For many people, the aging process comes with appearance and health concerns. Some people may turn to skincare products or consider plastic surgery procedures as countermeasures, but the key to aging and its effects on the body actually comes from within.
There seems to be a disconnect between aging and our cellular health. There shouldn’t be, the two are intrinsically linked.
It’s no secret anymore that diet plays a major role in our overall health and wellbeing, and a healthy, well-balanced diet is one that is full of vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients. Perhaps you’ve heard of antioxidants and you know you need them in your diet, but you aren’t exactly clear on what antioxidants are or why they are so important.
One antioxidant that can help support the aging process from within is CoQ10, also known as ubiquinol or ubiquinone. This antioxidant is naturally produced by the body, but over time, we may produce less and less and begin to show signs of aging. So, what does CoQ10 do for the body and how might it help you better manage the aging process?
What are antioxidants?
Antioxidants act to support the cells in the body as well as the mitochondria within our cells. Antioxidants that are produced naturally inside the body, including CoQ10, are called endogenous antioxidants, while antioxidants that are produced by foods we eat are called phytonutrients. Both types of antioxidants are important, so eating a healthy, balanced diet is critical to maintaining optimal cellular health. As we age, our bodies may slow down the production of CoQ10 but free radicals are still being produced. Free radicals are naturally unstable and can cause damage to the cells and mitochondria in this state, so antioxidants are responsible for seeking out the free radicals and stabilizing them by providing the missing electron that the free radical is seeking and turning it into a stable atom. Once they have been stabilized, free radicals are no longer a threat to other molecules within the cell, which is why antioxidants are so important. Although you might think that you aren’t familiar with any antioxidants, you’ve likely heard of some of the most common, which include vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, selenium, manganese, and zeaxanthin.
What are free radicals?
It might seem strange to think that the body produces substances that can actually cause it harm under certain circumstances, but this is the case with free radicals. One of the most essential functions of the cell, cellular respiration, produces free radicals as a by-product of cellular reactions. The cellular respiration process occurs when our mitochondria, the “powerhouses” of the cell, convert the food we eat and the air we breathe into a substance called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. Our organs, tissues, and cells all depend on ATP for fuel to allow the body to function properly, but free radicals are produced as a waste product of this process.
Free radicals are unstable molecules that often consist of an oxygen or nitrogen atom with an unpaired electron in their outer shell, so they are constantly searching for a molecule with an extra electron to “steal.” This might not seem like a big deal, but when free radicals steal electrons from neighboring molecules, the cells can be irreparably damaged, which can cause serious consequences over time. No cell in the body is immune to damage caused by free radicals, including fat, protein, DNA, and more, which is what makes antioxidants like CoQ10 so important.
What is CoQ10 and what does it do for the body?
Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, is an antioxidant that is naturally produced by our mitochondria and has many health benefits. CoQ10 plays a very important role in your body and has two primary functions: helping to protect the mitochondria and supporting our metabolism and energy production. The mitochondria produce 90% of the energy our body needs to function, so it is critical that they function as effectively and efficiently as possible in order to provide our bodies with the energy we need to carry out life functions like exercising, digesting food, breathing, and fighting infection. CoQ10 helps to provide a secure, defensive barrier that lines the mitochondrial membrane and supports the mitochondria. This barrier can neutralize free radicals before they are able to infiltrate the mitochondria and potentially cause damage.
What happens if we do not have enough antioxidants?
There is a fine balance between antioxidants and free radicals. This balance ensures there are enough antioxidants to stabilize the free radicals, helping to prevent cellular damage and keep the aging process at bay.
As we age, the amount of CoQ10 that is produced by our bodies may begin to decline, while free radicals are still being produced. Sometimes, we are able to supplement our antioxidant supply with healthy foods like fruits and vegetables as well as other healthy lifestyle choices, but there is simply no avoiding the aging process. Lifestyle factors like unhealthy dietary sources, not getting enough sleep, or not getting enough exercise can exacerbate the imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals, but aging is the biggest reason why we may begin to see a decline in our mitochondrial health.
A condition called oxidative stress occurs when the body has too many free radicals and not enough antioxidants to help protect us against them, because the antioxidants cannot counteract the cellular damage caused by free radicals quickly enough. Oxidative Stress is associated with premature signs of aging such as wrinkles and skin discoloration. Oxidative stress is not always a bad thing; our bodies move into a temporary state of oxidative stress during exercise in order to help us perform at a higher level. However, oxidative stress can become a problem when it is experienced over an extended period of time or at a particularly high level. When people experience chronic oxidative stress, they are at increased risk for a number of health conditions. Poor mitochondrial health is often indicated by prolonged oxidative stress.
What causes changes in mitochondrial health?
Mitochondrial health refers to the ability of the mitochondria to work efficiently and to produce the energy that we need to carry out the major life functions each day, like digesting food, fighting infection, recovering, and breathing. Mitochondrial health is largely influenced by aging and may begin to decline when the production of CoQ10 decreases. The imbalance between CoQ10 and free radicals means that free radicals are potentially able to cause more damage to our cells and the CoQ10 is unable to adequately support defense. While age is the biggest contributor to declining mitochondrial health, 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.
What are some early signs of declining mitochondrial health?
There are many different symptoms of declining mitochondrial health, and each person experiences the symptoms differently. Common signs of declining mitochondrial health include:
- Feeling tired or lacking energy
- Diminished athletic performance and recovery
- Feeling stressed or anxious
- Mental clarity issues
- Can CoQ10 help improve mitochondrial health?
Fortunately, it is possible to supplement our natural CoQ10 levels as we age in order to help support mitochondrial health. That does not mean that all CoQ10 supplements are created equal, however.
The use of CoQ10 supplements often utilize an extremely large molecule size that is too big to permeate the mitochondrial membrane. This means that despite the body receiving an adequate amount of CoQ10, it could not absorb or use the additional antioxidants. Our scientists in New Zealand were the first to develop a new kind of CoQ10 dietary supplement that could be absorbed in a meaningful fashion.
Fat soluble molecules like CoQ10 need to be taken with food that contains oil or fatty acids, and CoQ10 specifically must be attached to a positively charged molecule in order to permeate the negatively charged mitochondria and be sufficiently absorbed. The formula that resulted from MitoQ scientist’s groundbreaking research reduced the molecule size of CoQ10 and applied a positive charge that allows the supplement to breach the mitochondrial membrane.
Once inside the mitochondria, the additional CoQ10 may help rebalance the levels of antioxidants and free radicals inside the cell and helps support mitochondrial health. When the imbalance between CoQ10 and free radicals is corrected, oxidative stress can be reduced and premature aging may diminish.
MitoQ’s Coenzyme Q10 supplementation offers an excellent opportunity to support your overall health, with many positive effects of CoQ10 supplementation including supporting mental focus and healthy aging, maintaining general wellbeing, and sustaining energy levels.