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“Power up” with CoQ10 - This natural nutrient boosts energy at the cellular level

“Power up” with CoQ10 - This natural nutrient boosts energy at the cellular level

You may have heard of the popular supplement known as CoQ10.  But what exactly is it?  The abbreviation “CoQ10” - for co-enzyme Q10 - might bring an abstract, highly technical mathematical formula to mind.  But nothing could be more natural than this organic compound.

Simply put, CoQ10 is a vitamin-like nutrient produced by the body that helps the mitochondria (the tiny “power centers” of cells) create energy in the form of adeno-triphosphate, or ATP.  In other words, CoQ10 - also known as ubiquinone - supports the health and vitality of virtually every system in the body.  So let’s look at some of the surprising ways that CoQ10 can benefit your health and learn why it’s so important to stay “topped up” on this beneficial substance.

Promote heart health with CoQ10

Scientists report that low levels of CoQ10 are associated with heart disease and serious conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and cancer.  (However, researchers don’t know if reduced CoQ10 is a cause or a consequence of these diseases).  In any case, studies have shown that CoQ10 decreases heart disease risk.  Researchers believe it works with two other fat-soluble vitamins - Vitamin D and K2 - to keep the linings of arteries healthy.  And it’s not hard to see why. 

As a potent antioxidant, CoQ10 can scavenge free radicals that cause oxidative damage to the heart.  And as an anti-inflammatory agent, it can fight the inflammation that researchers believe is at the root of heart disease.  In research published in JACC Heart Failure, adding 300 mg a day of CoQ10 to standard therapy reduced symptoms and lessened the occurrence of major adverse cardiovascular events in patients with congestive heart failure.  By the end of the two-year study, only 10 percent of the participants in the CoQ10 group passed away - as compared to 18 percent of the patients who didn’t receive CoQ10 – a very significant finding.  Undoubtedly, CoQ10 helps to protect the heart.

CoQ10 may help you take workouts to the “next level”

Some researchers believe that CoQ10 could help people exercise longer, making it easier to access the health benefits of regular physical activity.  (By the way, the National Institutes of Health recommends that adults get a minimum of 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise). 

CoQ10 may decrease fatigue and promote more effective muscle contractions by reducing oxidative stress and enhancing mitochondrial function.  In one study, supplementing with 200 mg of CoQ10 a day for two weeks caused participants to be able to exercise longer on a treadmill before becoming fatigued.  They also experienced lower amounts of oxidative stress than the control group that had not taken the supplement.  While more study is needed, these encouraging results suggest that CoQ10 may enhance exercise performance.  Maybe you should consider making CoQ10 your new workout buddy!

Protect and nourish skin with CoQ10

Unlike such popular ingredients as hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, and collagen, CoQ10 is not “top of mind” for most people when it comes to protecting and beautifying the complexion.  Yet this antioxidant compound confers significant protective gifts on the skin.  Topical CoQ10 has been shown to preserve collagen (needed for skin elasticity) while shielding against oxidative damage caused by exposure to UV rays in sunlight. 

In other words, CoQ10 is believed to help combat signs of photoaging (or, to put it more bluntly: wrinkles).  Encouraging news: CoQ10 is currently being investigated as a potential integrative therapy for cancer patients.  In a University of Miami study presented at an American Association for Cancer Research meeting, scientists reported that CoQ10 promoted apoptosis, or pre-programmed cell suicide, in cancer cells.  Finally, CoQ10 supplementation is believed to reduce the risk of skin cancer.

Warning - statin drugs deplete vital CoQ10

CoQ10 is found in many animal products - including grass-fed beef, organically raised chicken, and wild-caught fish such as sardines and salmon.  Organ meats, such as livers, heart, and kidneys, are particularly rich sources.  Vegans and vegetarians can obtain CoQ10 through olive oil, sesame seeds, peanuts, avocados, and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage.

Unfortunately, various factors - some controllable and some not - can affect your stores of CoQ10.  While this nutrient is present in lavish amounts in young people, levels decline with normal aging.  Statin drugs intended to lower cholesterol can also deplete CoQ10, as can nutritional deficiencies.

To maintain optimal levels of CoQ10, supplementation may be required.  Natural healers typically advise amounts starting at 200 mg daily - but consult your integrative doctor before adding CoQ10 to your health regime.  (Pro tip: CoQ10 should be taken with a meal that includes healthy fat.  And natural health experts advise the ubiquinol form of CoQ10 as the most bioavailable).

The upshot: CoQ10 is an important nutrient that can promote optimal health and wellbeing. If you are of mature years and/or take statin drugs, it might be a wise move to discuss CoQ10 supplementation with your healthcare provider.

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