CoQ10: Who Is It for?
By Michael Stanclift, ND
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) may sound like a code name for an eccentric secret agent, but this versatile compound’s aliases indicate how common it is in the natural world. CoQ10 also goes by the names ubiquinol or ubiquinone.1 It’s a fat-soluble antioxidant that affects all cells in our bodies and is especially important for the powerhouses of our cells, our mitochondria.1 Most of the benefits from CoQ10 come from its ability to protect cells and their components from oxidative stress and its ability to produce energy in our mitochondria.1
So who might benefit from CoQ10? Anyone looking to enhance the health of these bodily systems:
Our muscles have a ton of mitochondria in them, and in turn they really like CoQ10.2 If our muscles don’t have enough CoQ10, they can become tender, and we might experience more fatigue.1 In some cases, taking CoQ10 supplementally can help with discomfort, tenderness, and fatigue.1
On a related note, our hearts are also loaded with mitochondria and are essentially muscles that never rest.3 CoQ10 can help improve contractility of our heart, prevent the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol, maintain healthy blood pressure, and support the delicate endothelial layer that lines our blood vessels.1 Some medicines, like HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, commonly known as “statins,” inadvertently blunt our ability to make our own CoQ10, so can reduce what we have available.1 In situations such as this, supplementing CoQ10 may help.1
Research shows CoQ10 supplementation can support long-term healthy blood sugar levels.1
Our highly active brains don’t make up a big percentage of our weight, but they certainly consume a lot of our energy in calories.4 All that energy consumption has the potential to result in oxidative stress, requiring a steady supply of antioxidants.1 Also, remember that our brains have a lot of fat in them, and as CoQ10 is the only internally produced fat-soluble antioxidant, it is precious in our cranium-encased think organs.1 Research shows that CoQ10 levels in our brains are important, and having an adequate amount can be protective.1
Sperm have the important job of delivering half a set of genes to an egg, and the “delivery” part of that job relies on, you guessed it, mitochondria.5 You’ve probably seen a microscope view of sperm, those tadpole-shaped cells with a head (housing DNA) and a tail. Between the head and tail are a collection of tightly wound mitochondria, which power and propel the whip-like tail and cause the sperm to swim.5 Therefore, CoQ10 plays an important role in the health of sperm.
Because CoQ10 is pivotal in our abilities to produce energy in our cells and protect them from potential damage from this energy production, it’s needed in all cells. CoQ10’s importance becomes most apparent in our most metabolically active tissues such as our muscles, hearts, and brains. If you’re looking to enhance the health of these organs, then ask your healthcare provider if supplementing CoQ10 is a good idea for you.
- Garrido-Maraver J et al. Clinical applications of coenzyme Q10. Front Biosci (Landmark Ed). 2014;19:619-633.
- Lundby C et al. Adaptations of skeletal muscle mitochondria to exercise training. Exp Physiol. 2016;101(1):17-22.
- Boengler K et al. Mitochondria “THE” target of myocardial conditioning. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2018;315(5):H1215-H1231.
- Magistretti PJ et al. A cellular perspective on brain energy metabolism and functional imaging. Neuron. 2015;86(4):883-901.
- Barbagallo F et al. Evaluation of sperm mitochondrial function: a key organelle for sperm motility. J Clin Med. 2020;9(2):363.
|Michael Stanclift, ND
Michael Stanclift, ND is a naturopathic doctor and senior medical writer at Metagenics. He graduated from Bastyr University’s school of naturopathic medicine and practiced in Edinburgh, Scotland, and Southern California. He enjoys educating other healthcare providers and impacting the lives of their many patients. When he’s not working, he spends his hours with his wife and two children.