CoEnzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a compound, made by our bodies, that plays a variety of roles. One such role includes it acting as a powerful antioxidant that slows the aging process. It is used by EVERY cell. CoQ10 is part of the electron transport chain and aids in producing adenosine triphosphate(ATP), which, in short, is energy.
There is a growing body of evidence linking low levels of CoQ10 to several conditions including heart conditions, Parkinson’s disease, statin induced myopathy, migraines and performance issues. What we don’t understand, clearly, is if these conditions are caused by low levels of the enzyme or if they, themselves, are at the root of the deficiency.
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Benefits of CoQ10
Research is ongoing to better understand the potential of CoQ10 supplementation. As of now, it looks promising that elevating levels of CoQ10, in the body, may produce the following positive impacts. In some cases, conclusive studies already exist. See the reference section Research & Expert Opinions, below, for more detail.
- Powerful antioxidant. Oxidation & free radical are the natural by-products of various biochemical processes that take place within the body. When this “waste’ is not removed effectively, it causes damage contributing to the aging process. CoQ10 has many jobs with one very important one being to offset this free radical damage. Low levels of CoQ10 impede the bodies ability to remove oxidation and heal properly. Cumulative damage has been linked directly to age related conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc.
- May lower blood pressure. In reviewing 12 clinical studies, researchers found that CoQ10 has the potential to lower systolic blood pressure by up to 17 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 10 mm Hg, without significant side effects. Larger scale research is needed, before a final recommendation can be made, however.
- Aids in controlling blood sugar through the management of insulin sensitivity. Preliminary studies found that CoQ10 improves blood sugar control. But other studies show no effect, so the jury is still out. Stay tuned!
- Increases energy and performance by helping cells make energy (ATP) using both fats and carbs as a fuel source. When your mitochondria (cell power houses) are damaged and sick, energy production slows. It is my belief that our energy level correlates directly with the overall health and well-being of our cell mitochondria.
- May improve cholesterol. High cholesterol and low levels of CoQ10 seems to go hand in hand, although there is a lack of direct evidence linking the the two. More research is needed. There is some evidence that supplementing with CoQ10 can help offset the effects of statin drugs which include further reducing CoQ10 levels as well as associated muscle pain. More and more doctors are, now, recommending a CoQ10 supplement be used with statins.
- Reduce migraine frequency. Poor mitochondria function can lead to increased free radical production and calcium absorption while lowering antioxidant shields. This lowers cell energy which has been linked to migraine headaches.
- Protects cognitive function by helping to keep our mitochondria healthy! The brain is very susceptible to free radical damage. Ensuring that our bodies have appropriate levels of CoQ10 available will help offset the damage, thereby acting as a protectant!
- Could improve fertility in men. Evidence shows that CoQ10 improves both semen quality and count. We can assume that will, also, improve overall chances of conception but no studies are concluded proving that, directly.
Enjoy this short video by Thomas DeLauer, a well known celebrity and health advocate explaining what CoQ10 is and how it benefits our health!
How to get CoQ10 naturally
It is, generally, seen as a good practice to seek out and consume foods that provide CoQ10 supplementation. Having said that, most experts agree that it is very tough to replenish CoQ10 stores with food alone. Being aware of food sources that provide access to this powerful antioxidant is the first step, however, to maintaining your health and to some extent, youth!
You can find fairly high levels of the enzyme in the following.
- Organ meats (liver, kidney & heart)
- Grass-fed Beef
There are, also, several food sources containing low to moderate levels of CoQ10, including:
- Cage free chicken
- Legumes (i.e.peanuts and soybeans)
- Rainbow Trout
- Sesame seeds
- Pistachios nuts
How and when to Supplement CoQ10
There are several conditions that make supplementing with a CoQ10 source, ideal, but first you should understand it’s basic forms. An estimated 90% of the CoQ10 found in our blood is in the form of ubiquinol, the most bioavailable of the two. It makes sense that supplementation of this antioxidant, also, be in the form of ubiquinol.
It is recommended to use a CoQ10 supplement under the following conditions.
- You are over 35. Age typically decreases CoQ10 production.
- You are found to have nutritional deficiencies, especially vitamin B6.
- You have a genetic defects impacting how CoQ10 is made and used.
- You have experienced mitochondrial dysfunction and/or have a mitochondrial disease.
- You are taking a statin drug.
Generally, people supplement with 30-500mg per day, usually starting with 200mg. If you are taking a statin, which lowers your CoQ10 stores, you may need a higher dose to counteract the effects of the drug. ** Please consult your doctor when considering supplementing your medical treatment.
If you are under 35 and generally healthy but want to supplement CoQ10, you can likely get away with a less bioavailable version of it. I really like Doctor’s Best brand because of their focus on balancing quality and value.
For those of us on the other side of 35, it’s harder to reduce the supplement down into the usable, ubiquinol form so it is better to buy an already reduced version. For that reason, I recommend the popular Qunol brand.
A final point of note when supplementing CoQ10. Because it is fat soluble you will get a better absorption rate if you take it with food, preferably fatty food.
As always, I strongly encourage you to conduct your own research into the benefits of supplements and other natural treatments. I believe, wholeheartedly, that an educated consumer is a smart consumer.
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Take care and, as always, stay healthy!
P.S. If you are interested in understanding about how diet & nutrition impacts, both, your mental and physical health, read my article Improve focus, boost mood and lose weight through Diet & Nutrition.
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*Remember to check with a healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, including the introduction of supplements.
**These claims have not be evaluated by the Food and Drug Association.