If you’ve never heard of CoQ10, you might be surprised to learn just how powerful this vitamin-like substance really is.
What is CoQ10?
Short for coenzyme Q10, CoQ10 is a fat-soluble substance found in nearly every cell in your body, with its highest concentrations in the heart, kidneys, liver, and pancreas. CoQ10 helps convert the food we eat into usable energy, is produced by the body, and can also be found in certain food sources. It is also a powerful antioxidant, meaning that it serves an important dual purpose; not only does it help generate the energy necessary to keep our bodies alive, but it also neutralizes the waste the energy-making process creates. That is, the free radicals that are responsible for disease-causing inflammation and premature aging.
A pretty amazing compound, right? Unfortunately, there are a number of factors that can lower CoQ10 to suboptimal levels, leaving you feeling sluggish and at an increased risk of health issues.
Who Is at Risk for Low Levels?
The bottom line? Pretty much everyone, as we get older. As you might imagine, our bodies naturally decline in energy production as we age. If we eat well, stay active, and effectively manage our stress levels we can help slow this decline but we can’t entirely prevent it. This is because the number of mitochondria, AKA the power plants found inside our cells, diminish in number, and with it, the CoQ10 levels found inside. Decreasing levels are also associated with genetic defects that impact CoQ10 synthesis as well as mitochondrial disease, oxidative stress from aging and environmental factors, vitamin B6 deficiency, and heart disease.
Research also shows a potential connection between low levels of CoQ10 and other diseases including cancer, diabetes, and neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s. However, it remains unclear as to whether low levels are the cause or the effect.
CoQ10 and Its Connection with Heart Health
CoQ10 and its positive impact on health has been most studied in terms of heart disease, as high blood pressure or high LDL cholesterol can also lower levels in the body. Adequate levels of CoQ10 are especially important for those with cardiovascular disease as research shows a correlation between healthy hearts and higher levels of CoQ10. What is promising however, is that supplementing with CoQ10 can drastically improve the outcome for those who have experienced heart failure, meaning it can also have a tremendous impact on less serious heart problems.
*For those taking statins medications to lower “bad” cholesterol, it is worth noting that these drugs can also reduce your CoQ10 levels, making it vitally important to supplement to help offset this side effect.
A Promising Nutrient for Other Health Conditions
While there has been plenty of research regarding CoQ10’s positive impact on heart health, more studies are needed to understand just how impactful it is on other health conditions, including:
· Diabetes and prediabetes. CoQ10 may improve metabolic health in people with these conditions by promoting blood sugar control and preventing insulin resistance.
· Fertility issues in both men and women. CoQ10 may improve fertility issues as its antioxidant power prevents oxidative stress that can affect sperm count or damage eggs.
· Migraine headaches. CoQ10 may reduce the duration, frequency, and severity of migraine headaches.
· Improved brain and lung health by protecting against oxidative damage.
· Potential of lower incidence of cancer recurrence.
· Improved athletic performance by reducing muscle fatigue.
Getting More CoQ10 Through Diet
Generally speaking, it is best to get your vitamins and other important nutrients through a healthy diet before you reach for the supplements. But CoQ10’s uniqueness carries over to this area as well; though there are plenty of foods that contain CoQ10, and your body produces it, diet alone may not be enough to optimize your levels. Foods with the highest levels include:
· Fatty fish including wild-caught salmon, anchovies, herring, mackerel, and sardines
· Organ meats like beef heart and chicken liver
· Nuts and seeds like pistachios and sesame seeds
· Legumes such as soybeans, lentils, and peanuts
· Veggies like spinach and broccoli
How to Supplement—the Right Way
Before starting any supplement regimen, it’s important to discuss it first with your healthcare provider. However, CoQ10 is generally well-tolerated and doesn’t have any serious side effects. Dosing depends on every individual and their unique health needs. An average recommended daily intake (RDI) ranges from 100 - 400 milligrams daily. Most people who begin supplementing notice an improvement in their energy and health within just a few days.
It's very important to choose the right kind of supplement. CoQ10 is best taken as either a liquid or a liquid capsule in its ubiquinol form, as it’s the most bioavailable. And since you are investing in your health, it’s equally important to invest in a high-quality supplement rather than a cheap version found online or at a box store.
If you feel like CoQ10 supplementation might be right for you, please contact me. Together we can build a plan to help you reach your ideal levels through diet as well as navigate the tricky world of supplements to find the best choice for your individual needs.