What is Coenzyme Q10?
You’ve probably heard of this as CoQ10, the name by which it’s more commonly called. You’ve likely seen it on the shelves in the supplement section of your favorite health store. But even if you’ve heard of it, chances are that you don’t know exactly what Coenzyme Q10 is.
Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, is an important antioxidant that is necessary for cell health. Our More Than Healthy clients are frequently deficient in this antioxidant. But unlike other common deficiencies we see in clients, such as vitamin D, vitamin C, potassium, or magnesium, most of them have never heard of Coenzyme Q10.
CoQ10 is not a vitamin, mineral, or vegetable. It’s actually an antioxidant involved in energy production within the body’s cells. It’s found in every cell in your body. But the organs that work the hardest (like the heart, kidney, lungs, and liver) have higher concentrations of CoQ10.
Your body produces CoQ10 naturally, but production decreases with age. Your cells use CoQ10 for growth and maintenance, so it becomes even more important as we get older. Additionally, if you have a heart condition, or if you take cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins), chances are you have low levels of CoQ10.
What causes low CoQ10 levels
Interestingly, low levels of Coenzyme Q10 may be linked to other conditions. For example, nutritional deficiencies, particularly low levels of vitamin B6, are often linked to low CoQ10. Your particular genetics may mean you are naturally low in CoQ10, causing defects in your ability to synthesize or utilize CoQ10. Mitochondrial diseases (such as muscular dystrophy, Lou Gehrig’s disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease) often cause low CoQ10. Or, it may be simply the oxidative stress that accompanies natural aging that causes low levels.
Low CoQ10 and the link to disease
Before I did my hair analysis, I hadn’t ever really paid much attention to CoQ10. But then I reviewed the section of my hair analysis report that talked about the importance of antioxidants. Since then, I’ve learned a lot about the importance of CoQ10, and now I’m paying attention to my levels along with what I can do to get the right amount daily.
Low levels of CoQ10 have been linked to heart disease, brain disorders, diabetes, and cancer. It’s kind of a “chicken and the egg” situation…scientists are unclear whether low levels cause these diseases, or if they’re a result of them. But one thing is very clear: research has revealed that Coenzyme Q10 has a wide range of significant health benefits.
Let’s talk about five of our favorite health benefits of the right amount of Coenzyme Q10.
Five benefits of Coenzyme Q10
Benefit #1: Coenzyme Q10 is good for heart health
CoQ10’s primary function is to help generate energy in your cells. It’s involved in making adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is involved in energy transfer within cells. It has another crucial role: to serve as an antioxidant and protect cells from oxidative damage.
We’ve talked about antioxidants and oxidative damage in previous posts. Excessive amounts of free radicals lead to oxidative damage, which can interfere with regular cell function. This is what seems to cause many health conditions. Heart failure seems to be the top one.
In a study with 420 people suffering from heart failure, a two-year treatment of CoQ10 improved their symptoms and reduced their risk of dying from heart problems. In another study, 641 people were treated with CoQ10 or a placebo for a year. At the end of the study, participants in the CoQ10 group had been hospitalized less frequently for worsening heart failure and had fewer serious complications.
Prevention is the best medicine
I think it’s great that they’re doing studies showing the effectiveness of CoQ10 on people with heart failure, but I’m in the camp of preventing heart disease. So what I find really impressive are the studies that show that treatment with CoQ10 assists with restoring optimal levels of energy production, reduces oxidative damage, and improves heart function. In fact, these studies actually name CoQ10 as a treatment for heart failure!
As a side note, this is what I love about hair analysis. You can see if your levels are low in something as important as CoQ10, and then you can do something about it long before you have a symptom as frightening as heart failure. Hair analysis gives us the ability to be proactive in addressing health issues that could be looming. I find that to be extremely empowering.
Benefit # 2: CoQ10 can help reduce wrinkles
Anyone interested in this benefit? I know that Carla and I both are! Your skin is the largest organ in your body, and it’s widely exposed to damaging agents that contribute to aging. These agents can be internal or external. Internal factors are cellular damage, as we discussed previously, or hormonal imbalances. External factors include environmental agents like UV rays, which can lead to dry and thinning of the layers of skin.
Some of the main benefits of CoQ10 include protecting skin, evening skin tone, and smoothing the skin. Studies show that applying CoQ10 directly to the skin has been shown to increase energy production in skin cells. It also promotes antioxidant protection, so much so that it’s proven to decrease wrinkles.
CoQ10 and skin cancer
Studies also show that those with low CoQ10 had higher rates of skin cancer. This was news to me, and it’s news I’m definitely interested in, as I’ve already battled skin cancer. One study of melanoma patients even showed a lower risk of cancer recurrence with supplementation of CoQ10. I’m very interested in ways to prevent my melanoma from coming back.
Scientists used to extract CoQ10 from the tissues of horses, but now it is mainly derived from fermented natural yeast. In this form, it can enhance serums, moisturizers, and toners, making it easy to add CoQ10 to your skin regimen.
Benefit #3: CoQ10 can prevent some cancers
We’ve already touched on this above, as CoQ10 can prevent melanoma cancer. But the health benefits of CoQ10 include other forms of cancer as well. As a three-time bladder cancer survivor, this benefit is something I’m definitely interested in. Studies show that the right amount of CoQ10 can help prevent some forms of cancer.
If your body cannot effectively fight oxidative damage, the structure of your cells can become damaged, possibly increasing your risk of cancer. This is why CoQ10 is effective at cancer prevention.
Studies show cancer patients have lower levels of CoQ10. Additional studies also show that low levels of CoQ10 have been associated with up to a 53% higher risk of cancer. Yikes. Those numbers really motivate me to make sure I’m getting the right amount of Coenzyme Q-10!
And there’s more – one study shows that supplementing with CoQ10 can help reduce the chance of cancer recurring. That’s some powerful cancer prevention! Count me in!
Benefit #4: Coenzyme Q-10 is good for the brain
The right amount of CoQ10 is good for the brain. We’ve talked about mitochondria before. They are the main energy generators of brain cells. Sadly, like everything else, they tend to decrease with age. But healthy, functioning mitochondria are vital to our health and well-being.
In fact, mitochondrial dysfunction can lead to the death of brain cells and cause diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Since Carla’s dad suffered from the horrible disease of Parkinson’s, I saw firsthand how that could destroy your life, and I don’t want any part of that if I can avoid it.
Unfortunately, the brain is very susceptible to oxidative damage due to its high fatty acid content and oxygen demand. The oxidative damage intensifies the production of harmful compounds that could affect memory, cognition, and physical functions.
CoQ10 has been shown to reduce these harmful compounds, thus reducing the risk of diseases like Alzheimer’s. Studies show that CoQ10 also helps slow down the functional decline involved in diseases like Parkinson’s.
That’s important to me. I’m always looking for ways to improve my brain power. During the many years I battled so many health issues, of all the terrible symptoms and side effects I faced, brain fog was one of the scariest. Gratefully, I’ve seen my memory improve over the past few years as I’ve worked on reducing the inflammation in my body and brain. Now I’m looking to continue optimizing my health, especially the health of my brain.
Benefit #5: CoQ10 can help with exercise performance
You may think this benefit of CoQ10 only matters to people like Carla and me, who spend a lot of time training and competing in sports, even in our 60s. But before we get into the specific benefits of exercise performance, I want to explain why this should be important to absolutely everyone.
You don’t have to be a pro athlete to want a body that continues to move and perform well, even with age. Regular physical activity is one of the very most important things you can do for your health. It is proven to delay or totally prevent many of the health problems that seem to come with age. It keeps your muscles strong so that you can continue to do your day-to-day activities without dependence on others. I don’t know about you, but nothing sounds worse than having to rely on someone else to help me to stand up, or walk across the room, or a whole slew of other things. No thanks! My goal is to live as long as I can, as young as I can! CoQ10 helps us be able to do that.
Oxidative stress and muscle function
Just like everything we’ve already addressed, oxidative stress can affect muscle function, thus affecting exercise performance. Similarly, abnormal mitochondrial function can reduce muscle energy, making it hard for muscles to contract efficiently and sustain exercise.
CoQ10 helps exercise performance by decreasing cell oxidative stress and improving mitochondrial function. One study investigated the effects of CoQ10 on physical activity. Participants who supplemented with 1,200 mg of CoQ10 daily for 60 days showed decreased oxidative stress.
Additional studies showed that supplementing with CoQ10 can help increase power during exercise and reduce fatigue. Who doesn’t want to make their exercise session more productive and less tiring? Sign me up!
The anti-aging cardio workout
Here’s an example of physical activity as an anti-aging solution. A study conducted at Brigham Young University found that people who ran 30-40 minutes for five days a week were consistently biologically younger than those who exercised less or led sedentary lifestyles.
Are you thinking, “Well, I’m not a runner!” That’s totally okay! You can substitute other high-intensity exercises, such as swimming, biking, elliptical machine, or aerobics…anything that makes you work up a good sweat. Making sure you get the right amount of Coenzyme Q-10 makes that cardio workout time even more productive – and less tiring – as you’re working to reduce your biological age.
How to get the right amount of CoQ10
Most of the time, 90-200 mg of CoQ10 per day is recommended. If you are severely deficient, you may need 300-600 mg. Certain foods do provide some CoQ10 (see list below), but it’s usually not enough to noticeably increase the levels in your body. CoQ10 supplements can help. A supplement we recommend is found here.
- Organ meats: Heart, liver, and kidney
- Some muscle meats: Pork, beef, and chicken
- Fatty fish: Trout, herring, mackerel, and sardine
- Vegetables: Spinach, cauliflower, and broccoli
- Fruit: Oranges and strawberries
- Legumes: Soybeans, lentils, and peanuts
- Nuts and seeds: Sesame seeds and pistachios
- Oils: Soybean and canola oil
Our bodies absorb CoQ10 in pill form similar to how we absorb it in food. It’s considered to be a safe and well-tolerated supplement. It is fat-soluble, so it absorbs better when taken with a meal or snack that contains a fat source. Soft gels tend to be easier to absorb than capsules. Taking it at night may also help the body’s ability to use it. As always, please consult with your doctor to learn of any potential interactions with medications you’re taking.
CoQ10 as a topical
As mentioned earlier, CoQ10 is also a popular ingredient in anti-aging and beauty products. It’s found in creams, cleansers, toners, and even some toothpaste! That’s because it’s an effective antioxidant that helps protect against those pesky free radicals and it energizes cell production, revealing fresh, new tissue. After researching various products, we plan to try this CoQ10 lotion, as we are interested in the anti-aging effects we discussed above.
Learn your levels of CoQ10 through hair analysis
A great way to find out if you need more CoQ10 is through hair analysis, an amazingly informative service now offered at More Than Healthy. With just a few strands of your hair, you receive a full report that looks at toxins, nutrients, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, electromagnetic frequency exposure, chemicals, radiation, parasites, and immune factors, as well as which foods you should avoid – and it all only takes about 15 minutes! Go to our website to learn more. You can schedule a local hair analysis or have it mailed to you today.
The health benefits of the right amount of Coenzyme Q-10 are for you
Did you learn anything new about CoQ10? I sure did! And I plan to make sure to maintain healthy levels so that I can reap all these powerful health benefits. As always, we enjoy hearing from you. If you have health questions about CoQ10, or any other health issue, you can go to our social media pages on Facebook or Instagram (@morethanhealthyliving) and ask it there. Or, you can private message us. We try to respond to all questions.
Have you tried our free detox yet? We highly recommend our healthy and safe cleanse, the More Than Healthy 7-Day Detox. Carla and I created this plan to help our clients kick start their journey to optimal health. We offer this program at no cost. Just go to our website and click on Get the 7-Day Detox, and we’ll send it to you, absolutely free.
We’d love to become your health coaches as you work to become “more than healthy” and achieve your optimal health. Thanks for joining us, and we’ll see you next week.