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Spotlight on CoQ10 - by Dr Nina Bailey BSc (Hons), MSc, PhD, RNutr

by Dr Nina Bailey BSc (Hons), MSc, PhD, RNutr

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a vitamin-like nutrient, essential for providing energy to cells. With its antioxidant properties, CoQ10 also protects cells by neutralising free radicals, thereby reducing oxidative stress in the body. This essential compound plays a vital role in our overall health and offers a wide array of benefits ranging from energy support and skin health to more intensive use in fertility support, heart health, and even for helping migraines and mood. Because low CoQ10 status is often seen in health conditions like cardiovascular and neurodegenerative disease, research is expanding into the use of supplemental CoQ10 to support a growing number of age-related health issues. In this article, we summarise the benefits of CoQ10, highlight the differences between CoQ10 supplements, and provide guidance on how to choose the most appropriate product and dose.


CoQ10 - UBIQUINOL AND UBIQUINONE

While CoQ10 is found in small amounts in meat, fish and nuts, the majority of CoQ10 is produced by the body. Production peaks between the ages of 20 to 30 years, after which levels steadily decline. [1] Both ubiquinol and ubiquinone are forms of CoQ10 that are found naturally in the body. In the ‘reduced’ form (ubiquinol), CoQ10 plays a direct role in energy production and provides antioxidant benefits that protect cell membranes from free radical attack. Once ubiquinol has ‘neutralised’ a free radical, it reverts to ubiquinone and is then recycled back to ubiquinol to 'reboot' CoQ10's antioxidant and energy-producing potential. 

THE HEALTH IMPACT OF LOW CoQ10 STATUS

As we age, not only does CoQ10 production slow down, but the recycling of ubiquinone to ubiquinol (which is driven by a complex of enzyme-mediated steps) becomes compromised. This means that CoQ10's energy and antioxidant capacities are reduced, which can have a direct impact on our health. The recycling process and levels of CoQ10 are also affected by other factors such as genetics, the use of certain medication, and various diseases where levels of inflammation are high. Unsurprisingly, low CoQ10 (most notably, decreased ubiquinol levels) are directly correlated to several age-related health issues. While CoQ10 supplements exist in both the ubiquinol and ubiquinone forms, emerging science tells us that in certain situations it may be more beneficial to supplement directly with ubiquinol to bypass the barriers associated with the recycling of ubiquinone supplements to ubiquinol. 

THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF CoQ10

CoQ10 for energy

Fatigue is a potentially debilitating symptom that occurs in both otherwise-healthy people and individuals living with chronic health issues. CoQ10 is found at peak levels within tiny powerhouses called mitochondria located within our cells. Mitochondria are responsible for generating the energy currency ‘ATP’ that is needed to drive all chemical processes that allow cells and organs to function optimally. CoQ10 plays a pivotal role in this energy-generating process; without it, mitochondria struggle to create ATP. Free radicals are a natural byproduct of ATP production; CoQ10, especially as ubiquinol, not only generates energy but as an antioxidant, also helps neutralise these free radicals at the site of production. If free radicals are allowed to accumulate they damage the delicate mitochondria, leading to a reduction in both their quality and numbers. This particularly affects organs with high energy requirements, such as the heart and brain. Not surprisingly, mitochondrial 'dysfunction' can be linked to both cardiovascular and neurodegenerative disease [2], however, the key symptom that tells us our mitochondria are not functioning optimally and/or their numbers are reduced, is fatigue. CoQ10 supplements can be used to essentially ‘feed’ the mitochondria. Supplementation can also help relieve fatigue in those individuals living with chronic conditions [3] and can even be a useful add-on for improving sports performance where energy requirements are highest. [4] 

CoQ10 for heart health

The cardiac muscle is packed with mitochondria, and so the heart’s CoQ10 demands are especially high. The combined benefits of CoQ10 for cardiovascular health include the support of heart function, antioxidant activity, blood pressure control, and managing cholesterol levels, making it an ideal heart health supplement. The body produces CoQ10 via the same biological pathway as cholesterol; if this pathway is blocked by cholesterol-reducing drugs (statins), CoQ10 production is also compromised. [5] For this reason, boosting CoQ10 with supplements can be particularly beneficial for those taking a pharmaceutical approach to managing cholesterol.

CoQ10 for diabetes

People with diabetes have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and neurological issues (diabetic neuropathy is a common complication). Oxidative stress contributes to the development and progression of diabetes and its complications, so CoQ10's antioxidant properties may help protect nerves from damage caused by raised blood sugar levels. CoQ10 supplementation can also improve insulin sensitivity in individuals with type 2 diabetes, leading to better blood sugar control. [5]

CoQ10 for brain health

- Cognition

Oxidative stress and neuronal damage are linked to various neurodegenerative conditions, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. CoQ10 supplementation enhances energy production in brain cells, which is beneficial for cognitive function and, by protecting neurons from oxidative damage and degeneration, boosting CoQ10 levels is particularly relevant to prevention of neurodegenerative disorders. [6]

- Migraine

CoQ10 may offer relief to migraine sufferers. Studies have shown that CoQ10 supplementation can reduce both the frequency and severity of migraine attacks by helping to regulate serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in migraine development, and as such CoQ10's influence on serotonin may be key to its migraine-relieving benefits. [7, 8]

- Mood

For similar reasons, and given that serotonin imbalances are implicated in depression, studies also support CoQ10's mood-promoting benefits. Oxidative stress and inflammation can lead to imbalances in neurotransmitter production and function and it is believed that CoQ10's antidepressant properties are linked to antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, as well as regulating serotonin levels in the brain. [9]

CoQ10 for fertility

The age at which couples choose to start a family has changed over time and it is estimated that one in six older couples will experience some difficulty in conceiving. [10] Oxidative stress in semen and oocytes (eggs) correlates with both increasing age and infertility. Making dietary changes to reduce the burden of oxidative stress can help increase the chance of conception. [11] Fertility-friendly foods include those that are naturally rich in antioxidants, including fruit and vegetables. CoQ10 is a very significant antioxidant when considering fertility health because higher levels are directly linked to the development, maturation, and overall quality of sperm and oocytes. However, at an average daily dietary intake of between 3-5mg, it is challenging to incorporate adequate amounts of this valuable nutrient via diet alone. Supplements, in contrast, offer a convenient way to boost levels above those that diet can provide. Depending on the formation type, CoQ10 supplements, often used at doses as high as 600mg daily, have been shown to improve egg and sperm quality, and lead to higher pregnancy rates. [12, 13]

CoQ10 for beauty

Skin ageing occurs because the skin (our outermost organ) is always directly exposed to environmental insults. Attack by the sun's UV rays is the key source of skin-damaging free radicals and a main player in premature skin ageing (photo-ageing). Topical CoQ10 ‘beauty’ products are often marketed for their ability to improve skin tone, reduce sun damage, and improve skin health; CoQ10 supplements may also provide a way to boost antioxidant protection against skin damage. Taking CoQ10 offers body-wide benefits, and by accumulating within the outermost layer of skin – the epidermis [14] - this valuable nutrient may also provide additional anti-ageing benefits for more youthful-looking skin. [15]

CoQ10 DOSING

The average range of blood CoQ10 levels is around 0.6 to 0.8µg/mL. Reaching the CoQ10 blood plasma level of 2.5µg/mL is required to offer significant benefits for heart health and 3.5µg/mL is required for neuroprotective benefits. [16] When using standard, poorly-absorbed CoQ10, doses of up to 600mg are often needed to achieve the blood plasma level needed for significant positive health outcomes. [16]

All CoQ10 raw materials occur in the structural form of large water-insoluble crystals that are poorly absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract. [1] Providing crystalline CoQ10 in an oil-based capsule offers a small benefit in absorption, but adopting formulation methods that solubilise crystals to overcome this major absorption barrier is vital if the finished product is to deliver benefits.

The Igennus range of supplements boasts two crystal-free formulas, CoQsol-CF® CoQ10 (as ubiquinone) and VESIsorb® Ubiquinol-QH CoQ10 (as ubiquinol). These crystal-free formulas have been clinically demonstrated to raise CoQ10 levels effectively and to the thresholds needed for positive health outcomes without the need for costly mega-dosing required to overcome the poor absorption of standard supplements.

 
CHOOSING A CoQ10 SUPPLEMENT TO SUPPORT YOUR HEALTH NEEDS

CoQsol-CF CoQ10

A 100mg dose of CoQsol-CF CoQ10 raises CoQ10 levels to 2.68µg/mL, twice that of a 100mg dose of standard crystalline CoQ10. By meeting the ~2.5 µg/mL threshold for heart health, CoQsol-CF CoQ10 offers significant health benefits over standard supplements of much higher doses. It also stays active for longer, leading to 5x greater bioavailability. [17]

VESIsorb Ubiquinol-QH

VESIsorb is a lipid-based crystal-free formulation that increases the bioavailability of ubiquinol by mimicking the natural micellular absorption pathway used to absorb fat across the water barrier that lines the gut. Ubiquinol is naturally more absorbable than ubiquinone and a single 100mg dose of VESIsorb Ubiquinol-QH raises CoQ10 levels to an unprecedented 5.76µg/mL, twice the blood plasma level of CoQsol-CF CoQ10. Similar to CoQsol-CF CoQ10, VESIsorb Ubiquinol-QH has a high retention time, and its high peak levels and 6x greater bioavailability [18] makes it the ideal intensive and neurocognitive support product.


CoQ10 blood plasma levels following a 100mg doses of standard (crystalline) CoQ10 vs 100mg CoQsol CoQ10 vs 100mg VESIsorb Ubiquinol-QH [adapted from references [17 & 18].


CoQsol-CF CoQ10 100mg or VESIsorb UBIQUINOL-QH 100mg?

CoQsol-CF CoQ10 100mg is suitable as a daily supplement for healthy individuals wishing to sustain the healthy CoQ10 levels required for optimal health. We recommend one softgel daily for general support or, for additional support, 2 softgels daily as a split dose.

✓ <50 year

✓ Anti-ageing benefits

✓ Energy support

✓ Antioxidant support

✓ General cardiovascular support

✓ Sports nutrition

✓ Fertility support <35 years


VESIsorb Ubiquinol-QH
 is more suitable as an intensive support product for those over 50 or with chronic health issues, where ubiquinol levels are compromised due to poor recycling of ubiquinone to ubiquinol. We recommend one softgel daily, or for intensive clinical support 2 softgels daily as a split dose.

✓ >50 years

✓ Intensive neurocognitive support

✓ Intensive cardiovascular support

✓ Chronic fatigue

✓ Fertility support >35 years



RISKS/CONTRAINDICATIONS OF CoQ10 SUPPLEMENTATION

No serious side effects of CoQ10 have been reported, and these supplements can be used daily, long-term. Only at above-recommended doses are mild side effects such as insomnia or digestive upsets occasionally experienced. CoQ10 may interfere with pharmaceutical blood thinners and may lower blood pressure. While the latter may be favourable in some cases, we would advise speaking with a health care practitioner before taking CoQ10 if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, taking medication or have an underlying health issue. 

SUMMARY

CoQ10 is a remarkable nutrient with a wide range of benefits for health and well-being. Unfortunately, the majority of CoQ10 products on the market offer low bioavailability and therefore disappointing outcomes. CoQsol-CF CoQ10 100mg and VESIsorb Ubiquinol-QH's crystal-free formulas offer ideal solutions to raise CoQ10 status, whatever your health needs, using just one convenient 100mg softgel daily.

 

REFERENCES

1. Mantle et al. Coenzyme Q10, Ageing and the Nervous System: An Overview. Antioxidants (Basel). 2021 Dec 21;11(1):2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35052506/

2. Office For National Statistics https://shorturl.at/sPVX0

3. Smits et al. Antioxidants in fertility: impact on male and female reproductive outcomes.

Fertil Steril. 2018 Sep;110(4):578-580. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30196940/

4. Florou et al. Does coenzyme Q10 supplementation improve fertility outcomes in women undergoing assisted reproductive technology procedures? A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized-controlled trials. J Assist Reprod Genet. 2020 Oct;37(10):2377-2387. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32767206/

5. Alahmar. The impact of two doses of coenzyme Q10 on semen parameters and antioxidant status in men with idiopathic oligoasthenoteratozoospermia Clin Exp Reprod Med. 2019 Sep;46(3):112-118. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31408928/

6. Sorrentino et al. Repairing Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Disease. Annu Rev Pharmacol Toxicol. 2018 Jan 6;58:353-389. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28961065/

7. Tsai et al. Effectiveness of Coenzyme Q10 Supplementation for Reducing Fatigue: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Front Pharmacol. 2022 Aug 24;13:883251. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36091835/

8. Drobnic et al. Coenzyme Q10 Supplementation and Its Impact on Exercise and Sport Performance in Humans: A Recovery or a Performance-Enhancing Molecule? Nutrients. 2022 Apr 26;14(9):1811.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9104583/

9. Spindler et al. Coenzyme Q10 effects in neurodegenerative disease. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2009;5:597-610. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2785862/

10. Zeng et al. Efficacy of CoQ10 as supplementation for migraine: A meta-analysis. Acta Neurol Scand. 2019 Mar;139(3):284-293. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30428123/

11. Aggarwal et. al. Serotonin and CGRP in migraine. Ann Neurosci. 2012 Apr;19(2):88-94. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25205974/

12. Alcocer-Gómez et al. Coenzyme q10 regulates serotonin levels and depressive symptoms in fibromyalgia patients: results of a small clinical trial. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2014 Apr;34(2):277-8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24525646/

13. Zozina et al. Coenzyme Q10 in Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases: Current State of the Problem. Curr Cardiol Rev. 2018;14(3):164-174. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29663894/

14. Ashida et al. CoQ10 supplementation elevates the epidermal CoQ10 level in adult hairless mice. Biofactors. 2005;25(1-4):175-8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16873943/

15. Žmitek et al. The effect of dietary intake of coenzyme Q10 on skin parameters and condition: Results of a randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind study. Biofactors. 2017 Jan 2;43(1):132-140. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27548886/

16. Langsjoen & Langsjoen Supplemental ubiquinol in patients with advanced congestive heart failure. Biofactors. 2008;32(1-4):119-28. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19096107/

17. Judy. The Single-dose Absorption and Steady-state Bioavailability of Different Coenzyme Q10 Formulations. Integrative Medicine, Vol. 21, No. 1, February 2022 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35431689/

18. Liu ZX, Artmann C.Relative bioavailability comparison of different coenzyme Q10 formulations with a novel delivery system. Altern Ther Health Med. 2009 15:42-6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19284181/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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