With so many different supplements on the market, it can be difficult to determine which vitamins and minerals you actually need to support your health and which ones are unnecessary. Once you’ve narrowed down the areas where you might have deficiencies in your diet, how do you know the appropriate dose of each supplement? In particular, there’s a significant information gap on supplementing with CoQ10, as previous information regarding the correct dosage has changed throughout the years. If you’re one of many people wondering “How much CoQ10 should I take?,” you’re not alone, and the answer may surprise you.
What is CoQ10?
Coenzyme Q10, also known as CoQ10, is a naturally occurring antioxidant that’s produced in the cells by the mitochondria, often referred to as the “powerhouse of the cell”. Mitochondria are responsible for producing the energy for almost all cellular processes in nearly all the cells in the body, which they do by converting the oxygen you breathe and food you eat. CoQ10, a defensive antioxidant that protects the mitochondria from excess free radicals, a by-product of energy production, which can be damaging to cells but also play an important role in metabolism. CoQ10 lines the mitochondrial membrane, providing a secure, defensive barrier that neutralizes excess free radicals, providing protection during the essential process of energy production and preventing free radicals from causing damage within the cell.
What are antioxidants (and why are they important)?
Antioxidants like CoQ10 can occur both naturally and artificially, and their main job is to help prevent or decrease damage to cells that can be caused by excess free radicals. Free radicals are considered unstable because they are missing an electron from their molecular structure, which leaves them seeking an additional electron to “steal” from another molecule. Antioxidants provide the extra electron that free radicals need, turning the free radical into a stable molecule and preventing damage to other molecules within the cell. Antioxidants can be produced inside the body or be ingested as supplements or in the foods we eat. Many antioxidants come from fruits and vegetables, especially those that are brightly colored, like blueberries, spinach, and broccoli. Antioxidants that most people are familiar with include substances like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, selenium, manganese, and zeaxanthin.
What are free radicals?
Antioxidants are important because they help to neutralize and stabilize excess free radicals, but what is it about free radicals that makes them so problematic? Free radicals are produced as a waste product of cellular reactions, including cellular respiration, which is the cell’s energy production process. Cellular respiration uses the mitochondria of the cell to convert carbon from food and oxygen into energy for the cells, organs, and tissues to function, which is why we call the mitochondria the “powerhouse” of the cell. Although cellular respiration is a process that is essential to life, the process also causes the production of free radicals. Some free radicals are a good thing but when there are too many free radicals produced and not enough CoQ10 problems start arising. Free radicals are waste products produced by the cell which generally consist of an oxygen or nitrogen atom with an unpaired electron in their outer shell. The unpaired electron makes free radicals highly unstable, so they work to “steal” electrons from nearby molecules in order to stabilize themselves. By “stealing” an electron from a nearby molecule, the structure of the molecule can be compromised and damaged, which can impact everything from fat to proteins to DNA.
What is mitochondrial health?
We don’t often think about the health of our mitochondria as critical to our physical health, but the two are inextricably linked. Mitochondrial health refers to the ability of our mitochondria to work at maximum efficiency, providing our cells with the energy that we need to exercise, fight infection, recover and carry out all of the major life functions on a daily basis. Because the mitochondria are the powerhouses of cells, mitochondrial health is critical to ensuring our bodies perform each of the processes that keep us in optimal health. Changes and declines in mitochondrial health can occur for several reasons...
What causes mitochondrial health to decline?
Like most major systems of the body, mitochondrial health can decline as we age, and in fact this can be the primary factor impacting mitochondrial health. In our youth and early adulthood, our mitochondria produce CoQ10 and free radicals in equal amounts, but as we start to age, we can begin to produce less CoQ10 yet continue to produce the same amount of free radicals. As a result, we can begin to experience CoQ10 deficiency, which allows the free radicals to cause adverse effects such as cellular and DNA damage in our human tissues. Although this can happen naturally as we age, mitochondrial health is influenced by more than just aging. Lifestyle factors, including eating a diet high in fat, sugar or processed foods, not getting enough sleep and not exercising enough can also cause a decline in mitochondrial health. We first begin to notice the evidence of a decline in mitochondrial health as increased feelings of sluggishness and slower recovery, but over time this can impact health and performance.
What are the signs of a decline in mitochondrial health?
While everyone experiences a decline in mitochondrial health differently, there are some common symptoms that indicate that your mitochondria may be suffering. Common signs include:
- Feeling tired or lacking energy
- Experiencing hormonal mood swings
- Unexplained weight gain or blood sugar fluctuations
- Diminished athletic performance and recovery
- Aging skin
- Increased effects of aging
- Feeling stressed or anxious
- Difficulty sleeping
- Issues with the heart, blood pressure, or circulation
- Diminished mental focus
Many of the above signs can simply be factors of aging, but did you know it’s possible to improve mitochondrial health regardless of age? Although our mitochondrial health can be impacted in large part by our age, it can also be attributed to a number of lifestyle factors that can be controlled. When mitochondrial health is improved, many of the above symptoms are abated, allowing individuals to look and feel younger and more vital.
How can we improve our mitochondrial health?
As previously established, mitochondrial health is influenced by lifestyle factors such as diet, the amount of exercise we do, how much sleep we get, exposure to external aggressors such as pollution, smoking, alcohol consumption and more. Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, exercising regularly at a moderate to vigorous effort level several days a week and getting enough sleep will go a long way towards ensuring your mitochondrial health, as will quitting smoking, avoiding excessive unprotected sun exposure, cutting back on alcohol consumption, reducing your exposure to environmental toxins and maintaining a healthy weight. Unfortunately, no matter how healthy your lifestyle is, your mitochondria can still decline with age. Adding a nutritional supplement that includes CoQ10 can help support mitochondrial health and immune system function. Improving mitochondrial health can also improve your overall health by increasing energy levels, slowing cellular aging, boosting physical performance, promoting better sleep, increasing organ support, supporting clarity and mental focus and promoting healthier and more vibrant skin. Mitochondrial health truly touches every aspect of the human body and how we feel on a daily basis.
How does a CoQ10 supplement help improve mitochondrial health?
We know that mitochondrial health is influenced by the levels of CoQ10 in the body and that a decline in CoQ10 levels can lead to a decline in mitochondrial health, so shouldn’t adding a CoQ10 supplement improve mitochondrial health? The reality is a bit more complicated than that. Scientists initially thought that adding a simple CoQ10 dietary supplement would improve mitochondrial health, but studies and clinical trials have shown that this isn’t the case because mitochondria aren’t able to effectively absorb this type of CoQ10.
CoQ10 is a large fat-soluble molecule that must be taken with food that contains oil or fatty acids. The size of the CoQ10 molecule means that little of the supplement actually makes it into the mitochondria because our mitochondria have impermeable membranes. We know that the CoQ10 is most needed in the mitochondria, so the question became how to effectively deliver CoQ10 to this part of the cell. Scientists in New Zealand made a breakthrough with CoQ10 absorption in the late 1990s when they discovered that because mitochondria have a negative charge, CoQ10 needed to be attached to a positively charged molecule in order to be sufficiently absorbed. They created a new formula, sold today as MitoQ, that enables it to cross the mitochondrial barrier thanks to its smaller molecule size and positive charge, allowing the supplement to breach the mitochondrial membrane. MitoQ is able to begin improving mitochondrial health by rebalancing the levels of CoQ10 and free radicals inside the cell and helping to protect from free radical damage. In fact, MitoQ is absorbed into the mitochondria up to 1,000 times better than regular CoQ10.
How much CoQ10 should I take?
Conventional wisdom states that the body needs high levels of CoQ10 supplementation because so little of the supplement is able to penetrate the mitochondrial membrane. Fortunately, MitoQ’s highly absorbable formula means that people can use less than ten times the normal CoQ10 concentrations and still receive greater benefits to their mitochondrial health. While traditional supplements might recommend taking 500 to 1200 mg of CoQ10 per day, MitoQ is effective in a dose of just 10 mg taken once per day. Taking 10 mg per day of highly absorbable MitoQ can help maintain general health and wellbeing, support mental focus, support healthy aging, sustain energy levels and help overall cellular and human health for added resilience and vitality.
What benefits can I expect from clever CoQ10 supplementation?
In addition to optimizing mitochondrial performance by taking an enhanced form of CoQ10 supplement like MitoQ, you’re likely to notice increased energy, endurance, recovery times and benefits to muscle and joint recuperation after strenuous exercise. Some people also experience less stress, better sleep, improved heart health, increased ability to focus. How quickly you’ll notice the health benefits of clever CoQ10 supplementation like this will vary depending on your age, fitness, overall health and the level of damage currently occurring within your cells. While some people notice improvement quickly, it may take others up to three months to feel the full effects of supplementation as the cells and organ systems begin to recover and rejuvenate. Some people may not experience a noticeable difference that they can feel, but rest assured, the MitoQ is working inside your body to help support cellular health and optimize performance whether you can feel it or not. While there’s no substitute for living a healthy lifestyle and making smart choices, supplementing your diet with CoQ10 in the form of MitoQ can boost mitochondrial health, support cellular performance and rejuvenate your cellular systems as you age.
Reviewed by William Stow/ BSc (Hons), MitoQ Chief Science Officer