Everyone wants to optimize their health and wellness, but how do you know which vitamins and minerals will actually support your health and which ones are better left on the shelf?
While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, some supplements do have more universal applications than others. In the right form, supplements like CoQ10 (sometimes called ubiquinol or ubiquinone) can be beneficial to everyone because they provide important antioxidants that can naturally decline in supply as we age. If you’re interested in learning more and find yourself asking “Should I take CoQ10?” there’s plenty to learn about this essential antioxidant.
What is CoQ10?
Coenzyme Q10, also known as CoQ10, is a powerful antioxidant produced by the mitochondria in our cells. As you might remember from high school biology, mitochondria are often called the “powerhouse of the cell” because they are responsible for producing the energy for almost all cellular processes in nearly all the cells in the body. Mitochondria make a product called ATP (adenosine triphosphate) from carbon found in the food we eat and the air we breathe, and this product provides power for cells, tissues, and organs. During this process called cellular respiration, free radicals are produced. CoQ10 which plays a role in cellular respiration also helps support the mitochondria by neutralizing free radicals as they are unstable and may cause cellular damage. CoQ10 helps support the mitochondria against the latter, as free radicals are unstable and may cause cellular damage. CoQ10’s function is to help provide a defensive barrier by lining the mitochondrial membrane and neutralizing excess free radicals, reducing the risk of causing damage within the cell.
What are free radicals?
Free radicals are natural by-products of cellular reactions like cellular respiration, in which mitochondria convert carbon into energy. These by-products usually consist of either an oxygen or nitrogen atom with an unpaired electron in the outer shell. This unpaired electron renders the free radical unstable, which causes them to try and “steal” electrons from nearby molecules in order to stabilize themselves. In the process of stealing electrons from other molecules, they can compromise the structural integrity of their target, which can lead to harmful effects to the cell. No molecules in the body are off limits, as free radicals target everything from fat to proteins to DNA. When free radicals outnumber antioxidants like CoQ10 in the body, they can cause a decline in mitochondrial health and potentially lead to oxidative stress.
What are antioxidants and why are they important?
Antioxidants are all the rage in health and wellness these days, but the hype surrounding them is well deserved. Antioxidants are responsible for supporting the health of cells by decreasing the harmful effects excess free radicals can have. Antioxidants help stabilize free radicals by providing the extra electron that they need, which in turn helps to mitigate damage to other molecules in the body. Our bodies produce some antioxidants naturally, including CoQ10, while others are ingested when we eat fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants that most people are familiar with include vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, selenium, manganese and zeaxanthin.
What is mitochondrial health?
Mitochondrial health is inextricably linked to our physical health, even though we rarely think about the health of such a tiny part of the cell. Mitochondrial health refers to the effectiveness of our mitochondria at completing cellular processes, such as providing our cells with the energy that we need to exercise, fight infection, recover and carry out all of the body’s major functions on a daily basis. When our mitochondrial health begins to decline, the body starts to spend more energy trying to heal itself from cellular damage than it does performing vital functions, and our health may begin to suffer. Changes and declines in mitochondrial health can occur for several reasons.
What causes mitochondrial health to decline?
There are several reasons why mitochondrial health may become compromised, but the most common one is aging. Aging is a fact of life no matter how well you take care of yourself, and the reality is that as we start to age, our bodies can begin to produce less CoQ10 while continuing to produce the same amount of free radicals. As the imbalance between free radicals and CoQ10 grows, the free radicals may cause adverse effects, including cellular and DNA damage in our tissues. Then, our bodies begin to spend extra energy and time fixing these issues, which means we have less energy for other important functions, such as immune system support. While none of us can change the fact we are aging, there are other factors that can also influence mitochondrial health, such as eating a diet high in fat, sugar or processed foods, not getting enough sleep and not exercising enough. The first signs of declining mitochondrial health may include increased feelings of sluggishness, brain fog and slower recovery, and eventually, other signs may begin to appear.
Signs of sub-optimal mitochondrial health
There are many different signs that your mitochondrial function may not be performing at its best and each person will experience this differently. Common signs of declining mitochondrial health include:
- Feeling tired or lacking energy
- Changes in mood
- Increased effects of aging
- Difficulty sleeping
- Diminished athletic performance and recovery
- Feeling stressed or anxious
- Mental clarity issues
How can a CoQ10 supplement help support mitochondrial health?
Our current health and wellness culture tells us that if we’re missing something from our diets, we can add it in the form of a vitamin or mineral supplement and the problem is solved. While we know that mitochondrial health is influenced by the levels of CoQ10 in the body and that a decline in CoQ10 levels often precedes a decline in mitochondrial health, adding a simple CoQ10 dietary supplement doesn’t necessarily improve mitochondrial health. However, the reason why might surprise you: it turns out that the body is not able to effectively absorb and use all types of CoQ10.
Not all CoQ10 supplements are created equal, and the way they are taken matters. CoQ10 is a large fat-soluble molecule that must be taken with food that contains oil or fatty acids, or it cannot be properly broken down by the body. Because our mitochondria have nearly impermeable membranes, the large size of CoQ10 molecules that are delivered from supplements means that very little of the CoQ10 ever makes it to the mitochondria, where this vital antioxidant is needed most. To solve this problem, our scientists in New Zealand began studying the effects of Coenzyme Q10. They made a breakthrough with CoQ10 absorption in the late 1990s when they discovered that mitochondria have a negative charge compared to the rest of the cell. They theorized that if the CoQ10 was attached to the right positively charged molecule and made smaller, it could be absorbed in a meaningful quantity. As a result, they developed the molecule mitoquinol mesylate, which is available as our world-first mitochondria-targeted antioxidant MitoQ. Our breakthrough ingredient enables a significant amount of CoQ10 to cross the mitochondrial barrier thanks to its smaller molecule size and positive charge. From inside the mitochondrial barrier, MitoQ is able to support the rebalancing of levels of CoQ10 and free radicals, which in turns supports mitochondrial health.
What benefits can I expect from effective CoQ10 supplementation?
Supplementing your diet with our advanced form of CoQ10 supports your mitochondrial health and performance, but what does that actually mean for your body? Improved mitochondrial health may result in increased energy production and endurance, faster recovery times, improvements to joint and muscle recovery after strenuous exercise and benefits to heart health and other organs. MitoQ customers report experiencing less stress, sleeping better, increased ability to focus and general improvements to wellbeing.
Should I take CoQ10?
Whether or not you choose to take a CoQ10 supplement is up to you but remember that regardless of how well you take care of yourself, levels of CoQ10 within your mitochondria can begin to decline as you get older. Because of its unique ability to be taken up into the mitochondria, MitoQ is effective with a dose of just 10 mg taken once per day, compared to general CoQ10 which is less effective even at doses of 200mg and higher. Taking 10 mg per day of highly absorbable MitoQ can help support physical performance, daily energy, mental focus, healthy aging, immunity and general health and wellbeing.