Slow down ageing: Mitochondria supplement improved both strength and cognition in trials

Claire Lawson discusses ageing and menopause

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Researchers from the Baylor College of Medicine have been successfully able to slow the ageing process of mice using mitochondria supplements.

Mitochondria are organelles found in most cells and form part of the energy creation process.

As people age the mitochondria in cells degrade affecting the function of cells.

The new study has found by giving mice a mitochondria supplement they were able to delay the ageing process.

Speaking about the results Dr Rajagopal Sekhar, senior author the study, said: “Having investigated ageing for over 20 years, I am convinced that two fundamental defects contribute to the biological process of aging: [a] deficit of energy due to mitochondrial dysfunction, and an increase in oxidative stress, which harms mitochondria and other cellular components.”

The study found that by giving mice a supplement known as GlyNAC they were able to extend their lives by up to 24 percent.

The results of the study have been published in the journal Nutrients.

While mitochondria is prevalent in every cell of the body it can be a difficult element to understand.

Dr Sekhar explains the main role of mitochondria: “The mitochondria need oxygen to burn fat and sugar to make energy. Oxygen is provided to mitochondria by the combined action of the lungs, heart, blood, and the vascular system, and fat and sugar by the gut, liver, and pancreas working together.

“The ultimate goal of all these organs working together is to provide mitochondria with oxygen and fuel.”

Subsequently, Dr Sekhar describes mitochondria as the most important organ in the body that can’t be seen.

Even though the results of trials on mice have just been released, trials on humans have already begun.

Dr Sekhar said in their human pilot trials the mitochondria supplement “improved both strength and cognition…Normal ageing is associated with a decline in strength, exercise capacity, and gait speed”.

However, while these results are promising Sekhar says these are also dependent on having a healthy brain.

As a result, maintaining cognition is also key to stemming the ageing process.

One of the best ways to ease cognitive decline is through exercise.

Recent research found exercise improves brain glucose metabolism.

The higher the brain metabolises insulin, the more effectively the brain can function.

The NHS recommends a person engages in 150 minutes, or two and a half hours of exercise a week.

More information about exercise can be found on the NHS or on numerous websites dedicated to improving fitness.

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