The Extensive Benefits of CoQ10
From birth, the body starts to produce CoQ10. When young, levels are high because the body knows it is a valuable antioxidant that serves growth and energy production. As we get older, the production of this critical antioxidant declines and we do not get its protective benefits. Common signs that CoQ10 is low include wrinkled skin, poor energy levels, cardiovascular problems, and vision problems.
When the body needs to fight against aging free radicals, antioxidants are needed to support this process (1, 2). CoQ10 is one of these antioxidants that works to protect our cells including in the heart, pancreas, liver, and kidneys. It is interesting that in addition to our own cells, this Co-enzyme is also found in animals, plants, and bacteria. It must be important!
Importance of CoQ10
It is important to know that Co-enzyme Q10 is directly associated with many diseases and low levels of it in our body may cause unwanted illnesses. Considering its importance, it is vital to support the body’s ability to make this critical nutrient. This become even more important when you realize that the body does not store large amounts of CoQ10 and that it must be synthesized continuously.
There are very important functions in the body which are supported by Q10. The most important is generating energy inside of our cells. It protects our cells as an antioxidant and keeps them safe from oxidative damage. Many cosmetic companies attempt to capitalize on this effect by adding it to makeup and other skin products. The intention is to protect skin cells from oxidative damage and therefore keep them young and looking a certain way.
Signs of Low CoQ10
The most common diseases that can occur if we don’t have enough CoQ10 include:
Mitochondrial diseases (3)
Vitamin deficiency, such as vitamin B6
Excessive Oxidative Stress
Systemic Inflammatory Conditions
…and just about any chronic disease
Many studies have been performed, but it is yet to be agreed upon whether or not healthy people would benefit from supplementation with CoQ10. Most people, if they are healthy, can produce it in their own cells with proper nutrition and lifestyle strategies. However, those with chronic diseases may have an increased need.
Best Dietary Sources
The body is able to produce its own CoQ10 as-needed, however during times of increased stress, this ability may be diminished. This is when consuming CoQ10-rich foods can be very helpful.
Q10 is a powerful antioxidant and naturally, we can find it in some specific foods, like meat. If we want to help ourselves in the aging process, we might consider the following meat as our choice next time we decide to eat:
- Pasture-Raised Chicken or Beef
- Heart, Kidney or Liver
- Fish – The best is to use oily, fatty fish. Your choice can be mackerel, trout, sardines, wild Alaskan salmon, tuna or herring
- Dairy Including: Pasture-Raised Butter & Egg Yolks
In case, you are not so happy to have meat on your table, there are other foods that can also serve as a source of this valuable nutrient:
- Fruit – Be careful with too much sugary fruit as excess sugar intake is a source of blood sugar imbalances and drainage of CoQ10. The top fruits for CoQ10 include: Avocados, Black Currants, Strawberries, Grapefruits, and Apples
- Vegetables – Broccoli, Natto, Sweet Potato, and Cauliflower
- Nuts and seeds – Pistachios, Walnuts, Sesame Seeds, and Hazelnuts
- Oils – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
In addition to eating the right foods, supplementing with CoQ10 may provide some benefits as well. CoQ10 is readily available in most health food stores and supplement shops, however not all are created equal. Pharmaceutical Grade is typically what I would recommend, such as this one here.
CoQ10 is a well-known supplement and can sometimes also go by the following names: Coenzyme Q10, CQ10, ubidecarenone, and ubiquinone. There is also a new form of CoQ10 that is referred to as Pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) that some claim to be more effective.
When you want to order Q10, it is good to know there are different forms including tablets, hard and soft shell capsules, and liquids such as oral sprays. There is not a generally agreed upon form that is superior.
CoQ10 is fat-soluble, so if you use a supplement it will be important to consume with a fat source. Additionally, for added antioxidant benefits, consume with antioxidant-rich foods like vegetables, herbs, and spices as evidence suggests that antioxidants provide synergistic benefits.
Generally speaking, CoQ10 supplementation is likely not necessary under the age of 18. Dosages range from 30-1000 mg daily, however this is highly variable toward the individual. Some sources suggest that supplementing in the evening is best, however this may be something to test out for yourself.
Health Conditions Associated with Co-Enzyme Q10
As we said at the beginning of this article, medical references are important when we speak about dietary supplements, almost in the same relation as when we speak about real medications. That is why we would like to mention some expert opinions about specific conditions that are connected to CoQ10. These references are mentioned on the list by Mayo Clinic and their professional staff. According to the evidence-based data, these conditions are as follows (4, 5):
- Heart conditions – CoQ10 helps to mitigate the effects of increased LDL cholesterol, likely due to its antioxidant effects. In this way, CoQ10 might make a good base for heart disease prevention.
- Physical performance can be directly influenced by low levels of Co-enzyme in our cells because it is involved with ATP production. Low CoQ10 could slow ATP production and decrease energy output to muscle cells, inhibiting physical performance
- Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases linked to mitochondrial health may be influenced by Coenzyme Q10 levels.
- Migraines – it is not so clear how, but if we take a look at new results of research, higher dose of Q10 may prevent this intolerable pain
- Statin-induced side effects – Supplementing this antioxidant alongside statin treatment may provide a safety guard against many statin-induced side-effects.
There are also some medical references from the University of Maryland medical center that are desirable to mention because, from them, we can also find out how using Co-enzyme Q10 can help in some other medical conditions (6):
- Taking within 3 days after suffering a heart attack and continuing daily may help avoid subsequent heart attacks and reduce chest pain.
- Q10 alone or along with other medications may be used in order to help prevent heart failure. Considering the mitochondrial density in the heart, having adequate amounts of this nutrient are necessary to keep it healthy.
- May help to support optimal cholesterol levels alone or in combination with statins.
- Blood Sugar control may be improved with supplementation although more research is needed to confirm this benefit.
- Supplementing during chemotherapy treatment may help improve outcomes by mitigating excessive oxidative stress and protecting the heart from damage.
- Heart surgery outcomes may be improved with supplementation.
- Periodontal disease, known also as gum disease can be influenced by a lack of Q10
As always, not all scientific literature agrees. However, there are additional benefits that may be notable of mentioning.
- Some preliminary evidence suggests that CoQ10 may improve fertility in both males and females.
- May improve immune function and therefore build resilience toward a number of different immune threats such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
- There are some indications that people who suffer from angina might get better life through improved exercise ability thanks to the Co-enzyme
- As has been mentioned, it is common to add Coenzyme Q10 to beauty and cosmetic products where it may provide an anti-aging effect against wrinkles.
What Depletes CoQ10?
The official data of University of Maryland Medical Center strictly define some drugs that can deplete Co-enzyme Q10. If you are currently using any of the following medications, it may be advantageous to also add a supplement to your health regimen (7):
- Different types of Tricyclic antidepressants, shortly known as TCAs include: Amitriptyline, Clomipramine, or Protriptyline
- Antidiabetic medications where Sulfonylureas drugs are the most important to note include: Chlorpropamide or Tolazamide
- Cardiovascular medications such as Alpha2-adrenergic agonists like Clonidine, and Beta-blockers such as Atenolol, Bisoprolol and other similar medications. Vasodilators such as Hydralazine are also part of this group.
- Among the medications for lowering cholesterol, it is important to mention fabric acid derivatives where Gemfibrozil is the main representative, together with Statins, or HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors like Atorvastatin, Cerivastatin, Lovastatin, and similar
- Different Thiazide diuretics such as Indapamide or Metolazone
- Psychotherapeutic medications also deplete CoQ10, these include Phenothiazine derivatives where Fluphenazine and Promazine are the representatives, or Thioxanthene derivatives, such as Thiothixene
This is only a partial list so if you are using any kind of medication, do your research to find out if what you are taking regularly could be hampering your antioxidant defense systems.
Considering the amount of preliminary evidence available and obvious importance of CoQ10 within the body, ongoing research will be needed to guide future recommendations on supplementation. The National center for complementary and integrative health is planning on guiding future research on the following (8, 9):
- How Q10 effects muscle pain in people who are using statin therapy
- The possible influence on breast cancer alone and along with conventional treatments
- Fertility, particularly in older women
There are current developments for people who suffer from neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s disease for example. Preliminary studies at Cornell University in the U.S. have shown promising results, however ongoing research is necessary (10).
As with all supplements or medications, there is the potential to experience side effects. It is helpful to understand what these might be before beginning a supplement protocol so they can be preemptively monitored for. If you notice any negative effects while supplementing, you will want to stop taking it until they subside.
Medicine Net, a website run and edited by a team of doctors states that CoQ10 only offers the potential of a few minor side effects (11). One of the most common side effects appears to be digestive upset, however this can be easily avoided by lowering and splitting your dose throughout the day.
While side effects are not common, and are typically minor, monitor for the following:
- Digestive upset including diarrhea, nausea, rashes, headache, fatigue, dizziness, trigger allergies and even heartburn.
- Decreasing of blood sugar levels, which may cause problems for people with diabetes
- Lower blood pressure, that can be dangerous for those who already suffer from it and have regular therapy
- May not be safe for young children and pregnant or nursing mothers
- One should be careful if taking thyroid medications or blood thinners together with Q10 because there are possible interactions
- Always look up any potential interactions that CoQ10 may have with any medications you are currently taking
- Loss of appetite is one additional possible side effect, as well as light sensitivity and irritability
CoQ10 is an antioxidant found in many different living organisms and is absolutely vital for health. As a mitochondrial-support nutrient, this makes it a broadly applicable to many different health conditions. Considering mitochondrial dysfunction is at the root of most chronic diseases today, taking steps to support them is a good idea.
Consequently, an expanding body of evidence is eluding to a wide-range of benefits of having enough of this antioxidant in your body. Additionally, side effects are relatively rare and mild in nature.
While this nutrient can be derived in small amounts from food sources, using a pharmaceutical grade supplement, such as this one, can be a great way to boost overall health and performance on a daily basis.