The Power of CoQ10
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an organic compound that is fast becoming my favorite supplement. Among its many functions is its critical role in ATP, or energy production of every cell in the body. In the body, CoQ10 is converted from ubiquinone to its active form ubiquinol and occurs in higher concentrations in our most vital organs, including the liver, kidneys, and heart.
What Does CoQ10 Do for Us?
Because of the role CoQ10 has in energy production and cellular metabolism, the areas of the body that it impacts could be innumerable. Found in the part of our cells called the mitochondria—known as the powerhouse of the cell and key to our energy production—CoQ10 is responsible for the conversion of nutrients to energy and helps us to absorb certain nutrients and essential vitamins. Current research supports anti-aging and other health benefits such as decreasing muscle wasting, maintaining skin health and protecting against the oxidative effects that cause skin damage, improving fertility, protecting brain health, and protecting DNA. Additionally, it has been shown to improve symptoms of fibromyalgia and may lower blood pressure and help ease migraines.
Because many chronic and age-related diseases are a result of the process of oxidation in the body, one of the most powerful properties of CoQ10 is its function as an antioxidant. We are more familiar with the concept of oxidation outside the body—when metal oxidizes, it rusts. When an apple oxidizes, it rots and goes bad. While oxidative stress is a normal process that occurs in the body, when unchecked it is the root cause of many adverse health problems. Oxidative stress has been associated with aging, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and some neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. This is where CoQ10 comes to the rescue—it can reverse or slow this oxidative process, and may help mitigate side effects of chemotherapy and help our bodies to fight certain infections as well.
CoQ10 and Aging
With so much potential to have positive effects in our body, it is unfortunate that our CoQ10 levels begin to decline with age, typically after the age of 40. Additionally, CoQ10 is depleted by cholesterol lowering statin drugs, and the drop in CoQ10 may be attributed to the side effects we see with the use of statin medications. Despite the positive association with CoQ10 and heart health and that millions of Americans are taking these cholesterol-lowering medications that are, by conventional wisdom, supposed to “prevent” heart disease, it is curious that heart disease is still the number-one killer in the U.S. Therefore, most adults taking statin medications should be supplementing with CoQ10. Could the depletion of CoQ10 have more influence over our heart health than the statin drug itself? Some food for thought and an interesting point for further study may be whether the drop in cholesterol is more beneficial than the potential side effect of lowering this life-giving coenzyme.
Heart Health, Decreased Cancer Risk, and Anti-Aging? Where Do I Sign Up?
While the body can make some of its own CoQ10, what we are able to produce decreases as we age. We can augment our supply with a healthy diet that includes grass-fed and organic meats like beef, chicken, and liver; wild caught fish like herring and sardines; cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli; organic eggs; and some fruit like oranges and strawberries. However, diet alone is not likely to supply us with enough of this powerful compound or make up for the depletion as we age.
Taking CoQ10 supplements is the best way to increase the amount of CoQ10 in our cells. While CoQ10 can be a pricier supplement than some, the quality of the product is critical to your ability to absorb and utilize this powerful element. Reading labels is key. You may see supplements that have the word “ubiquinone” on the packaging; however, the body will still have to convert this to the bioavailable form of ubiquinol and it is not able to do this as efficiently as we would like. A quality CoQ10 product will already be in the form of ubiquinol and therefore more bioavailable to our cells. Inevitably, the ubiquinol is therefore more expensive. While saving money is important, though, this is a place where investing in the right form of CoQ10 will make a significant difference.
Though dosing will vary based on particular conditions, a typical dose for CoQ10 is 100–200 mg. It is imperative that you speak to a naturopathic doctor about proper dosing. Side effects are minimal and are not life threatening, but may include gastrointestinal upset, dizziness, and headaches. Furthermore, CoQ10 may interact with some medications, so it is recommended to follow up with your prescribing physician.
Dr. Katy Firisin is an expert in gut health and healing as it relates to all disease. She is a naturopathic doctor and medical director at Coastal Natural Medicine in Southport.
Call 475.999.2032 to set up a complementary 15 minute consult or book your appointment today. Some insurances accepted.