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This Coenzyme is the Antioxidant Powerhouse You Need to Fight Signs of Aging

Supplement Spotlight: CoQ10 to Protect Heart Health + Mitochondria

Coenzyme Q10–CoQ10 as it's commonly called–is an antioxidant used by every cell in the body. It helps make energy and protects cells from oxidative damage, which is a key piece in reducing signs of accelerated aging. Because of this, it's especially beneficial to support the energy-hungry cells involved in heart health and brain function. Unfortunately, certain medications and the natural aging process deplete CoQ10–just when your body needs it the most!

The kind of cellular damage associated with low antioxidant status is linked to everything from minor issues like difficulty concentrating to severe health problems like Alzheimer's disease, dementia, and heart disease. Fortunately, dietary supplements can help boost CoQ10 even as it declines with age. Which one to take? And who should be concerned with CoQ10 status? We'll discuss it all, in addition to the many health benefits of Coenzyme Q10.

What is CoQ10 and what does it do?

CoQ10's main function in the body is to facilitate the conversion and utilization of energy. The active form of CoQ10–ubiquinol–is stored in the mitochondria of your cells, which makes sense when you consider that the mitochondria are your energy-making powerhouses.

CoQ10 is also a powerful antioxidant, preventing free radicals from damaging cell membranes and causing oxidative stress. This kind of cell damage contributes significantly to the development of disease and can accelerate signs of aging.
Your body makes a certain amount of coenzyme Q10–called ubiquinone or ubiquinol in its active forms–but its production decreases with age, as well as in the presence of some medications such as statin drugs. It’s now one of the most popular dietary supplements as more and more people realize the benefits associated with this coenzyme.

Shop CoQ10 supplements emulsified for maximum bioavailability.

Ubiquinol as an antioxidant

Coenzyme Q10 is not only necessary for producing cellular energy, but also for defending cells from oxidative damage caused by harmful free radicals. This oxidative damage contributes to inflammation which is implicated in many different disease states, including diabetes, cancer, and Crohn’s. Abundant antioxidants mitigate this buildup of free radicals.

Inflammation produced as a result of insulin resistance is one significant contributor to poor health and disease. But one study found that CoQ10 supplementation may help protect from some oxidative stress caused by insulin resistance as a result of poor blood sugar control (1).

Coenzyme Q10 can exist in three different forms in the body–known as oxidation states. The ability of these different forms to either donate or accept electrons is a key feature of its role in reducing free radical damage.
Due to its unique biochemical structure, Coenzyme Q10 can effectively “recharge” other antioxidant nutrients as well. By donating electrons, it helps recycle vitamins C and E, promoting their continued antioxidant status. Another powerful antioxidant, glutathione, has this ability also.

Related: Increase Antioxidants Naturally with These 10 Simple Actions

Reduce the effects of photoaging

The visible effects of aging and photoaging (like wrinkles, or dull, dry skin) are associated with an increase in cellular oxidation in the skin. This occurs when the accumulation of free radicals outpace antioxidant capacity, which may be due–in part–to a decline in the levels of the cellular antioxidant, coenzyme Q10.

This decline in your body's ability to fight free radicals begs the question of whether or not increasing antioxidant capacity can reduce some of the undesirable effects of aging on skin cells and elsewhere.

True to this assumption, studies suggest CoQ10 may be beneficial for the appearance of the skin, as well as helping to give you that extra energy boost when you need it.
In one clinical trial, topical application of CoQ10 visibly reduced wrinkle depth, as well as other effects of photoaging. Researchers also found that CoQ10 decreased the activity of another enzyme responsible for the breakdown of collagen in the skin (2).

CoQ10 may also help stave off physical fatigue. In a double-blinded, placebo-controlled study, participants experienced less physical fatigue during activity (3).

Read more: Reduce Photoaging with this SPF Guide

Want to learn more?

CoQ10 for focus, memory, and brain health

CoQ10 promotes mitochondria health within the brain and protects against oxidative damage that plays a role in neurodegenerative disease (4).

Mitochondrial dysfunction is common in neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and Huntington’s disease. Due to the role of CoQ10 in the brain’s mitochondria, CoQ10 shows therapeutic potential for complementary use in a wide range of cognitive conditions (4).
Your brain consumes a huge amount of energy compared to other organs and tissues in the body. As metabolically active as it is, this also means your brain is especially vulnerable to the damaging effects of free radicals. In fact, in one review of cognitive health, researchers state specifically that, “a key feature of the cognitive aging process is the body’s increased vulnerability to damage caused by free radicals” (5).

Even in healthy individuals, CoQ10 can still exert neuroprotective effects. Elements with the ability to support endothelial function, such as CoQ10, may be associated with increased cerebral blood flow, enhancing the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the brain (6).

Read more: Early Onset Dementia is on the rise. Here’s why and how to protect your brain health.

Why do cardiologists recommend CoQ10?

Statins are prescribed to treat high cholesterol in adults with an increased risk of cardiovascular events. While generally well-tolerated in most adults, statins are commonly associated with muscle complaints, ranging from mild to severe pain, cramps, and weakness. Statins reduce cholesterol production by inhibiting a pathway that also produces compounds needed for normal mitochondria function. This includes ubiquinone, or CoQ10 (7).

Since CoQ10 is fundamentally essential to mitochondrial function and cellular energy production (ATP), the depletion of CoQ10 and resulting mitochondrial dysfunction is thought to be the main underlying cause of muscle pain associated with statin use. Supplementation with CoQ10 is thought to ameliorate this side effect.

CoQ10 and Heart Disease

Those suffering from congestive heart failure (CHF) have low levels of CoQ10 in both blood and myocardial (heart) tissue. We know that CoQ10 reduces oxidative stress, which is a key marker of mortality in heart failure (8). But perhaps the strongest evidence supporting the use of CoQ10 for CHF comes from a randomized, controlled trial that showed a 43% relative reduction in major cardiac events (death, hospitalization, etc.) following supplementation with CoQ10 (9).
It’s important to note, however, that these reductions occurred after participants had been supplementing CoQ10 for a period of 2 years.

High cholesterol

This antioxidant is very beneficial for heart health and cholesterol–especially if you’re on any cholesterol-lowering medications.

Although more studies are needed, one meta-analysis suggests that CoQ10 may help reduce total cholesterol and increase HDL or “good” cholesterol (10).

There’s also some evidence that CoQ10 can reduce the markers of metabolic syndrome, which is a collection of symptoms including hypertension, high cholesterol, and blood sugar imbalance.

Related: Top 10 Best (Natural) Supplements for Weight Loss

Can CoQ10 improve COVID recovery?

There are numerous trials and studies ongoing to better understand the possible benefits of CoQ10 for Covid treatment and/or recovery (11).

One proposed notion is that Covid may negatively impact mitochondria, making it harder for cells to produce energy (12). This would account for some of the lingering symptoms, like fatigue and difficulty concentrating, which many people report after the initial infection has subsided. One study suggests that CoQ10 and selenium may be effective to mitigate some of this mitochondrial dysfunction, restoring the body’s energy-producing powerhouses (13).
Additionally, CoQ10 is a powerful antioxidant, and one of its primary functions is to help prevent oxidative damage to cells. Coenzyme Q10 may offer supportive benefits for lung tissue and your immune system.

Related: Is Epstein-Barr Reactivation the Cause of Your Fatigue?

What is better—CoQ10 or ubiquinol?

There are two types of CoQ10 you’ll see listed in dietary supplements: ubiquinone and ubiquinol. In comparison, ubiquinol is more effective at the cellular level. The inactive form–ubiquinone–has to undergo a few conversion steps in your body before your cells can utilize it.

The efficiency of oral CoQ10 can be improved based on how it’s prepared. CoQ10 supplements are available as tablets, powder-filled capsules, and emulsified soft gel capsules. Because it’s fat-soluble, an emulsifier improves absorption. Data mostly shows that CoQ10 has superior bioavailability in its reduced form (ubiquinol) than in its oxidized form (ubiquinone), although both have been used in clinical studies (14).

Dietary sources

In addition to adding a CoQ10 supplement to boost your levels, you can also eat foods high in CoQ10, like:

  • Grass-fed beef
  • Organ meats, like liver and kidney
  • Cooked spinach or broccoli
  • Peanuts and soybeans
  • Fish, especially mackerel, tuna fish, salmon.

Grass-fed, or naturally-raised animal proteins, contain more antioxidants per serving than conventionally raised animal products (15). Yet another reason why it’s important to choose the best quality food when possible.

Read more: 5 Greens You Should be Eating More Of

Can I take CoQ10 on an empty stomach?

CoQ10 is fat-soluble, meaning it’s best absorbed with a meal that contains sufficient amounts of fat. Take this supplement with a balanced meal instead of on an empty stomach.
The best time to take CoQ10 varies, but studies support taking it either with breakfast or in the evening with dinner to maximize absorption.

Precautions

While your body does make CoQ10 naturally, it’s still important to let your integrative provider know if you plan on adding a new supplement to your routine since some medications can interact with dietary supplements.

CoQ10 doesn’t generally have any safety concerns, though higher doses may reduce blood pressure slightly or cause a minor upset stomach.

Healthy Living with Integrative Medicine

CoQ10 is a powerful antioxidant that’s crucial for the optimal health of your brain and heart. But it also has other benefits, like reducing inflammation and helping to reverse damage from free radicals. As we age, our production of CoQ10 decreases, making us more susceptible to the damaging effects of these harmful molecules.

If you’re looking for an edge in keeping your body healthy as you get older, consider adding CoQ10 supplements to your diet. This article can help you figure out if CoQ10 is right for you!

Resources

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0006295209006388
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10416055/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18272335/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6549544/
  5. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnagi.2019.00103/full
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19051188/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29027135/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11897436/
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25282031/
  10. https://lipidworld.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12944-018-0876-4
  11. https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04960215
  12. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33164536/
  13. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34279837/
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6822644/
  15. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22063662/

Tags

anti-aging, coenzyme, coq10, holistic medicine, natural supplements


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