Although all the antioxidants could help counter the disease, the most effective seem to be vitamin E and N-acetylcysteine (NAC), say researchers from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. They are most likely to reduce the many symptoms of the disease—which can include muscle weakness, visual and hearing problems, heart, liver and kidney diseases, and gastrointestinal disorders—and help the sufferer live longer.
The researchers tested seven antioxidants on laboratory zebrafish, and results were more mixed with coenzyme Q10—often used to help treat mitochondrial disease—vitamin C, lipoate and orotate.
The most successful supplements were able to reduce oxidative stress, an imbalance between the immune system's production of free radicals and its ability to cope with them, a common characteristic of mitochondrial disease.
Sufferers often turn to vitamins as a way to help them cope with the disease, but without really knowing the best ones to take, the researchers say—and so their research provides the first evidence of those that could help the most.