The cause(s) of Long Hauler symptoms is not known at this time. However, there is a growing body of research linking the virus and long-hauler symptoms to mitochondria dysfunction of the thymus.
In our series on the 5 Pillars of the Immune System we coved the role the thymus plays in the innate and adaptive immune system.
This article explores causes of mitochondria dysfunction and how taking carotenoid supplements can improve mitochondria health.
What are mitochondria?
Our mitochondria are responsible for providing the energy for cells to operate in a process called oxidative phosphorylation (“Oxphos”) used by all animals. (Plants use photosynthesis to make energy).
Where are mitochondria found in our bodies?
In virtually all cells. However the distribution of mitochondria is not uniform. The heart and muscles have much higher mitochondria concentrations, as do our lungs, thymus , liver and brains.
All long-haulers have been all diagnosed with COVID, subsequently tested COVID free but have lingering symptoms such as fatigue and brain fogginess- both tissue types with high mitochondria/cell concentrations. Coincidence?
What is Mitochondrial Dysfunction?
Mitochondrial dysfunction describes the case where the oxphos process is not operating at peak efficiency.
What Causes Mitochondrial Dysfunction?
The oxphos process produces by-products called reactive oxygen species (ROS).
ROS are used as a signaling molecule but if excess ROS is made, then this surplus is destructive, diminishing energy production, depleting micronutrients and attacking/causing mutations of the mitochondria and cell DNA.
When we are facing sustained stress, the mitochondria get stressed and fall off operating a peak efficiency. This in turn makes MORE ROS which if left unmitigated cause more destruction and a vicious downward spin.
Emotional (e.g. child abuse, war), physical (too hot/cold, malnutrition, excessive sugar, viral infections) and environmental (exposure to toxins such as drugs, nicotine, pollution and alcohol) all take a toll on us over time. Hence why seniors have more mitochondrial dysfunction and are at increased risk of COVID19 infection and mortality.
What Mitigates Mitochondria Dysfunction?
Antioxidants... but antioxidants are not created equal.
Mild antioxidants include lycopene (the red in tomatoes) β-carotene (the "orange" in carrots). vitamin C & E, zinc, selenium, iron, magnesium and molecules such as CoQ-10 and arachidonic acid. Go online and you will find nutraceutical companies extolling the antioxidant properties of these compounds.
All of these compounds participate in vital metabolic pathways. Vitamin C, for example, is required for collagen/skeleton/bone formation and iron is used to transport oxygen.
Carotenoids- The Olympic Class of Antioxidants
Plants/algae by far dominate the biomass on earth and can make all of these antioxidants. However, for animals to cope with mitochondria, the animal kingdom had to develop antioxidants strong enough to handle the surplus ROS that arises from the oxphos process.
Arthropods (aka bugs) were the first animal to figure this out. Bug make more powerful antioxidants called carotenoids from the lycopenes and β-carotenes they ate.
Carotenoids created the conditions for the great Cambrian explosion. For the first time multicell animals could protect themselves from mitochondrial dysfunction.
Carotenoids protected the other antioxidants from ROS liberating them to be used elsewhere. Carotenoids migrated into the eyes to protect them from light/ UV damage and enabled different species to develop specialized tissue types that benefited from high concentrations of mitochondria inside.
Bugs proliferated everywhere and were so prolific that that no other animals needed to bother to make carotenoids. We just ate bugs or ate animals that ate bugs.
Unfortunately, as humans centralized animal production, we replaced bugs with corn and soybean feeds. As these animals got sick, we loaded them up with antibiotics, vaccines and growth hormones to keep them alive and big enough to sell.
Astaxanthin: The Gold Medal Winner.
Canthaxanthin, zeaxanthin, and astaxanthin are the three medal winners
in the antioxidant race, with astaxanthin taking the gold as the most powerful carotenoid.
Making astaxanthin supplements highly bioavailable is not easy.
We have tested many commercial suppliers of “natural astaxanthin” in fish and found 99%+ of what goes in, goes out the other end. Sad but true.
The natural astaxanthin in Adjuvia Gel Caps and Immune System Booster is processed at low temperature to avoid denaturing the molecule. We nano-size it to easily pass through the digestive tract and surround it with algae derived lipids to help carry the compound through the bloodstream into the cell and mitochondria membranes where it become most active.
Adjuvia is the best antioxidant supplement that we know and is highly effective at mitigating the causes of mitochondria dysfunction.