When you think about minerals and how they are needed by your body, you might think about electrolytes, bones, and muscles. Others may think about minerals for sleep, thyroid and adrenal glands and even red blood cells. Minerals are necessary for numerous aspects of your health with structure and function including your mighty mitochondria.
Mitochondria research experts like Dr. Bruce Ames and others who have followed in his footsteps have spent the last two decades researching mitochondria and nutrition. His pioneering work has provided amazing insights and credibility into the essential need for nutrients and mitochondrial function. Minerals and vitamins are required for mitochondria function as without them “mitochondria decay” occurs and metabolism falters.
What Are Mitochondria?
Mitochondria are the center of cellular energy production, as they manufacture ATP or energy. Mitochondria are also directly involved with immune system vitality, thyroid and adrenal gland function, and much more. All tissues, except red blood cells, contain mitochondria.
Mitochondria require numerous types of nutrients like antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals for their function. In mitochondria and mineral research, scientists identified that “mitochondria actively manage, buffer, utilize, and route the minerals in order to maintain homeostatic balance and minimize stress levels throughout the cell.” A lack of even one mineral leads to accelerated mitochondrial decay,1 cell stress, metabolic dysfunction, neurodegeneration, and faster aging.
As mitochondrial decay occurs, numerous changes are seen and felt in your body. Changes occur in:
• mental energy and outlook
• cognitive function
• exercise and physical energy
• balance, movement, vision, hearing
• immune system vitality and resiliency
• sleep and circadian rhythms
• melatonin production
• lung function
• joints and cartilage
• gut motility and digestion
• blood sugar and insulin metabolism
• liver and detoxification
• kidney function
• adrenal and thyroid function
• heart health,
Every tissue and organ in your body is affected on some level by a decline in mitochondrial function.
Minerals and Mitochondria
Here are some recent findings on mitochondrial function and these minerals: sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium. Research on other trace minerals and mitochondria is limited or may not be known.
Sodium plays extremely important roles of fluid management outside and inside cells. It has a shared relationship with potassium. This balance between sodium and potassium is required to maintain cellular homeostasis. Sodium also works with calcium to transport protons for mitochondrial membrane potential. This is essential for the electrical energy charges and activity within mitochondria.
Vast amounts of research and campaigns have pointed to sodium or high salt diets as a villain to health. The Daily Recommended Value for adults is 2,300 mg per day of sodium. Medical organization and professionals recommended even lower amounts of 1,500 mg or less of sodium per day. One-quarter teaspoon provides 500 mg of sodium. Yet, many studies have shown that a low salt diet can be associated with higher all-cause mortality.
Mitochondria require sodium for electrical activity and energy production, thus it is important to have mineral-rich Himalayan or Celtic Sea Salt as part of your diet. Avoid refined, processed table salt as that lacks the natural minerals found in sea salt. Work with your health care professional if you are salt sensitive or have severe kidney problems.
Potassium works in a reciprocal relationship with sodium to balance fluid movement in and out of cells. It is critical for cell pH, mitochondrial membrane polarity and charge, and management of oxidative stress. Potassium is required for mitochondria inside your nerves, muscles, and heart affecting heart rate, rhythm, mental and physical energy, coordination, and more.
The Western diet is high in sodium and low in potassium, which stresses mitochondrial function. It is important to balance these two minerals. The Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) for potassium in healthy adults is 4,700 mg/day. A diet low in fruits, vegetables, dairy, and meat, or other restrictive diets limits your potassium intake. Many blood pressure and diuretics/water pills also affect potassium levels.
More information about potassium may be found in the articles:
Potassium – A Valuable Mineral for Health
Potassium Balances Salt Intake
Calcium is the most abundant metal mineral in your body. Only 1 percent of calcium is found in your blood stream and cellular fluids where it is tightly controlled. It is primarily stored in your bones, teeth, and other tissues.
Calcium plays a “critical role in mitochondrial physiology”. It is required by enzymes in the Kreb’s cycle to make energy or ATP synthesis. It is also required by the electron transport chain and cellular voltage.
Calcium and sodium work together to engage energy production and cellular charge. It is paired with magnesium and potassium to buffer the oxidative stress effects from the work of calcium and sodium. The RDI for calcium in adults is 1,300 mg/day.
More information about calcium may be found at:
Calcium – Are You Getting Enough?
Calcium: The Ultimate Guide to Supplementing Wisely
Magnesium is the second most abundant mineral in the cell. At least 1/3 of the magnesium content inside of cells is attached to membranes within the mitochondria. It binds onto hundreds of enzymes essential for mitochondrial and cellular function. Several magnesium dependent enzymes are used by the TCA/Kreb’s cycle to make energy.
Insufficient magnesium leads to a drop in mitochondrial energy production, increases free radical stress, and interferes with the mitochondrial membrane potential. This results in fatigue, an acid pH, and a breakdown in healthy metabolism. The RDI for magnesium in adults is 420 mg/day.
More information about magnesium may be found at
Magnesium: A Notable Mineral Essential for Life
Insufficient Magnesium – Public Health Crisis Declared
Magnesium Depleted by Numerous Drugs
Iron is a trace mineral. It works together with zinc and copper. Throughout your body, iron is necessary for sensing levels of oxygen and oxygen transport, energy production, immune activity, hormone production, and many other entities. Iron is needed for energy production and the electron transport chain of the mitochondria.
Up to 50 percent of iron inside of cells is found inside mitochondria which is essential for the production of heme, the precursor to hemoglobin. Heme needs iron to bind onto oxygen. Even though mitochondria are not present in red blood cells, the interaction with iron and mitochondria is essential for tissue oxygenation and metabolism. The RDI for iron in adults is 18 mg per day.
More information about iron may be found at:
Important Things to Know About Iron Deficiency
Low Iron Linked with Muscle Health, Sleep, Mood, and Mitochondria
Zinc is also highly used by mitochondria for many enzymes and different steps within the electron transport chain to produce energy. It protects against oxidative stress as it is essential for the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD).
Zinc is required for the sense of smell, memory, nerves, growth and development, immune function, vision, fertility and reproduction, bones, gut health, DNA synthesis, cell membrane integrity, and more. Zinc must be balanced with copper and iron. The RDI for zinc in adults is 11 mg/day.
More information may be found in the articles:
Zinc Essential for Immunity, Sense of Smell, and More
Zinc: Do You Need More?
Copper, another trace mineral, is also found inside mitochondria. Copper is required for mitochondrial copper proteins and enzymes. It is involved with neurotransmitter production, myelin sheath formation, connective tissue strength and formation, heart function, and energy production. Copper affects iron levels and its function. Copper must also be balanced with zinc and iron. The RDI for copper in adults is 0.9 mg/day.
More information may be found in the article Taking Zinc? Balance It With Copper!
Manganese is a trace mineral needed by the mitochondria in very small amounts. Mitochondria use manganese for several enzymes and pathways used in carbohydrate metabolism. It is used as an antioxidant for the SOD antioxidant pathway used in many tissues, especially cartilage and joints. A sufficient trace amount of manganese is required for thyroid function. The RDI for manganese in adults is 2.3 mg/day.
More information may be found at:
Mitochondria and Osteoarthritis: An Exciting New Frontier
Help Keep Your Thyroid Nourished
Selenium, a trace mineral, is necessary for the birth of new mitochondria. Selenium binds onto proteins to make selenoproteins inside mitochondria function. Selenoproteins regulate several mechanisms in mitochondria, thyroid hormone function, and calcium homeostasis. Selenium protects against toxic free radicals and supports glutathione, the master antioxidant enzyme system and antioxidants.
Your thyroid gland contains the highest concentration of selenium in the body. Selenium is necessary as an antioxidant for the thyroid gland and hormone function. The RDI for selenium in adults is 55 mcg/day.
Mineral Deficiencies and Imbalances are Common
Mineral deficiencies are common especially in the Western diet or in other populations with dietary inadequacies. Fast food/Western diets lack potassium. Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency in the world affecting as many as 2 billion people. At least 25 percent of women of reproductive age consume less than half of the RDA for iron. Insufficient magnesium has been declared a public health crisis. Zinc and copper imbalances are often overlooked.
In addition to dietary insufficiencies, Monsanto’s Roundup with glyphosate or other glyphosate brands have been shown to ultimately affect availability of these minerals in the food supply and/or damage mitochondria. More information may be found in the article GMOs, Roundup, and Sunscreen Linked with Diminished Brain Resiliency.
RDI values do not address the need that occurs when nutrient reserves in your body are insufficient. Gene SNPs or variations, gut inflammation and intestinal permeability, insufficient stomach acid or pancreatic enzymes, numerous medications, injury, illness, athletics, poor repair and chronic inflammation, and high stress, etc increase your nutritional needs more than the RDI.
Mitochondria are also highly sensitive to excess or imbalanced intake of nutrients. For example, high intake of zinc can deplete copper. Calcium needs to be balanced with magnesium. Excess iron provokes oxidative stress. Mitochondria need a balance of nutrients.
Many organizations and experts have attempted to find a perfect diet the meets all of the RDI/RDA values. There are none. A whole foods diet with wide variety is still the best choice overall.
Provide supplemental support in your weak areas. We offer several choices of highly absorbable minerals balanced together with other nutrients. These include Daily Bone Xcel, Daily Builder, Daily Protector, Coral Calcium, Tri-Cal, Calcium AEP, Muscle Mag, RelaxaMag, Potassium Plus, Strengthener Plus, and Activator Plus. Feed your mighty mitochondria well today and every day to avoid accelerated mitochondrial decay!