Last week, supermodel and celebrity dietician Maye Musk appeared at The Times Square Edition hotel in New York City, clad in a pomegranate-themed red and white outfit, for an event promoting Swiss life sciences company Amazentis’ new product, an anti-aging supplement called Mitopure, sold under the company’s Time-line Nutrition brand.
“I am a dietician, so whenever I get asked to endorse dietary supplements I always look at the science first. Time-line Nutrition is backed by 10 years of research and clinical
studies showing that it really works,” Musk told Observer across a table covered in sample packets of Time-line powder and promo pamphlets brimming with words that I would not recognize without referring to a science dictionary.
The secret ingredient of Time-line Nutrition’s Mitopure powder is its namesake proprietary compound. According to the company, Mitopure is a highly purified form of Urolithin A, a metabolic molecule naturally created by human gut bacteria after consuming pomegranate and certain nuts and berries. Urolithin A helps activate a cellular renewal process called mitophagy, which clears defective mitochondria in our cells to make room for healthy ones, according to two Amazentis-funded studies, published in Nature Medicine in 2016 and Nature Metabolism in 2019, respectively.
Let’s rewind to 10th grade biology class for a second: Mitochondria are tiny structures in our cells that regulate the supply of energy, or adenosine triphosphate (ATP), to body cells. The more mitochondria you have in your cells, the more ATP your body is able to produce. Therefore, mitochondrial health is vital to organ and muscle function.
“Mitochondria is like the power house to our cells. It produces all the ATP or energy to our cells,” explained Amazentis cofounder and CEO Chris Rinsch, who has a Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology and gene therapy from the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. “When they wear out, they need to be recycled. Otherwise our cells would die. There’s a constant renewal process in our cells.”
“Within the medical community, unless you are focused on regenerative or anti-aging medicine or the study of mitochondria, there is a lack of full understanding of mitophagy, other than it being defined as mitochondrial health,” said Dr. Jerry Bailey, a physician and certified nutritionist at Lakeside Holistic Health. “Mitochondrial health and longevity is a key pillar in functional medicine. Without our healthy and robust mitochondria, we can not grow, heal, recover, detoxify or be thriving in today’s world.”
As we age, our mitochondrial function declines. Those who exercise rigorously or restrict calorie intake tend to have better mitochondrial function in their cells. The same effect can be achieved with the help of Urolithin A. The problem, though, is that only 40 percent of people have the right gut bacteria to naturally produce beneficial levels of Urolithin A, according to a Amazentis-funded study that took place in Chicago and was published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (EJCN) in June.
“What you eat is important. But it’s not just what you eat, it’s how you process what you eat, which is kind of a complex story to tell,” Rinsch told Observer.
Mitopure aims to solve this problem by bypassing the complexities of microbiome in our digestive system and unlocking Urolithin A for everyone, including those without the right bacteria to produce it from diet. The study published in the EJCN this summer found that a daily intake of 500 milligrams of Mitopure delivers six times more Urolithin A than a glass of pomegranate juice—assuming you can naturally produce it.
Amazentis’ research so far has focused primarily on muscle health. A study by researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in collaboration with Amazentis published in the Science Translational Medicine in April found that Urolithin A helps induce mitophagy and restore muscle strength in mice with muscle dystrophy. The Swiss company recently completed a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial in healthy middle-aged participants that looks at the impact of Mitopure on mitochondrial function and muscle strength over four months.
“Urolithin A is slowly being looked at in the supplement industry as a booster of mitochondrial function,” Dr. Bailey told Observer. “It looks very promising as an adjunct to mitochondrial health and anti-aging medicine that can be added to a healthy lifestyle and a robust supplement regime.”
Urolithin A is recognized by the FDA as a safe ingredient under the agency’s GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) program. Time-line comes in the form of powder and softgels. The powder can be mixed into common breakfast items such as yogurt, smoothies and oatmeal.
“From the research, if I had to choose a glass of pomegranate juice or Mitopure, I would choose Mitopure as it is a faster way to add the health benefits of pomegranate to my daily routine,” Musk said.