Mitochondria are biological structures that produce energy within cells. They act much like engines that produce energy within cars. Fuel (food) combines with oxygen, which combines with one or more catalysts (vitamins) within each cell to ignite energy production.
Lack of cell energy has been associated with conditions such as autism, chronic fatigue, diabetes, fibromyalgia, heart disease, hypothyroidism, multiple sclerosis and obesity. Drugs, environmental toxins and insulin resistance may trigger mitochondrial dysfunction, while thyroid hormones are known to enhance energy production in skeletal muscle cells.
Energy production is compromised in people with hypothyroidism. One study found evidence that elevated TSH (an indicator of low thyroid function) resulted in decreased energy production in 34 obese adolescents compared to 32 lean adolescents. Another study found mitochondrial dysfunction in blood cells obtained from persons with subclinical hypothyroidism (elevated TSH, normal T4 and minimal to no physical symptoms). The ratio of T4 to T3 thyroid hormones in these subjects was low when compared with normal subjects.
Vitamins, particularly thiamine (B1), minerals and other nutrients, like Coenzyme Q 10 and L-Carnitine, are also helpful for maintaining healthy energy-producing cells.