Takeaway: CoQ10 is a naturally occurring essential nutrient found in the body. It is required in energy production and in executing multiple bodily functions. CoQ10 supplements are said to be beneficial for older adults as it has anti-aging properties and acts as an antioxidant as well. It keeps the heart healthy and protects the body from cell damage caused by free radicals.
Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10 for short, may sound like a foreign chemical, but it is actually a naturally occurring nutrient found within the body. Its biggest role involves producing energy from food sources. And, in fact, it is responsible for 95% of the body’s energy production at the cellular level.
But, that’s not all – every single cell in the body requires CoQ10 to execute day to day bodily functions. That said, our body’s organs will not be able to perform as it normally should without a proper dose of CoQ10.
The good news is, it is not that hard to supplement the body with the right amounts of CoQ10. Eating foods rich in Coenzyme Q10 is a great way to meet the daily requirements. Such foods include organ meats like kidney, liver, and heart. And, if you’re not a fan of those parts, regular pork, beef, and chicken are selections of meat with plenty of CoQ10.
Meanwhile, vegan options include broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, legumes, and lentils. And, if you have room for dessert, fruits like strawberries and oranges are your best bet.
Another way to increase CoQ10 levels in the body is to take supplements. Today, most CoQ10 supplements come in pill, powder, or liquid form. But before purchasing a bottle for yourself, it’s best to learn a little bit more about what CoQ10 is, its benefits, and possible side effects.
What Is CoQ10?
Because CoQ10 is usually sold as a supplement, many people have mistaken it to be a type of vitamin. But, the truth is, Coenzyme Q10 is not considered a vitamin because all animals, including humans, can produce coenzymes on their own – even without the help of food. Nevertheless, it is still an essential nutrient with a daily dose requirement, and it needs to be met to ensure good physical health.
CoQ10 is commonly referred to as ubiquinone or ubiquinol in its active form. The said substance is synthesized within the body and is then used for various bodily functions including energy production, blood pressure regulation, and the transportation of electrons just to name a few. This being the case, taking CoQ10 supplements can prove to be very advantageous to the body as it plays an integral role in many important bodily functions. For more information on CoQ10 benefits, read on below.
So, if the body can naturally produce its own Coenzyme Q10, you might be wondering why there is a need to take it in supplement form. Research by the Oregon State University discovered that the natural synthesis of CoQ10, along with a CoQ10 sufficient diet, is enough for the body to prevent deficiency among healthy people. The problem lies in the fact that the body produces less Coenzyme Q10 as it ages.
The decrease in CoQ10 production is more common in people over the age of 40, and most especially among those taking statin drugs to lower blood cholesterol. Certain health conditions such as diabetes, congestive heart failure, and cancer are also associated with decreased plasma levels of CoQ10.
Accordingly, CoQ10 is more commonly taken by older adults and by those who have said health conditions. With its many health benefits for the aging population, it’s no wonder that CoQ10 supplements are the most highly recommended form of supplementation for older adults. Have a look at its long list of health below:
Slows Down Aging
Aging is inevitable. As we get older, our body performs differently, and our organs may start to degenerate. The human body requires mitochondrial ATP synthesis to maintain fast metabolism, the strength of muscles and bones, and the youthfulness of the skin. And, because CoQ10 is one of the most common enzymes in the mitochondria, its behavior significantly impacts the process of synthesis.
CoQ10 levels decline as we age. And, as a result, energy metabolism decreases leading to the degeneration of our organs such as the heart, liver, and skeletal muscles. According to research, taking CoQ10 supplements may slow down age-related DNA damage. CoQ10 can strengthen the muscles, preventing risks of bone or joint injury. Moreover, it can also provide more protection for the heart against stress-related aging.
Decreases Free Radical Damage
To understand the impact of free radical damage on the body, a quick chemistry review may be required. To put it briefly, free radicals are produced when the oxygen in the body splits into single atoms with unpaired electrons. Unpaired electrons are unstable because they usually come in the pair. As they hunt for other electrons within the body, the whole process causes damage to the body’s cells, proteins, and DNA.
The good news is, the body is naturally smart enough to fix this problem. Along with the production of free radicals, our cells are also capable of producing antioxidants that neutralize the damaging effects of free radicals. Sadly, this is just the ideal situation. In today’s society, we are regularly exposed to factors that cause an excess of free radicals in the body. Environmental pollution, lifestyle, and even are all culprits of excessive free radicals.
However, the problem does not end there – it’s merely the beginning. The imbalance of antioxidants and free radicals in the body is called oxidative stress, and it is is one of the major causes of a wide range of chronic diseases today. Conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer are linked to oxidative stress.
This is where CoQ10 comes in. Acting as an antioxidant, CoQ10 can not only help neutralize the balance of free radicals in the body, but it can also minimize cell damage caused by the free radicals in the body.
Promotes Heart Health
CoQ10 is one of the most highly recommended supplements by cardiologists today and with very good reason. As mentioned earlier, Coenzyme Q10 strengthens our muscles including the heart. But, that’s not the only way it promotes heart health. Although further research is needed to prove this claim, researchers have found that CoQ10 may be a viable solution for treating heart disease. By acting as an antioxidant, CoQ10 can treat heart ailments by improving cellular energy and by decreasing the damaging effects of free radicals.
Additionally, CoQ10 supplements are known to be an excellent solution for those who are taking statin medication. Statin drugs are used to lower cholesterol, but more often than not, it can lead to certain side effects such as muscle pain, liver inflammation, and liver damage, as well as an increase in blood sugar for those who also have type 2 diabetes. Taking CoQ10 supplements can significantly lower statin drug side effects.
Maintains pH Levels
Earlier, we’ve learned that CoQ10 is involved in the transportation of both electrons and proteins across membranes. It is also responsible for separating digestive enzymes from the rest of the cell. And because of this, CoQ10 is also known for its role in maintaining optimal pH levels in the body. According to some studies, diseases can easily develop in an environment that struggles to maintain proper pH levels. With all that being said, CoQ10 is also associated with cancer risks in addition to its antioxidant capacity.
Although there is no conclusive evidence regarding CoQ10’s potential in curing cancer, some medical experts have observed significant improvements in cancer patients who have taken CoQ10 supplementation. Some of these observations include:
- Enhances the impact of chemotherapy while also minimizing its side effects
- May prevent colon cancer and cervical cancer
- Slows down the spreading of breast cancer
- Can increase the survival rate in the final stages of cancer
CoQ10 for Migraine
According to one study published in 2018, Coenzyme Q10 showed promising results in decreasing the severity, duration, and frequency of migraines. It works by lowering levels of a certain peptide found in the brain called calcitonin gene-related peptide or CGRP for short.
This peptide is linked to inflammation and pain, and it may be the reason why CoQ10 works so well for migraine headaches. Since CoQ10 has anti-inflammatory properties, it is a viable treatment for inflammation.
Additionally, there were two other small studies that provided evidence of CoQ10’s migraine preventing properties. According to those studies, those who experience migraine headaches tend to have lower levels of CoQ10, revealing a possible relationship between CoQ10 levels and migraines.
Alternatively, those who then consumed CoQ10 supplements three times daily reported a decrease in the frequency of migraine attacks. However, it is also important to note that the study claims CoQ10 to be more helpful in children and younger adults.
CoQ10 for Fertility
Some studies claim that CoQ10 can also help improve male fertility. Thanks to a series of clinical trials, researchers have discovered that CoQ10 can help improve the sperm in terms of motility (movement), morphology (size and form), and overall sperm count.
It also increases fertilization rates and thus aids in certain infertility-related diseases such as asthenozoospermia and Peyronie’s disease. And, because CoQ10 also acts as an antioxidant, it is not surprising to find that it can also help increase antioxidants in the seminal plasma.
CoQ10 Side Effects
Coenzyme Q10 is safe to consume, and it is not likely to cause any serious side effects. Most people can tolerate CoQ10. However, like most kinds of supplements, it may also cause some mild side effects in certain people. The side effects include stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and diarrhea. To resolve this, your doctor may recommend you to divide the total daily dosage of CoQ10 to smaller amounts. This means you may have to take it 2-3 times per day rather than one whole pill once.
CoQ10 may also cause skin allergies and lower blood pressure. If you are sensitive to certain foods and if you have certain conditions, it is best to discuss your CoQ10 supplementation with your doctor first before consumption.
CoQ10 and Statins
CoQ10 supplements are often recommended to people who take statin drugs to lower cholesterol. Research shows that statin drugs hinder the production of CoQ10 in the body. In fact, it actually reduces your natural CoQ10 levels by 40%.
It is no wonder that statin drugs are also known for its notorious side effects. Muscle pain being the mildest and most common side effects, more severe cases such as liver damage may also be a consequence of taking statin drugs. Sadly, many people are dependent on these drugs to reduce cholesterol.
The good news is, CoQ10 is also known to minimize the side effects of these drugs. Unfortunately, this claim has been challenged by a review made in 2007 stating that there aren’t any known risks involved. Although records show that CoQ10 can help alleviate statin drug side effects, further research may be required to ensure its safety for all patients. However, that is not to say that it cannot improve heart-related diseases. CoQ10 has been proven to increase blood flow and enhance the performance of those who have experienced heart failure in the past.
Having low CoQ10 levels isn’t defined as a medical deficiency. It is extremely rare to find an individual with Coenzyme Q10 deficiency with 9 out of 10 of those cases involving a genetic defect that hinders the synthesis of CoQ10 in the body.
Consumption of CoQ10 supplements is required to stop the effects of brain and muscle-related issues related to CoQ10 deficiency.
Is CoQ10 a Blood Thinner?
Contrary to what most people think, CoQ10 is not a blood thinner. However, it may cause certain side effects when taken with other medications. Drugs such as warfarin (Coumadin) or clopidogrel (Plavix) become less effective at thinning the blood when also taking CoQ10.
How Much CoQ10 Should You Take?
At the time of writing, there is no established ideal dosage of CoQ10. Various studies have used doses ranging from 50 milligrams to 12000 milligrams. However, the typical dose per day is said to be between 90-200 milligrams. It is important to note, however, that the right amount will always be dependent on your health conditions.
To get the right amount, simply follow the instructions included on the bottle of your CoQ10 supplement of choice. And if you have certain health conditions, it would be best to discuss your supplementation plan with your doctor.