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Science-Backed Benefits of Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)

Coenzymes are compounds that support enzymatic actions in the body. Coenzyme Q10, better known as CoQ10, plays an important role in producing energy at a cellular level and protecting the cells from damage.

The body produces CoQ10 locally, but this vital supply can be affected by the progression of age. Some conditions linked to low levels of CoQ10 include gingivitis, stomach ulcers, and difficulty regulating blood sugar levels. Cancer, diabetes, and cognitive decline are also associated with low CoQ10. 1

Nevertheless, CoQ10 can be found abundantly in food sources and is also available as a supplement. There is also medical evidence that CoQ10 supplementation can be applied to preventing and treating many of these conditions and demonstrates a wide range of other benefits as well.

Health Benefits of CoQ10

Essential to Cellular Energy Production

CoQ10 is an important antioxidant that the cellular powerhouse, called mitochondria, require to provide energy for the body. Mitochondria are independent organisms that provide a unique type of energy, adenosine triphosphate (ATP), to the human body in exchange for the formidable antioxidant protection our body can acquire or produce. Mitochondria require abundant antioxidants to maintain their production of energy without becoming damaged in the process. This is precisely what the human body can offer in the form of CoQ10.

When the body begins to fall behind on this important energy bill, mitochondria are not able to maintain their proper energy production. Reduced energy to organs and other tissue damages can then increase the risk of disease or dysfunction. The heart, brain, and liver all depend greatly on the energy from mitochondria, ATP, and also synthesize the most CoQ10 to assist with making energy. 2

Keeping up with CoQ10 supplies in the body works to keep the brain and vital organs from malfunctioning. More importantly, it provides the energy to maintain optimal functioning throughout the body. This leads to a higher resistance to disease , physical resilience in athletic performance, and greatly improved cognitive function all through life.

young woman holding head Prevents Migraines

There is hardly anything as bad as being tormented by recurring migraines . A migraine is typically caused by energy failure in the brain's neurons and can strike without warning. One of the primary causes of migraines is an overproduction of free radicals in the mitochondria and not enough antioxidants to mitigate their damage.

When the neurons and glial cells (astrocytes) of the brain lose power, depression and the symptomatic pain of a migraine is experienced. Research is being done on a preventative solution that addresses migraines by preventing this energy loss. CoQ10 has been shown to replenish energy in the mitochondria making it a form of treatment for migraines. 3

Protects Against Free Radical Damage

The human body requires energy to power the heart , lungs, brain, and vital organs. Even more power is needed to fuel the muscles and chemical communicators that regulate how the body moves and operates. In short, every aspect of human life requires energy.

Most of the energy comes from the food we eat, which is delivered from the gut by the blood. This energy goes to places where it will be metabolized into usable energy used to work think and play. Free radicals are unstable and reactive byproducts of this metabolic process and can cause damage called oxidative stress. 4

The potent antioxidant capacity of CoQ10 has applications in just about every aspect of the human body. Antioxidants attach themselves to free radicals which transforms them into a more stable compound. This prevents oxidative stress and the many conditions it can cause . 5

fit woman working out Improves Athletic Performance

CoQ10 supplementation improves metabolic processes and cellular energy which also increases physical performance. When exercising, the muscles applied to each motion are metabolizing glucose into ATP which is used to fuel mechanical motion.

As your exercise routine continues, more metabolic action can lead to a buildup of free radicals in the muscles . Research has shown that part of what causes muscle exhaustion is from the presence of free radicals after the energy exchange. 6 Studies have found that CoQ10 supplementation increases the amount of CoQ10 in the muscles while exercising which reduces oxidative stress and increases the time to exhaustion. 7

Prevents Heart Conditions

The heart is a powerful muscle that began working before you were even born. While the heart can become damaged from many factors, oxidative stress can slowly deteriorate the structures and functions of the heart which can lead to heart failure.

Studies have shown that CoQ10 plays an important role in improving the function of the heart and protecting it from oxidative damage. In a placebo-controlled test on over 400 people suffering from heart conditions, CoQ10 greatly reduced complications and symptoms related to heart failure without side effects. 8

young woman with glowy skin Skin Health

The largest organ in the body protects us from harmful chemicals, the wind, and the harsh light of the sun. Keeping the skin young and beautiful is also an important role of antioxidants and a good reason to supplement CoQ10.

Spending time in the sun exposes the body to harmful UV radiation and increases free radical damage. If the free radicals take over, the skin can lose its bouncy collagen reserves (which can’t be replenished) and structural integrity. This can lead to unhealthy conditions and wrinkles.

A powerful antioxidant like CoQ10 works as an effective skin tonic to prevent the skin from the attrition of time and visible effects of aging. 9

Lung Health

Those living in a traffic-congested city or otherwise exposed to irritants in the atmosphere are at an increased risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. This condition affects the flow of oxygen in the lungs and can result in symptoms like coughing and shortness of breath. Other symptoms can be a lack of energy and poor cognitive functioning as the brain and body are not receiving sufficient oxygen. 10

Studies have shown that supplementing with CoQ10 could reduce the symptoms of some of these lung-related conditions as well as the dependence on other medications to control them. 11

Which to Choose: Ubiquinone or Ubiquinol?

When searching for CoQ10 on the supplement markets, you will find two different terms used: ubiquinone and ubiquinol. Understanding the subtle differences between these two compounds will allow you to get the most from your supplementation.

As we have discussed, the mitochondria require CoQ10, also known as ubiquinone, to convert food energy into ATP that powers the brain , muscles, and organs. Before ubiquinone can metabolize energy it must be transformed into its final form, ubiquinol. Ubiquinol is also a more powerful antioxidant than ubiquinone.

Younger people have no problem performing the transformation from ubiquinone to ubiquinol and therefore have a steady supply of both compounds. Somewhere between the ages of 30 and 40, the body begins to lose its capacity to transform ubiquinone into ubiquinol. Greatly reduced energy and reduced organ function and are few of the effects felt as a result.

Ubiquinol does not need to be converted into anything unlike ubiquinone so it is ready to be once in the digestive system. Therefore, supplementing with ubiquinol would be far more effective than supplementing with regular CoQ10, or ubiquinone, especially for those older than 40.

Risks and Precautions

CoQ10 supplementation is very safe and side effects considerably rare. Some of the most common side effects reported include:

Those taking blood thinners, thyroid medications, or those with thyroid conditions should not take CoQ10 supplementation. Consult your physician for more information.

There have not been enough studies conducted to know how supplementation with CoQ10 or ubiquinol could affect pregnant mothers of developing infants. Pregnant and nursing mothers should avoid supplementation unless otherwise instructed by their health provider.

Most experts recommend doses between 90 mg to 200 mg daily for improving energy levels and balancing preventing oxidative damage. Studies have found that doses higher than this are still well tolerated.

Fat Soluble

Because this coenzyme is fat soluble, supplements taken with meals are going to be more effective. The body will also assimilate the CoQ10 three time faster when eaten with a meal than eating after a fast.

Final Notes on Supplementing with CoQ10

CoQ10 supplementation has been found safe and is well tolerated even in high doses. By paying attention to a few important precautions there are no adverse side effects to regular supplementation.

If you suffer from headaches or simply want to protect your heart health, give CoQ10 supplements a try!

Photo credits: puhhha/, Gorodenkoff/, popcorner/, NanThidarat/

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