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Mitochondria are bounded by a double membrane. Each of these membranes is a phospholipid bilayer with embedded proteins.

The outermost membrane is smooth while the inner membrane has many folds. These folds are called cristae. The folds enhance the "productivity" of cellular respiration by increasing the available surface area.

Within the inner mitochondrial membrane are a series of protein complexes and electron carrier molecules, which form the electron transport chain ETC. The ETC represents the third stage of aerobic cellular respiration and the stage where the vast majority of ATP molecules are generated. ATP is the body's main source of energy and is used by cells to perform important functions, such as muscle contraction and cell division.

Mitochondrion - Wikipedia

The double membranes divide the mitochondrion into two distinct parts: the intermembrane space and the mitochondrial matrix. The intermembrane space is the narrow space between the outer membrane and the inner membrane, while the mitochondrial matrix is the area that is completely enclosed by the innermost membrane. Several of the steps in cellular respiration, including the Citric Acid Cycle and oxidative phosphorylation occur in the matrix due to its high concentration of enzymes. Mitochondria are semi-autonomous in that they are only partially dependent on the cell to replicate and grow.

A marine parasite’s mitochondria lack DNA but still churn out energy

They have their own DNA, ribosomes, make their own proteins, and have some control over their reproduction. Similar to bacteria, mitochondria have circular DNA and replicate by a reproductive process called binary fission. Prior to replication, mitochondria merge together in a process called fusion. Fusion is needed in order to maintain stability as, without it, mitochondria will get smaller as they divide.


These smaller mitochondria are not able to produce sufficient amounts of energy needed for proper cell function. Share Flipboard Email. If the mitochondrial wall is damaged, this machinery can be exposed to free radical damage. This causes wear and tear and can lead to less energy being produced. To make matters worse, if the mitochondrial wall is compromised, some free radicals can leak into the cell and damage the delicate equipment within it.

The good news is that mitochondria are clever: they stack themselves with a naturally-produced antioxidant called CoQ10 and use it to line the mitochondrial walls with a defensive barrier. This helps to neutralize the destructive free radicals and minimizes any negative impact on energy production, as well as potential damage to the cells. For some time, scientists have recognized the link between mitochondrial function and our health.

As we age, the level of CoQ10 produced inside our mitochondria declines. When the level of CoQ10 declines to a point where it cannot counteract the damaging effects of free radicals, it places our cells in a state of oxidative stress. In fact, it is now recognized that when mitochondria are unable to function at their best, this can be a significant cause of many serious health conditions; in the developed world, this includes seven of the top ten most costly to human life. It has become increasingly evident that our overall health and well-being and even how fast we age, are closely related to how well our mitochondria are performing.

So mitochondrial dysfunction is something to very much guard against. Although mitochondria were discovered over years ago, scientists have only recently begun to decipher the many essential tasks performed by these impressive and invaluable organelles. In addition to energy production and cell protection, scientists now know that mitochondria are more than just the powerhouse of the cell.


They are vital for calcium regulation, cell specialization, DNA and RNA production, cell growth and cell regeneration. They send messages to the nucleus and other structures in the cell which modify cellular activities. The world is waking up to the importance of the mighty mitochondria; there is growing awareness of how critical they are for life - therefore, we need to look after them as much as possible. Therefore, taking a supplement that supports your mitochondrial performance is the very best strategy to help you maintain energy levels and support optimal well-being.

Littarru GP, Tiano. Bioenergetic and antioxidant properties of coenzyme Q recent developments.

What are mitochondria?

Mol Biotechnol. Cell powerhouses.

ATP & Respiration: Crash Course Biology #7

Oxidation-Reduction reactions.