, he feels extremely tired even after a small amount of exercise. (Another BIG clue for dysfunctional mitochondria)

Since he inherited his mitochondria from his mom it’s possible that all his weird symptoms and his chronic fatigue may be due to dysfunctional mitochondria. I’ve recently started him on mitochondrial supportive nutrients on a trial basis. I’m excited to see how he reacts to them.

Symptoms of Dysfunctional Mitochondria

You may have dysfunctional mitochondria especially if you notice:

  • You don’t have a strong constitution and tend to be sickly;
  • You take a long time to heal, even minor cuts/bruises;
  • You have an excessive amount of fatigue or pain after normal amounts, or even very little amounts, of exercise;
  • You still feel tired after a long night’s sleep;
  • You feel pain after chiropractic/massage/physio treatment;
  • You generally just have not responded to other treatments for your fatigue.

Like I said earlier, you should also suspect dysfunctional mitochondria especially if your mother’s health was poor.

Testing Your Mitochondria

The best way to test for dysfunctional mitochondria is a muscle biopsy, but this just isn’t practical in everyday medical practice, plus it hurts – really bad!

So the next best way to test is with an Organic Acids Test.

This is a simple urine test that measures a variety of metabolites, or by-products, in the urine – including the by-products of your energy production pathways. Too much of one metabolite, or too little of another, can signal mitochondrial dysfunction. There are many labs that offer an organic acids urine test.

Another test that can be helpful is the Comprehensive Nutritional Panel by Spectracell Labs.

With this simple blood test your lymphocytes (a specific type of your white blood cells) are evaluated and literally cracked open to measure the nutrient levels inside them. In this sense you can see how well the nutrients are getting to the deepest parts of your body and absorbed into the cells. This panel assesses 34 vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants.

If a deficiency or insufficiency is found in any of the core mitochondrial nutrients (as listed above) you can bet that you also have mitochondrial dysfunction causing your fatigue.

Treating Your Mitochondria

Key nutrients that can help nourish your mitochondria include all of the nutrients listed above plus:

  • acetyl-l-carnitine,
  • ribose, and
  • DHA.

Also, intermittent fasting and exercise can be helpful.

Make a promise to yourself starting today:

Stop feeling lousy…rotten…awful…crummy…miserable…terrible…crappy.

Find a good Functional Medicine doctor to help you get to the root cause of your health problems.

Like I always say:

Find the cause.

Fix the cause.

Feel normal again!


Dr. Carri Drzyzga, DC, ND – The Functional Medicine Doc

Find the Cause. Fix the Cause. Feel Normal Again!

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