In our last blog post, we presented some recent studies that looked at astaxanthin, exercise performance, and recovery. CoQ10 was mentioned very briefly in that post and since it’s a common nutrient compared to astaxanthin…we thought we’d give you a general overview of it!
CoQ10 is a naturally-occurring nutrient that is found within the body’s mitochondria. Note that CoQ10 is also called ubiquinone. The name CoQ10 is short for coenzyme Q10. CoQ10 is an antioxidant that supports energy production, stabilizes your cells’ membranes, and subjugates cell damage from free radicals.
As a person gets older, the body produces less CoQ10. This is why many people choose to supplement with CoQ10. CoQ10 supplementation may help to offset some of the common issues that arise from too little CoQ10. In addition, CoQ10 supplementation may help to boost the natural CoQ10 benefits that occur in the body.
The Role of Mitochondria
To better understand how essential CoQ10 is for supporting energy and other functions, it’s important to grasp the role of mitochondria in the body. Mitochondria are microscopic independent cellular structures called organelles that perform a certain function within a cell. A practical analogy would be a department within a corporation. If the company is the cell, the department (the organelle) operates its own functions while supporting the health of the company. So the workers in a department of a company represent the mitochondria within the cell.
Mitochondria are responsible for generating the cell’s ATP (adenosine triphosphate), a chemical energy source. To generate ATP, mitochondria need CoQ10. In another practical example, ATP can be analogous to electricity, and CoQ10 would be analogous to coal. A (coal-fired) energy company can’t make electricity to fuel homes without an adequate supply of coal.
Finally, the energy produced by mitochondria isn’t only used to help your muscles. It’s used throughout the body to help all of your cells to perform their various functions. So if a cell is responsible for creating collagen, it needs the energy from its mitochondria to do so. If a cell is responsible for circulating your body (a blood cell), it needs the energy from its mitochondria to function. Mitochondria are within all of your cells. They are essential to life, and they require CoQ10 to produce ATP. This is why CoQ10 is such a hot topic and an important nutrient.
The Qualities of CoQ10
CoQ10 is fat-soluble. That means that it is highly able to be absorbed and stored within the body. Applied topically, CoQ10 is readily absorbed into the skin cells and deliver helpful antioxidant benefits that may help build collagen and perhaps reduce common signs of aging like wrinkles and sagging skin.
CoQ10’s fat-solubility is also good news as far as supplements are concerned. It means that when you take CoQ10 orally, it is bio-available to your body; it’s not just flushed out of your system like some other non-soluble vitamins. It’s available for your mitochondria to use to produce cellular energy on every level.
What is CoQ10 Used For?
CoQ10 has a wide range of uses. Because it can play a part in collagen production, it’s often found as an ingredient in cosmetics, particularly skin “rejuvenation” creams. However, note that the amount of CoQ10 may be minimal and not highly effective in some products.
Be sure you check the label to see if the label mentions its bioavailability. Since CoQ10 is highly absorbed, you can then know that you’re delivering the supplement to where it’s needed – your cells’ mitochondria.
Here are some common reasons that people take CoQ10 supplements:
- Established CoQ10 deficiency (through a blood test)
- Chronic fatigue, such as fibromyalgia
- Heart disease
- Macular degeneration
- Exercise Endurance
- Muscular dystrophy
- Parkinson’s disease
- Brain “fog”
- Skin sagging
- Skin wrinkles
As with any supplement, CoQ10 is not an end-all, be-all nutrient. Having a well-rounded diet and meeting with your physician or a registered dietician are highly recommended if you want a tailored nutritional plan or diet.