Harvard Health Advertising Observation: Mitochondria do a lot for you-what can you do for them? -Harvard Health Blog


Have you ever seen an advertisement for a product that sounds great and want to know that it is really that good? This happened to me recently. “How do you take care of mitochondria?” the announcer asked. Well, there is one question I don’t ask every day. This is my answer.

Your cells are aging: can supplements keep them young?

The ad and the accompanying website describe their product in this way:

  • “Breakthrough range of nutrition solutions”
  • Supplement “in harmony with the body’s natural processes to rewrite the rules of cellular aging”
  • “Help activate the renewal of muscle mitochondria”
  • “For the age-related changes that occur in the cell”
  • “Renew the natural ability of cells to produce daily energy”
  • “Featured with cellular nutrients, this nutrient has been studied in more than 20 human clinical trials”

And what is this miracle product? It’s food! just kidding. These statements come from NestlĂ© Health Sciences’ Celltrient supplement advertisement. Yes, supplements from the famous manufacturer of candy bars can improve your health and delay aging!

Hot discussion about mitochondria and cell health

These propositions focus on two main health areas that have been extensively researched at the cellular level in recent years: aging and energy production.

You may remember biology in middle school. Almost all human cells have a nucleus that contains our genetic blueprint (DNA). But do you know a lot about mitochondria? These so-called cellular power plants convert nutrients into energy. They are vital to the health of each cell and the health of the tissues and organs of the people in which these cells live.

If the mitochondria cannot work properly, it will make people weak and sometimes life-threatening, such as Mitochondrial myopathy with Multiple eye diseases.

A large number of studies in recent years have shown that mitochondria

  • Play a key role in the aging process and most age-related diseases
  • Essential to cell health, including regulating the way nutrients enter individual cells
  • Contains DNA that is easily damaged with age, is prone to mutation and has limited repair ability
  • Play a key role in immune function.

These findings have led people to speculate that treatments that maintain or improve the health of mitochondria and cells may lead to aging.

The ad is correct-the rest of the story

As mentioned above, mitochondria are essential for the important process of cellular energy production. There is increasing evidence that mitochondria are a key factor in the development of aging and chronic diseases.

However, the other claims made by Celltrient’s manufacturers should carry a lot of skepticism. There is very little evidence behind them. Like all over-the-counter drugs, unproven supplements and treatments, Celltrient comes with a disclaimer required by the FDA:”These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. “

What about the 20 human studies mentioned? Well, this refers to research on one or more of the ingredients found in these products, not on the products themselves. These studies cannot prove that the claims in the advertisements are true to humans.

For example, a study showed that a component in Celltrient called nicotinamide riboside-closely related to vitamin B3 -Absorbed by blood. In addition, it increases the blood level of a substance required for the normal functioning of mitochondria, which is called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD).

Sound impressive? Remember, if you already have enough vitamins in your body, taking certain vitamin supplements may be useless. Therefore, it is not clear from the research that Celltrient actually “renewed” or “replenished” mitochondria in the cells of study participants. More importantly, there is no evidence that these supplements can make people healthier or feel better, delay aging or provide any other specific health benefits.

Lack of considerable cost and key information

The promotion also didn’t mention the cost. Prices on the product website range from approximately US$60 to US$130 per month. There is no mention of possible side effects, interactions with other drugs or whether some people are more likely to benefit from them than others.

Finally, assuming you are worried about this, these ads will not tell you about other options for mitochondrial health.Such as regular Exercise may be the best treatment for mitochondrial aging.

Bottom line

Advertising such as Celltrient products is rampant. You will see supplements that promote heart health, joint pain, Memory loss, And many other conditions. Some people have more scientific support than others. But beware of advertisements for medicines or supplements, which can bring vague health benefits without actual proof that the product is effective. It is not enough to rely on the statement that there is no scientific basis, and to rely on scientific judgments alone.

Regarding cell and mitochondrial health, you can accept the unproven claims in these advertisements and spend thousands of dollars on Celltrient products every year. Perhaps future research can even prove the effects of these supplements. Or, you can use a more conventional source of nutrients that mitochondria require: food. I think I am not joking after all.

Follow me on twitter @RobShmerling



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