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This Critical Energy-Producing Molecule is Inside Every Cell
Few nutrients have inspired as much fascination, research, and hope as Coenzyme Q10—a lipid-soluble antioxidant that has been the subject of many thousands of peer reviewed scientific articles, and yields nearly seven million search results on Google. In the year 2000, two million Americans took CoQ10—as of 2016, that number had soared to 24 million. CoQ10 holds a special and honored place in the nutraceutical hall of fame—it was the centerpiece of one of the most significant Nobel-prize winning discoveries in biology. In 1978, biochemist Peter Mitchell won the Nobel Prize for clarifying the pivotal role CoQ10 plays in energy production in the cell.
CoQ10 is literally utilized by every cell in the body. No wonder this nutraceutical has been studied for everything from energy to its role in a healthy heart, skin appearance, aging, fertility, weight loss, oral health, a healthy respiratory system, migraine headaches and more. It seems to be a nutrient for all seasons and reasons.
How CoQ10 Works in Your Cells
CoQ10 is responsible for converting food into energy. The way it works is simple enough. Inside every cell in the body reside unique energy powerhouses called mitochondria—cellular batteries, if you will. Nutrients from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are transformed inside the mitochondria into ATP (adenosine triphosphate)—a molecule that provides energy for the cell. ATP is so important that the human body recycles it 1000 to 1500 times a day. CoQ10 facilitates the transfer of electrons (energy) into ATP.
CoQ10 lives mostly on the inner membranes of the mitochondria, where the “power lines” for electrons live. An astonishing 95% of all cellular energy is dependent upon CoQ10.1
CoQ10 does more than facilitate energy production. It also safeguards the precious mitochondria from damage and oxidative stress by acting as a powerful antioxidant and free-radical scavenger. Energy is like fire—it can burn—and CoQ10 might be seen as the cooling water that quenches the fires that burn inside the mitochondria. When CoQ10 levels drop, mitochondrial
dysfunction increases. When CoQ10 has been added to aging mitochondria, their function has improved markedly.
CoQ10 also helps recycle other antioxidants, particularly vitamin E, which is also fat soluble. Not surprisingly, the highest CoQ10 concentrations are found in our most energy-intensive organs: the brain, heart, liver, and kidneys.2
Unfortunately, after about age twenty, our natural levels of CoQ10 steadily decrease.3
CoQ10 Supports Heart Health
CoQ10 is best known for its heart and vascular health benefits. Because the heart is richer in mitochondria than any other organ in the body, CoQ10 can uniquely protect and support cardiovascular function. In 2014, a remarkable, decade-long double-blind study on CoQ10 and the heart was completed. Called the Q-SYMBIO trial, it followed 420 patients for two years.4 The study found that heart failure patients supplemented with CoQ10 in addition to standard therapy showed a 44% reduction in cardiovascular mortality compared to those receiving standard therapy and a placebo. Even more astonishing, those receiving CoQ10 had a 42% reduction in all-cause mortality (from any cause). CoQ10 appears to support life itself.
Can Migraines be Alleviated by CoQ10?
Nausea, vomiting, neck pain, sensitivity to light and sound, and throbbing headaches—these are the most common symptoms of migraine headaches, which can be debilitating and even disabling. Migraine affects 18% of American women, 6% of men, and 10% of children.
It’s thought that migraines might be linked to low CoQ10 levels. A study of CoQ10 in 1,550 children and adolescents found that nearly one-third had levels of the nutrient below the standard reference range.5 CoQ10 has been shown to reduce some inflammatory chemicals associated with migraines6 and a 2017 study in eighty migraineurs found that 100 mg of CoQ10 daily dramatically reduced the number of migraines per month. The severity of the headaches was also lessened. All this occurred without any observable side-effects.7
Protect and Balance Mood And Energy
CoQ10 may be low in individuals suffering from depression—in one study, over half of depressed persons’ CoQ10 levels were below the lowest values seen in their mood-balanced
counterparts. Another study found that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of CoQ10 could improve symptoms of depression over a period of 8 weeks.8 And in a study of multiple sclerosis patients, CoQ10 improved both fatigue and depression.9
Coenzyme Q10 may also balance mood and support mental sharpness by protecting brain cells from oxidative damage, and thus supporting neural signaling. In a very interesting animal study, CoQ10 protected neurons from lesions induced by a toxin, and restored energy production in neurons to nearly normal.10 Another animal study found that CoQ10 plus Vitamin E helped older animals learn more quickly and boosted their performance on a variety of tests of learning and memory.11
Breathe Deeply with CoQ10
Amounts of CoQ10 are significantly lower in individuals suffering from lung conditions such as asthma or COPD. Supplementing with CoQ10 has shown remarkable benefit. CoQ Topical treatment with coenzyme corrected a deficiency in a potent antioxidant, superoxide dismutase (SOD) that has been linked to asthma. In addition, CoQ10 increased potential beneficial effect of CoQ on airflow was made evident by a significant increase in the amount of air a person can forcefully exhale in one second—an increase that continued even six weeks after stopping CoQ10.12Asthmatic patients were able to reduce the amount of steroids they took daily after supplementing for a total of 16 weeks of active treatment.13 In turn, individuals suffering from COPD were able to improve their exercise performance, tissue oxygenation and heart rate while taking CoQ10.14
Pamper Your Skin with Oral and Topical CoQ10
The skin is the largest organ in our body, and protects us from innumerable toxins and assaults from the environment. It is continually involved in tissue regeneration and repair. Our skin is exposed to constant fluctuations in humidity and temperature, as well as air and water pollution and damaging ultraviolet light. CoQ10 applied topically can significantly increase levels of ubiquinone on the skin surface as well as the deeper layers of the skin (epidermis). This results in what we call “skin aging”—with the appearance of wrinkles and the loss of elasticity, so markedly different than the soft, silky skin of a newborn baby.
When skin cells are studied in the laboratory, CoQ10 helps increase energy metabolism in the cells, and helps reduce free radicals and increase antioxidant capacity. In one study, taking a CoQ10 supplement for twelve weeks actually reduced signs of visible aging, including wrinkles and fine lines, as
well as improved skin smoothness.15 Other research showed that CoQ10 reduced wrinkle depth, helped protect against UV light’s damaging effects, and many of the detrimental effects of photoaging.16
CoQ10 has also helped reduce visible signs of aging and sun damage, as well as reduce melanin levels in skin cells, suggesting that it might help reduce skin discoloration due to sun exposure.
Support Healthy Blood Glucose And Weight Approximately 32% of Americans have metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that includes high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the abdomen, and high cholesterol or triglyceride levels. Metabolic syndrome increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. In metabolic syndrome, tissue levels of oxidative and inflammatory molecules are elevated. Levels of CoQ10 are also reduced.17 Supplementation with CoQ10 in the active ubiquinol form normalized markers indicating poor blood sugar control. Blood pressure was lowered as well.18
CoQ10 May Help You Live A Longer Life
French philosopher Teilhard de Chardin once famously said, “Growing old is like being increasingly penalized for a crime you haven’t committed.” This wry statement reflects the fact that age often brings illness, fatigue or debility. But why do we age in the first place? It’s well known that every seven to ten years nearly every cell in our body has been replaced by new cells.
The catch may be the mitochondria. A mitochondrial theory of aging says that the energy powerhouses inside our cells are damaged over time by oxidative stress. And CoQ10 may be helpful in this regard. We know that when CoQ10 is added in to aging mitochondria, their function improves. And studies with the most famous “worm” in science—the incredibly tiny C. elegans, which has a complete nervous system–show that CoQ10 can slow down aging and extend lifespan.19
You Can Find CoQ10 in Foods and Supplements
CoQ10 is naturally found in abundance in organ meats such as liver, heart and kidney, some muscle meats, fatty fish such as herring, mackerel and sardines, vegetables such as cauliflower, spinach and broccoli, fruit such as oranges and strawberries, legumes such as lentils and peanuts, and nuts such as sesame seeds and pistachios.
In supplements, CoQ10 can be found in its electron-rich reduced form called CoQH2 or ubiquinol, a superb antioxidant. It can also be found in the form of ubiquinone, which requires that the
body convert it to ubiquinol. Many people choose to supplement CoQ10 because of the steady decline in our natural production. By age 80 we make only about 35% of our youthful levels.20 “A steady, lifetime decrease in CoQ10 is far more common than we may have assumed,” says biochemist Magnus Bentinger of Stockholm University and the Rolf Luft Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology in Stockholm.21
One important consideration is absorption of an oral supplement. A nanoemulsified liposomal format dramatically enhances uptake, allowing the CoQ10 to be absorbed as soon as it lands in the mouth. This allows for direct uptake into circulation, and also helps increase delivery to the cell and mitochondria where it can be most helpful.22
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