Coenzyme Q10: Supplement Sunday | Women's Health

Coenzyme Q10: Supplement Sunday | Women's Health

Leave a cut apple outside and half an hour later, you’ll see the pieces have turned brown. This is a simple process of oxidation that happens in nature. A similar process takes place inside our bodies too where the food we eat is oxidized to produce energy. As part of this redox reaction, free radicals (unstable molecules) are produced which can cause oxidative stress to our cells. 

Enter the superhero that helps our body fight these free radicals: antioxidants. One of the most common antioxidants found in our bodies is Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). Most healthy people have enough CoQ10 in their bodies as it is produced naturally. However, the levels of this antioxidant can decrease with age or due to certain medical conditions. This is where supplements can come into play. But before we go there, let’s understand a bit more about the role CoQ10 plays in keeping us healthy. 

Why we need CoQ10?

CoQ10 is found in every cell of our body and plays a vital role in energy production, and DNA replication and repair. Since the compound is so ubiquitous, health experts believe that it can have a major role to play in many diseases. In fact, it has been seen that low levels of CoQ10 is synonymous with some pathologies like heart diseases and a loss of brain function. 

It is due to these reasons that Coenzyme Q10 has been the topic of research for a while now and health experts are finding new evidence everyday to show how important this molecule is for our bodies. CoQ10 has been shown to be beneficial in treating many different health conditions. There is growing evidence that suggests that CoQ10 supplements can lower blood pressure by a small amount. This can be of help to patients who suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes, and related issues. 

CoQ10 has also been used to treat heart failure and other cardiac diseases. The use of this antioxidant can possibly help to improve some of the symptoms with cardiac diseases and perhaps lessen future cardiac risks. Of course, the supplements have to be combined with regular medications for it to be totally beneficial, and research on this is still on. 

Researchers are also looking at CoQ10 to see if there is any link between the antioxidant’s functions and the onset of Alzheimer’s disease in humans. It is also being studied as a possible cure for migraine headaches, Parkinson’s disease, muscular dystrophy, HIV, and many other pathologies. 

Most of the hype around CoQ10 centers around its supposed capability to reduce age-related degeneration. A study conducted in 2015  investigated the possible effect of a Mediterranean diet in combination with CoQ10 supplementation on the metabolism levels in elderly adults. It was seen that this combination led to an increase in antioxidant biomarkers in the urine. And as we all know, antioxidants can protect the body against free radical damage. Diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are known to have a link with high oxidative stress levels in the body, and CoQ10 is seen as a probable cure for such age-related degenerative diseases. 

It is also good to note that another study conducted in 2015 among older adults sought to measure the effects of CoQ10 and selenium supplements for 48 months. The participants of this study reported improvements in vitality, physical performance, and the overall quality of life.

Should you take CoQ10 supplements?

Coenzyme Q10 can be availed through diet, but the level of antioxidant found in food varies strongly and can be affected by cooking. Some of the most common dietary sources of CoQ10 include:

  • Cold water fish, like tuna, salmon, mackerel, and sardines
  • Cold pressed vegetable oils
  • Meat
  • Eggs, nuts, and whole grains

The factors that lower CoQ10 levels in the body include:

  • Age
  • Use of steroid medicines called statins; these are generally used as cholesterol blockers
  • Mitochondrial anomalies
  • Genetic mutations that affect the production of CoQ10

There is also no established ideal or recommended daily dose of CoQ10. A typical dose is about 100 to 200 milligrams a day, but this can vary depending on individual need. Some studies have used doses of up to 2000 milligrams per day without many side effects. 

Side effects from taking CoQ10 supplements tend to be marginal. A normally healthy person may experience some nausea or diarrhoea, or heartburn if they take a slightly higher dose. However, those who are already on medication should consult their doctor before taking any supplements containing CoQ10.

This is because the antioxidant can interfere with the functioning of blood thinners, thyroid medication, chemotherapy and other medications. It is therefore advised to take CoQ10 supplements only under medical supervision if you suffer from a pre-existing condition. Since it is such a new compound and is still being researched, doctors do not generally advise pregnant or lactating mothers to use CoQ10 supplements!

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