CoQ10, or the Coenzyme Q10, is a fat-soluble antioxidant. The enzyme, naturally present in the cell’s mitochondria, is important to carry out the chemical reactions in the body. The CoQ10 benefits are numerous, ranging from energy production to protection of body organs from oxidative cell damage. Read through to know more about the powerful enzyme and how it works.
What is Coenzyme Q10?
Coenzyme Q10, commonly called CoQ10, is an antioxidant in the body. It is naturally produced and stored in the mitochondria of the human cell. Here, it is used for the growth and maintenance of the cell. It is responsible for producing cellular energy and protects the cells from oxidative damage and disease-causing microbes. Being an active antioxidant, CoQ10 neutralises the harmful effect of free radicals which damage cell membranes, make alterations in the DNA, and spur cell death.
The body produces CoQ10 in two different forms – ubiquinone and ubiquinol. While ubiquinone is the oxidised form, ubiquinol is the reduced form of CoQ10. Thus, ubiquinone is first converted to ubiquinol, the active form, and then absorbed and used by the body.
But the synthesis of CoQ10 decreases with age. Also, certain medical conditions may lead to depletion of CoQ10 levels. This may increase the incidence of heart failure, fluid accumulation in the body, high blood pressure, Parkinson’s disease, gum disease, blood infections, and many other health conditions.
CoQ10 Benefits You Must Know
As CoQ10 is fundamental for body cells, its high concentration in the body bestows numerous benefits. These include:
1. Helping Slow Down Premature Ageing
Decreasing levels of CoQ10 amounts due to ageing is primarily responsible for the onset of chronic health conditions in old people. As CoQ10 is an antioxidant and is responsible for various cellular processes in the body, it is critical for cell activity during ageing. Research suggests that the process of premature ageing can thus be slowed down either by improving the endogenous synthesis of CoQ10 in the body or through CoQ10 supplements.
2. Helping Treat Heart Failure
Heart ailments are often a result of blocked coronary arteries and high blood pressure. These conditions further increase oxidative damage to the body organs and inflammation of the veins and arteries, aggravating the condition. But treatment with CoQ10 supplements helps improve heart function by increasing ATP production in the body and reducing oxidative damage to organs. Regular intake of CoQ10 supplements helps improve symptoms and lowers the risk of death due to heart failure.
3. Helping Reduce Sun Damage on Skin
Skin, the largest organ of the body, is constantly exposed to damaging agents. These factors are internal and external. While internal damage is caused due to cellular damage and hormonal imbalance, external agents like UV rays and pollution reduce the skin moisture content, aggravating skin conditions. But the application of CoQ10 supplement creams directly to the skin promotes antioxidant protection. It improves skin elasticity, reduces age-related damage, and decreases the risk of developing skin cancer.
4. Helping Improve Headaches
Headaches, especially migraines, are caused due to reduced energy in the brain cells. Abnormal mitochondrial function is responsible for the trigger as increased calcium absorption, excessive production of free radicals, and reduced antioxidant protection lower the energy supply to the brain cells. But CoQ10 supplements improve mitochondrial function, thereby emerging as an effective treatment for migraines.
5. Helping in Cancer Prevention
Free radicals and oxidative stress increase cell damage and impair function. The frequent and uncontrolled breakdown of the cells increases the risk of cancer. But adequate levels of CoQ10 in the body help protect cells from oxidative stress and damage. The enzyme helps promote cellular energy production and aids in improving cell health. As cancer patients have lower levels of CoQ10, supplementing with CoQ10 helps protect cell DNA. This helps in cancer prevention and recurrence.
6. Helping Improve Exercise Performance
Athletic performance is directly related to muscle function. But oxidative stress and abnormal mitochondrial function impair muscle contraction. This also erodes muscle energy. But research suggests that the CoQ10 supplement benefits exercise performance by reducing the oxidative stress in the cells. The improved mitochondrial functions increase ATP production which increases stamina and endurance. Improved muscle power results in reduced fatigue which in turn increases exercise performance further.
7. Helping Improve Fertility
Male and female fertility reduces with age. This is because ageing reduces the natural production of CoQ10 which protects the sperms and eggs from oxidative damage, reducing their quality and quantity thus spurring infertility issues. But by adding CoQ10 supplement to daily diet, infertility can be reduced. Research shows that the antioxidant properties of the CoQ10 enzyme reduce age-related oxidative damage.
8. Helping Improve Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease is marked by the inflammation of the gums and the bone surrounding the teeth. Caused due to a bacterial infection, CoQ10 supplements help correct the condition through their antioxidant properties. The increased concentration of CoQ10 in the body directly acts on the affected gingival. This helps in efficiently suppressing periodontal inflammation.
9. Helping Improve Diabetes
Organ damage caused by oxidative stress leads to metabolic diseases like diabetes. Abnormal mitochondrial function is also responsible for insulin resistance. But regular intake of CoQ10 supplements has shown improvement in insulin sensitivity and better-regulated blood sugar levels. The CoQ10 supplement also helps in preventing the condition by stimulating the breakdown of fats. This reduction in the accumulation of fat cells can help overcome obesity and type 2 diabetes.
10. Helping Boost Brain Power
Mitochondria are the energy powerhouse. They are responsible for generating energy which is used by the body cells. Abnormal mitochondrial function is therefore responsible for the onset of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s which are caused due to oxidative damage to brain cells. The oxidative damage further triggers the production of harmful compounds that affect memory, cognition, and physical movements. Research shows that CoQ10 dosage can protect brain cells from oxidative damage. The increased concentration of the enzyme in the body also reduces the action of harmful compounds that lead to brain diseases.
11. Helping Protect Lungs
Oxidative stress is caused due to imbalance between the production and accumulation of oxygen reactive species (ROS) in the body cells. As the lungs are the most in contact with oxygen, they are highly susceptible to oxidative damage. Poor antioxidant protection due to low levels of CoQ10 aggravates the problem, leading to respiratory diseases like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). But CoQ10 supplement reduces oxidative damage and inflammation by improving tissue oxygenation and heart rate.
Factors Responsible for CoQ10 Deficiency
The levels of CoQ10 deplete with age. In addition to this, other factors responsible for lower levels of CoQ10 are:
- Age-related oxidative stress
- Chronic stress
- Mitochondrial dysfunction or disease
- Vitamin B6 deficiency
- Genetic defects in CoQ10 synthesis and its utilisation
- Intestinal disorders
- Underlying medical condition
- Constant iron overload
- Persistent intake of chlorinated water
- Drug interaction like statins, antibiotics, laxatives, and birth control pills
Recommended CoQ10 Dosage Per Day
The standard CoQ10 dosage per day varies between 90 mg and 200 mg. This typically depends upon the condition being treated. Also, as Ubiquinol is the more absorbable form of CoQ10, it is recommended to choose supplements that contain CoQ10 in ubiquinol form. Furthermore, being fat-soluble, it is advisable to take a CoQ10 supplement with food which contains oils (lipids) to improve its absorption in the body. A regular intake of CoQ10 for about 2-4 weeks is required to reach optimum levels. However, CoQ10 supplements are not recommended for children and pregnant or breastfeeding women.
CoQ10 Dosage Side Effects
Although the CoQ10 supplement is well-tolerated and is considered safe for consumption, it must be consumed only on medical prescriptions. The documented side effects include:
- Low blood pressure levels
- Low blood sugar levels
- Gastrointestinal issues like nausea, vomiting, heartburn, abdominal discomfort, diarrhoea, and loss of appetite
- Interaction with anticoagulants makes them less effective and even increases the risk of blood clots.
- Itchy skin
- Decreased light tolerance
Foods Rich in CoQ10
Certain foods are naturally rich in CoQ10. While a vegan diet has moderate amounts of CoQ10, meat, poultry, and fish are the richest sources of dietary CoQ10. But cooking, especially frying, reduces CoQ10 content in food by almost 30%.
The foods naturally rich in CoQ10 are:
- Pork primarily heart
- Beef primarily heart
- Chicken primarily thigh
- Fish particularly Sardine and Mackerel with red flesh
- Oils particularly Soybean, Olive, and Canola
- Nuts particularly Peanuts, Pistachio, and Sesame seed
- Vegetables like Parsley, Spinach, Broccoli, and Cauliflower
- Fruits like Avocado, Grapes, Blackcurrant, Strawberry, Orange, Grapefruit, Apple, and Banana
CoQ10 seems to have many health benefits. The enzyme is involved in the production of cellular energy and acts as an antioxidant that protects the body from oxidative stress. These properties make the CoQ10 supplement a powerful therapeutic for the prevention and treatment of some chronic diseases. Since CoQ10 production decreases with age, increasing intake through foods or supplements is recommended. However, it is advisable to talk to your medical health practitioner to know your CoQ10 dosage per day.