Medical / Dietary Needs

What you need to know

Medical Needs:

  • Challenges to maintain health in people with mitochondrial disorder
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle weakness
    • Dysmotility
    • Dysphagia (inability to swallow)
    • Nausea/Vomiting
    • Ataxia
    • Reflux
    • Temperature control
      • Cold stress: Exposure to cold can result in severe heat loss and trigger an energy crisis
      • Heat stress: Especially in those individuals who can’t sweat normally
    • Avoid toxins
      • Cigarettes
      • Drugs
      • Alcohol


Children with mitochondrial disorder need to have a diet with good nutrition to promote growth, development, and energy production. The diet should provide enough protein, vitamins and mineral, and hydration. It is extremely important to AVOID fasting.

  • Small frequent meals may be better than a typical 3-meal-a-day routine for some children.

What you can do

General guidelines:

  • A yearly check-up and studies as needed should occur in the child’s Medical Home. 
  • Be aware of any changes in behavior or mood that seem unusual and notify the parents.
  • It is important to be aware of any academic changes.  Contact parents when any differences are noticed.
  • Be aware, or ask parents, if the child has a medical alert bracelet.
  • School age children with may have multiple doctors and specialist visits to monitor medical conditions.
  • Dietary Guidelines     
    • 4-6 small meals
    • Include a complex carbohydrate and protein at each meal
    • Maintain healthy weight
    • Avoid fasting
    • Vitamins and mineral may help improve mitochondrial function
  • Temperature control 
    • Wear weather appropriate clothing
    • Avoid extreme cold and heat
    • Be aware of heat stroke and heat exhaustion
    • Consider air conditioning
    • Avoid exposure to illness