Ancient Remedy Solves Modern Energy Crisis
Mitochondria and AgingIt would be impossible to overstate the importance mitochondria play in overall health and longevity. Mitochondria are cellular generators responsible for producing the body’s primary source of energy, called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP provides at least 95% of the cellular energy that powers all living functions, from muscle contractions to hormone production, and everything in between. Unfortunately, mitochondria function less and less efficiently as we age, causing a ripple effect of health consequences throughout the entire body. Less available energy means organs and tissues function less efficiently. This makes mitochondrial dysfunction especially damaging for the heart and brain, since they have the highest energy demands in the body. It should come as no surprise, then, that mitochondrial dysfunction has been linked to numerous degenerative illnesses, ranging from diabetes to neurological disorders to heart failure. The high energy output of mitochondria makes them highly vulnerable to oxidative damage. Evidence strongly indicates that over time, accumulated damage to the DNA of the mitochondria leads directly to metabolic disorders (such as diabetes) and degenerative disorders (such as Alzheimer’s). Ultimately, the downstream effects caused by mitochondrial dysfunction speed aging and death. The scientific evidence on this point is so strong that a growing number of cell biologists believe that the number and functionality of the mitochondria can specifically determine an individual’s longevity. The good news is that it’s not only possible to slow this cellular aging process but reverse it. The key lies in a nutrient you’re already familiar with: coenzyme Q10.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Mitochondria and Aging
- Our bodies face an energy crisis as we age because our mitochondria begin to succumb to the ravages of high chemical and electrical stresses.
- Aging mitochondria and low output of the energy-carrying molecule ATP are associated with accelerated aging of the brain, heart, and other organs.
- Mitochondrial aging can be slowed, and their energy production restored, by administration of nutrients that smooth the flow of energy down the mitochondrial electron transport chain.
- Shilajit, an ancient remedy sourced from minerals and organic substances from the Himalayas, contains compounds that shuttle electrons along that chain, reducing the damage to mitochondria to preserve their function.
- Studies show that shilajit administration boosts ATP production, reduces mitochondrial damage, and protects heart and brain from age-associated energy loss.
- When combined with CoQ10, shilajit may prove to be the ideal mitochondrial nutrient combination, and should be used in combination to optimally enhance your energy supply and protect your organs.
CoQ10 and MitochondriaCoQ10 is already well-known for its ability to protect cells from damage, and for its remarkable effects against common heart ailments and neurological disorders. What you might not know is that CoQ10 is absolutely essential for normal mitochondrial function (namely, the production and transfer of energy). Studies have found that when cells or organisms are deficient in CoQ10, it results in increased mitochondrial oxidative stress and accelerated aging. Supplementation with the right form of CoQ10 has been shown to slow aging in the animal model and extend life span. One study showed that rats supplemented with CoQ10 experience an 11.7% increase in average life span.40 In human terms, based on today’s life expectancy of 78.8 years, this translates to a more than nine-year increase in life span. The surge of available energy made possible by CoQ10 is especially beneficial for the heart. Studies have found that CoQ10 supplementation improves cardiac systolic function and ejection fraction.42,43 Another study showed that when combined with selenium, CoQ10 slashed the death rate from cardiovascular disease by more than half!44 The science is so strong that one of the study authors proclaimed CoQ10 to be a “scientific breakthrough in the management of chronic heart failure. CoQ10 has two primary ways of protecting mitochondria from age-related decay and death. First, it plays an essential role in the electron transport chain, facilitating the efficient transfer of electrons into ATP.46 Second, it acts as a powerful scavenger of free radicals, neutralizing their lethal action and dramatically reducing oxidative damage. As a result, CoQ10 offers a powerful way to help slow, or even reverse, a natural aging process by restoringyouthful mitochondrial protection against free radicals. There’s just one problem. CoQ10 can quickly become depleted in the body because it donates its own electrons in order to neutralize the flood of free radicals. That makes ensuring the body’s continued supply of CoQ10 critical. And that’s why there continues to be so much excitement about shilajit. While practically unheard of in modern medicine, this ancient Ayurvedic adaptogen has been found to stabilize, revitalize, and preserveCoQ10 in its active (ubiquinol) form, boosting the levels of CoQ10 that are critical for protection against mitochondrial aging. When used along with CoQ10, the combination produces benefits above and beyond what each nutrient offers individually, providing a powerful synergistic effect that boosts energy, protects mitochondria, and reduces aging at the cellular level. As you’re about to read, one particular breakthrough study demonstrates this perfectly.
AGE-RELATED DECLINE IN COENZYME Q10 TISSUE LEVELS
|Tissue Affected||% Decrease of CoQ10|
|Heart muscle wall||72%70|
Powerful Duo Produces Dramatic ResultsA team of researchers published a compelling study showing how shilajit plus CoQ10 preserves and protects energy function.10 The researchers engaged mice in strenuous and stressful physical activity for two hours each day for seven days. Subjecting laboratory animals to obligatory exercise is one of the most direct ways to study energy balance. In a forced swim test, the animals swim to a state of exhaustion, and their blood is drawn both before and after exercise to measure energy markers. In unsupplemented animals, the expected outcome is a reduction in ATP, as mitochondria reach their maximum ability to produce it. For this study, the animals were divided into groups that either received no supplements, CoQ10 alone, shilajit alone, or a combination of both shilajit and CoQ10.10 After subjecting the mice to the forced swim test, the researchers measured the ATP content in muscle, brain, and blood. The unsupplemented group showed significant reductions in ATP content of muscle, brain, and blood. This was expected, since the exercise demanded ATP for energy, which was eventually exhausted as mitochondria failed to keep up. Remarkably, all three supplemented groups maintained higher levels of ATP in muscle, brain, and blood. Individually, both shilajit and CoQ10 by themselves produced significant elevations of ATP compared with the unsupplemented animals. But the key discovery was that the combination of these two nutrients had a synergistic effect, producing greater ATP recovery than seen with either nutrient alone. In fact, in the brain and blood, the shilajit/CoQ10 combination brought ATP levels back nearly to those of un-exercised control animals! As an added benefit, supplementation with shilajit prevented significant drops in CoQ10 levels in the blood of exercised mice. Ultimately, the synergistic effects of shilajit plus CoQ10 offer an unparalleled option to protect mitochondrial DNA and combat aging. In a similar experiment, mice were induced to develop chronic fatigue syndrome by undergoing daily forced swimming for 21 days, and then subjected to a series of stress tests that evaluated their mobility and anxiety levels.50Shilajit was administered prior to the induction of chronic fatigue syndrome in some of the animals. The results of this study showed that unsupplemented animals experienced prolonged immobility, decreased climbing behaviors, and increased anxiety. Supplemented mice did not demonstrate these deleterious changes. The supplemented animals also showed no signs of the chronic fatigue syndrome-induced mitochondrial oxidative stress seen in control animals. This study provides further demonstration of shilajit’s energy-boosting capabilities, and hints at the exciting neuro-behavioral effects seen in other studies.
Why Such Dramatic Results?The answer lies in components found in shilajit that work synergistically with CoQ10 such as fulvic acid and related humic substances. Fulvic acid stimulates mitochondrial energy transfer and makes mitochondrial extraction of energy more efficient,51 while humic substances speed the transfer of electrons along the electron transport chain, enhancing its efficiency. Ultimately, these actions give shilajit properties similar to a fuel supplement for a car engine: They make the entire energy-production apparatus run more efficiently, with fewer waste products and destructive effects. This keeps mitochondria in a youthful, more potent condition that allows them to deliver cleaner energy, in larger amounts, and with less wear and tear. This powerfully opposes the age-promoting effects of mitochondrial burnout. Shilajit’s energy-boosting, mitochondrial-protecting capabilities translate into meaningful results in animal studies of two of the body’s biggest energy-consumers: the brain and heart.
THE CELLULAR “BUCKET BRIGADE”
Shilajit and the Aging BrainOne devastating consequence of mitochondrial aging and loss of ATP production is deterioration of the central nervous system function. In fact, poor mitochondrial energy production is considered both a cause and a consequence of memory loss and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.56-58 A growing body of evidence shows that shilajit has the potential to reverse many of these neurological changes. Numerous studies have shown that shilajit fights Alzheimer’s on multiple fronts. First, the neurotransmitter acetylcholine is known to be deficient in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Acetylcholine is a brain chemical that is important for memory and attention. It is believed that maintaining healthy acetylcholine could help prevent the worsening of Alzheimer’s symptoms. That’s where shilajit comes in: It helps produce a beneficialincrease in acetylcholine in the brain by reducing levels of an enzyme that breaks it down.59 Another hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease is the buildup of abnormal proteins called tau (within brain cells) andbeta-amyloid (outside of cells), which appear to induce neuronal dysfunction and early cell death. Inhibiting these abnormal protein deposits is a promising target of Alzheimer’s drug therapy, though no drug has yet emerged that effectively reduces such aggregates.60,61 But shilajit has succeeded where drugs have failed: Lab studies demonstrate that one of the principal substances in shilajit (fulvic acid) inhibits the buildup of dangerous tau proteins. It even goes one step beyond that. In an exciting discovery, shilajit was found to significantly untangle filaments of the offending protein, an apparent reversal of the progression of Alzhiemer’s!60,61 Shilajit exerts beneficial effects on Parkinson’s disease by increasing levels of essential neurotransmitters (brain signaling molecules) such as dopamine, which is reduced in Parkinson’s. In addition, an early study on rats in mazes showed that shilajit significantly improved performance and reduced anxiety levels.
ENERGY AVAILABILITY IN FORCED-SWIM MICE10
|Treatment Group||ATP in Muscle (µmol/g)||ATP in Brain(µmol/g)||ATP in Blood(mmol/L)|
|Swim + shilajit||0.49||0.21||0.59|
|Swim + CoQ10||0.48||0.20||0.57|
|Swim + shilajit + CoQ10||0.61||0.28||0.62|