Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, is an enzyme that helps your cells produce energy. As we get older, our bodies have a limited ability to produce enough CoQ10 to ward off diseases like cancer, heart disease, brain disease and diabetes—all linked to low levels of CoQ10.
While research has been inconclusive as to whether low CoQ10 levels are the cause or a result of these diseases, the enzyme can help your body in a number of ways. Here’s why you should consider adding CoQ10-heavy foods and supplements to your diet.
The nitty gritty
You might remember from elementary school science that the mitochondria are the powerhouses of your cells. CoQ10, appropriately, is stored in the mitochondria after it’s produced. Mitochondria also help fight off oxidative stress, viruses and bacteria—which is why CoQ10 has been linked to a better ability to fight off diseases and other illnesses. But as we get older, our bodies just can’t produce enough CoQ10 to be as effective.
CoQ10’s main function is to help produce energy for the cells, but it also acts as an antioxidant to fight off illness and oxidative stress. You can find CoQ10 in every cell in your body, but the more energy an organ needs, the higher the CoQ10 levels.
CoQ10 deficiencies can occur as a result of statin treatments (used for cholesterol regulation), oxidative stress from aging, genetic defects, nutritional deficiencies and certain diseases.
Generally, CoQ10 is safe to take. Side effects include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Some people also include skin itching, rashes, insomnia, headaches, dizziness, headaches and fatigue. It may interact with anticoagulants. Always talk to your doctor before starting a new supplement—and if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, avoid it. There hasn’t been enough research to determine whether CoQ10 is safe for pregnant and nursing people.
CoQ10 is naturally found in meat, fish and nuts, but not at a level that will significantly impact your levels. In other words, if you need to increase your CoQ10 levels, supplements are the most effective way.
Benefits of CoQ10
Adding CoQ10 to your routine can help with the following conditions:
- Athletic performance: Your muscles can be affected by oxidative stress, but higher levels of CoQ10 can improve the energy delivered to your muscle cells. In turn, it can help you exercise longer.
- Brain health: Our brains need a lot of energy to keep functioning, and the mitochondria in our brain cells are particularly vulnerable. That’s because the brain is particularly high in fatty acid content, and therefore can experience higher levels of oxidative stress than other organs in the body. Boost your brain health with CoQ10 and you many notice an improvement in memory, cognitive and even physical function.
- Cancer prevention: Cancer is caused by oxidative stress, and CoQ10 is a natural antioxidant—plus, the energy production boost can help cells survive longer.
- Diabetes: When oxidative stress damages your metabolic organs, it can cause insulin resistance. CoQ10’s antioxidant properties help fight oxidative stress, and can improve blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity.
- Fertility: CoQ10 can help improve fertility by improving the quality of sperm and eggs, which naturally declines as we age. Ask your doctor whether more CoQ10 could help your chances of conception and healthy pregnancy.
- Headaches: When abnormally functioning mitochondria increase your calcium uptake and leave your brain with insufficient energy, headaches occur. CoQ10 can help treat headaches, including migraines.
- Heart disease: Coronary heart disease and high blood pressure can lead to heart failure. It’s caused by oxidative damage and inflammation of the veins. CoQ10 can reduce the oxidative stress in your cardiovascular system, improving heart health.
- Lung conditions: Oxidative stress in the lungs leads to asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). CoQ10 can improve athletic performance and reduce inflammation.
- Visible signs of aging: Oxidative stress is responsible for visible signs of aging, such as wrinkles, dehydration and thinning skin. Add more CoQ10 to your diet to stay looking young.
Increasing your CoQ10 levels may treat all of these conditions—anything linked to oxidative stress can be improved by adding this and other antioxidants to your diet. While more research is needed to fully understand its effects, this safe, effective and natural antioxidant can dramatically improve your health. Talk to your doctor about the appropriate dosage and frequency for your needs, and get ready to enjoy the health and antiaging benefits for yourself.