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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What is the function of mitochondria?

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    The Australian Mitochondrial Disease Foundation (AMDF) was founded in 2009 with three goals in mind:- To fund research into mitochondrial disease- To support sufferers of … View Profile

    Our body is made up of cells with each one adapted or specialised for the organ it is part of. All cells have the same basic structure, a bit like each house has the same basic structure (roof, doors, windows, walls, etc…) but the cells belonging to each organ look different like each house has a unique style or design. Each cell in its own right is a complex thing. It has a central command centre called the “nucleus”  which is surrounded by a fluid called “cytoplasm”… an egg yolk surrounded by egg white. However, the cytoplasm is itself far from boring and within it there are many different structures of which one of them are the mitochondria.  All these structures and the nucleus keep the cell running happily but they all need energy to do their job. The energy source they use is called “ATP”. The mitochondia's job is to take in the energy sources from our diet like sugar, fats and carbohydrates and turn them into ATP. This is a bit like a refinery turning crude oil into pure petrol. So the mitochondria are often called the batteries of the cells, but a more accurate term might be a “powerhouse”, a “generator”, or a “refinery”.

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