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Why is DHA in the mitochondria?

 


The mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. It is where the chemical energy ATP is produced, which can then be used by cells to power all its reactions. We normally associate burning calories with strenuous physical exercise, like running or swimming. Here, our muscles are using large amounts of ATP to contract and cause motion. But the brain also requires a huge amount of ATP energy to function. Feel the top of your head right now. It's warm. That's a sign of calories burning! And when it gets cold outside, you wear a hat to help keep that warmth from convecting away

Fatty acids such as DHA are used by the mitochondria as a source of fuel to produce ATP. Normally, the simple sugar glucose is used. But an alternative source is a fatty acid like DHA. The mitochondria takes two carbon atoms at a time in a process called beta-oxidation, like chopping up a carrot into thin slices. It takes each of the slices and uses it to form ATP energy. Because DHA has twenty-two carbon atoms, it is an excellent source of stored energy, which the brain may utilize for its great energy requirement.


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