January 12, 2021 10 min read
Time to reach back to high school biology and repeat once again: the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. And you thought you’d never be able to use this tidbit of knowledge in the real world—well here we are.
Coenzyme Q10—also known as CoQ10, ubiquinone, vitamin Q10, and Q10—plays an important role when it comes to this powerhouse of the cell. As one of the most popular supplements on the market at the moment, CoQ10 plays an important role in several bodily functions and systems, making it an important micronutrient for your overall health and wellbeing.
It was in 1957 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison that Peter Mitchel highlighted the importance of CoQ10 for carrying energy to cells, for which he won the Nobel Prize in 1978.
Since then CoQ10 has proven to play numerous essential roles in the body, and it’s something that everyone should be acquainted with.
Supplement names that include both letters and numbers might sound like overkill, or at least too complicated. But while the digits might look scary, CoQ10 isn’t that difficult to get a basic handle on.
CoQ10 is a fat-soluble substance, meaning that your body is able to produce it and it’s best consumed along with food, with fatty food being particularly helpful. The term coenzyme means that CoQ10 is a compound that helps other compounds in your body do their job properly. Along with helping to break food down into energy, CoQ10 is also an antioxidant. This spells a laundry list of benefits in the health department, which we’ll take a closer look at further down below.
As we mentioned, this compound is produced naturally in your body, but the production starts waning as early as 20 years of age in some cases. Furthermore, CoQ10 is found in most tissues in your body but the highest concentrations are found in organs that necessitate a lot of energy, such as the pancreas, kidneys, liver, and heart. The least amount of CoQ10 is found in the lungs when it comes to organs.
Since this compound is such an integrated part of our bodies (literally being a compound found in every cell), its effects on the human body are far-ranging.
This compound exists in two different forms: ubiquinone and ubiquinol.
The latter (ubiquinol) is what’s mostly found in the body since it’s more bioavailable for your cells to use. This is especially important for the mitochondria since it aids in producing the energy we need day to day. Supplements tend to take the more bioavailable form, and they’re often made by fermenting sugar cane and beets with specific strains of yeast.
While deficiency isn’t all that common, it normally occurs from old age, certain diseases, genetics, nutritional deficiencies, or stress.
But while deficiency isn’t common, it’s still important to make sure that you’re staying on top of its intake due to all the benefits it can impart. In the spirit of 10, below is our list of 10 ways that CoQ10 supports your body’s wellness.
When it comes to CoQ10 supplementation benefits, heart health is by far one of its key selling points—and the evidence backs it up.
A blood pressure that’s too high (called hypertension) is one significant risk factor when it comes to heart diseases. Better systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure, the systolic is the larger indicator of cardiovascular disease risk.
An analysis of 12 different trials found that supplementing with CoQ10 lowered systolic blood pressure to the tune of 17 mm Hg. And when it comes to the diastolic blood pressure, it was lowered by up to 11 mm Hg.
However, CoQ1010’s heart benefits don’t stop there.
In one randomized controlled trial, it was found that supplementing with this compound was able to lower the risk of dying from negative heart events and reducing the symptoms of moderate to severe heart failure. Furthermore, those treated with CoQ10 had fewer hospitalizations than those who were not. Certain studies have also suggested that CoQ10 might be able to reduce the damage done to the heart by some chemotherapies.
This is with respect to chemo drugs such as Adriamycin and anthracycline; however, this is definitely something that should be discussed with a doctor beforehand.
CoQ1010’s benefits for the heart are believed to stem from the fact that it’s able to bring back the correct energy production to the heart, restoring its proper functionality. Furthermore, the compound can also protect against oxidative stress, which helps to maintain healthy tissues and protects from chronic diseases.
And speaking of oxidative stress, the brain is particularly susceptible to oxidative damage because of its high fatty acid content. Oxidative stress itself comes from free radicals which are charged particles that your metabolism produces along with your environment (think poor air quality).
This oxidative damage produces harmful compounds that have been linked to chronic conditions and may affect memory, physical functions, and brain cognition. However, CoQ10 has been suggested to reduce these harmful compounds.
Specifically when it comes to Alzheimer’s, CoQ10 has been explored as a potential candidate to mitigate the disease’s effects. While CoQ10 was ranked relatively low on the scale of its usefulness for Alzheimer’s disease, it was ranked high when it came to safety. Nevertheless, while this compound might not be the best option for a disease such as Alzheimer’s, the thinking is that CoQ1010’s effect on energy levels plays into its role for brain health.
For example, some symptoms of CoQ10 deficiency include brain fog and feelings of being drained. If CoQ10 is able to alleviate these feelings through its role in energy production and mitochondria, then there’s a case to be made that it can also help the brain.
While headaches are relatively common all around the world, a more serious form comes with the migraine. It affects around 1 in every 7 adults in the world, and it’s a major cause for study.
CoQ10 has been touted as a potential natural remedy for migraines. Studies have suggested that there’s a link between mitochondrial dysfunction and some forms of migraines. This can be attributed to CoQ10 deficiencies in certain cases since symptoms of deficiency include brain fog and headaches—but studies suggest there may be more to this.
One study found that CoQ10 supplementation successfully helped reduce migraine symptoms when compared to a placebo group. The group taking the supplement reported less migraine frequency and intensity.
While CoQ10 is found in all tissues, the lungs contain the lowest amount of this compound. Additionally, the lungs are more prone to oxidative damage due to the oxygen that passes through them.
This oxidative damage puts people at greater risk of developing asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The latter specifically has been shown to benefit from CoQ10 supplementation, as the compound helps to ease inflammation and improves cell activity. This is especially important since COPD gets worse with age and CoQ10 production diminishes as we age as well—making supplementation important and effective for ensuring healthy lungs.
Since CoQ10 is all about energy in the cells, it makes sense that this compound would play an important role when it comes to exercise performance. It plays an essential role in the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is a compound that allows for several physical processes, including muscle contraction.
Especially if one has an abnormal mitochondrial function, this can reduce muscle energy and make it more difficult for muscles to contract and have a sustained output—which spells trouble for the gains you’ve been trying to amass.
Oxidative stress can also affect muscle function since it affects these tissues, thereby decreasing physical performance. Along with boosting energy levels in cells and avoiding oxidative stress, CoQ10 can also potentially help reduce fatigue.
CoQ10 is also very important when it comes to the vitality of eggs and sperm in the reproductive system.
Some studies have shown that men who have supplemented with CoQ10 daily saw an increase in sperm mobility, count, and better morphology. Similar things were seen when it comes to women and egg quality—especially for women trying to conceive later in life.
Due to CoQ1010’s effects on oxidative stress, it can be helpful as a topical application in order to help your skin stay healthy.
It’s specifically been shown to increase the level of quinone on the skin’s surface, which is a compound used for lightening freckles and skin spots. Due to the effect of CoQ10 on free radicals, its topical treatment may have positive effects on aging, thin skin, wrinkles, freckles, and age spots.
A study from 2015 showed that mitochondrial distress is a contributory factor for Type II diabetes. This, along with the fact that diabetes is a chronic inflammatory disease exacerbated by oxidative stress, means that CoQ10 can be an extremely useful supplement.
Researchers have suggested that supplementing with CoQ10 may potentially lead to an overall improvement in glycemic control—however, more research needs to be done.
Statin is a drug given to people who are at high risk for cardiovascular disease. The drug itself is meant to lower cholesterol levels, but one serious side effect is myopathy.
This is a condition wherein muscle fibers don’t function as they’re supposed to, but studies have shown that a CoQ10 supplement reduces the number of symptoms when compared across placebo groups.
While studies on this claim are not yet conclusive, there is evidence that suggests that dosing with CoQ10 can help significantly reduce the development of disabilities in people with Parkinson’s disease.
The doses in this study were relatively large, at 1,200 mg of CoQ10 per day.
Effects of Coenzyme Q10—And a Lack of It
If you’re not sold yet on the importance of CoQ1010, then we’re not sure what to tell you.
It’s apparent that this compound is immensely important for a body that’s working in tip-top shape. But how do you know if you’re getting enough of this wonder-chemical?
A standard dose of CoQ1010 is usually anywhere from 90 mg to 200 mg per day but even doses up to 500 mg have shown to be normally well tolerated by people. Some studies have even used higher dosages without ill effects, including up to 1,200 mg over the course of 16 months.
Part of the reason for this is that CoQ1010 happens to have low toxicity, which is helped by the fact that it’s not actually stored in your body—just made. The fact that it’s not stored means that you need to be consuming some on a regular basis, preferably with other food.
However, side effects are still possible. These include:
These are, of course, pretty rare. But if side effects do occur, it’s best to either split the dose by half or by a third and take the portion in place of taking the full, former dosage.
The most important interaction of CoQ1010 is that with anticoagulants—otherwise known as blood thinners. CoQ1010 can possibly make these less effective in the system, which can therefore increase the risks of a blood clot occurring. There is also some evidence that suggests that CoQ1010 might reduce the effectiveness of some chemotherapies, so it’s best to consult a doctor before supplementing.
The most significant depletion of CoQ1010 happens as one gets older. This can occur as early as 20, but the levels your body produces start really dropping off after the age of 40.
Other causes that might create a deficiency are:
However, since side effects are hard to come by and its benefits are wide-ranging, it could be beneficial to take CoQ10 supplements with or without an explicit deficiency. For example, heart attack patients who took a CoQ10 supplement had a much lower chance of these cardiac events returning.
Symptoms of a CoQ10 deficiency include fatigue, exhaustion, trouble concentrating, mood swings, depression, and brain fog. However, it’s important to keep in mind that these are signs of a lot of other health issues and CoQ10 deficiency is far from guaranteed. The only way to find out for sure is to be diagnosed using a blood test—but this is something only a healthcare practitioner may be able to do.
But whether you supplement or not, it’s still important to include CoQ10 sources in your diet. Not only are they sources of this useful compound, but they’re also key for a well-rounded diet that places clean eating at the forefront.
This compound can be found in a variety of foods, but by far the best source is from red meats—specifically organ meats. Organs such as the heart, liver, and kidneys have the highest levels of this compound, followed by muscle meats.
Fatty fish are also great sources. This includes varieties such as herring, mackerel, sardines, salmon, and tuna. Following this are vegetable oils, which contain some CoQ10; sesame seed oil and canola oil contain decent levels of CoQ10.
Seeds and nuts are next down in CoQ10 levels. While sesame seeds and pistachios are good sources, other seeds and nuts are relatively hit or miss when comparing to red meat. Soybeans are also a good source. However, fruits and vegetables contain even less of the compound than seeds and nuts.
While oranges, strawberries, and avocados contain some level of CoQ10, one would have to eat 220 pounds of oranges in order to get 100 mg of CoQ10. As you can probably tell, that’s not exactly feasible. So, when you’re aiming to get enough CoQ10 into your diet it’s a good idea to pay attention to the foods you’re eating and supplementing as well.
The easiest way to ensure that you’re maintaining steady levels of CoQ10 is to take a dietary supplement regularly. However, when it comes to supplementing some things should be kept in mind.
Always make sure that you’re getting high-quality products since production isn’t as overseen as with food and drug products. For example, take our CoQ10 supplement.
Our formula calls for the supplement to be encapsulated in lipid molecular structures in order for the CoQ10 to be even more bioavailable for your body. And the more bioavailable it is, the more bang for your buck you’ll be getting.
With an optimized supplement, you can ensure that you’re getting your health optimized as well. However, while supplements can help you stay on top of your game, it’s going to take a holistic approach to wellness that really lets you flourish.
Supplements can be useful, but there’s no magic formula out there to give you better health. In order to achieve wellbeing, there are several things that you need to make happen.
Foremost is diet. It’s often said that you can’t out-train a bad diet, and that goes double if you’re looking to take care of your general health. It’s also said that variety is the spice of life—getting a good selection of whole, clean foods will set you up with a cornucopia of the nutrients your body needs to thrive. Not to mention that spices won’t hurt either; not only tasty but also filled with immune-boosting compounds.
Regularly staying active is also essential for health.
Not only will regular exercise boost your mood, helping you mentally, but it’ll also keep your body strong and spry (and good looking).