The body has millions of different molecules that it relies on to survive and function. Some of those molecules like carbohydrates and vitamins need to be consumed through the diet while others can be produced by the body. Molecules that can only be obtained through diet are termed essential nutrients while those that can be derived within the body are usually referred to as nonessential, even though you definitely still need them to be healthy!
While the body can make certain molecules, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the levels are always as they should be.
Coenzyme Q10 is an important molecule for the human body, but levels naturally decrease with age, among other factors. Coenzyme Q10, also known as CoQ10, is a molecule that plays a large role in the cellular metabolism of sugars into the cellularly relevant ATP.
Certain conditions like advanced age, smoking, heart problems, and taking certain medications can decrease CoQ10 levels. CoQ10 can be consumed to help increase levels in your body, whether that be through your diet or supplementation.
Below is a look at why CoQ10 matters, as well as foods and supplements that can help to restore adequate levels of CoQ10 within the body. Having proper CoQ10 levels can help you to support your cellular health, which allows you to have a greater sense of wellbeing.
The functions of CoQ10
The body is composed of hundreds of different tissues and structures. Adipose, neurons, sarcomeres, and epithelium are just a few of the different cells that make up the body. To add even more complexity to an already complex organism, each cell contains many different cellular components.
One cellular component that is vital to nearly all tissues within the body is the mitochondria. The mitochondria are the cellular component that provides energy for each cell. CoQ10 is a vital component of the mitochondria and plays two important roles within the structure. Below is a closer look at the two functions CoQ10 plays within the cell.
Electron transport chain
The mitochondria need a glucose molecule and oxygen to produce ATP. This process is known as cellular respiration and it’s why you require oxygen and food to survive. While this process may seem simple, in reality, the entire process takes many steps to occur.
The process begins when glucose enters the cell. Within the cellular matrix, glucose is broken down into a shorter carbohydrate chain known as pyruvate. Pyruvate then enters into the mitochondria where it is broken down carbon by carbon.
Each carbon bond contains energy, and that energy is utilized to form other energy-dense molecules. These energy-dense molecules are then cashed in through the electron transport chain which through a series of steps yields ATP that the cell can use for energy.
The electron transport chain can be thought of as a currency exchange. The energy molecules produced by the breakdown of glucose deposit their electrons which pump protons into the mitochondrial inner membrane space.
From there, a protein acts as a pressure release valve and releases protons from their high concentration while simultaneously creating ATP.
CoQ10 plays a pivotal role in the ETC as it is found within the membrane and acts as an electron shuttle. The movement of electrons through the ETC is vital and is why CoQ10 is important.
CoQ10 also plays an important role in protecting the cell from oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is caused by molecules known as reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are chemically unstable. The instability drives these molecules to seek out an electron to establish stability, but this comes at the cost of the structure the electron is stolen from.
ROS molecules are naturally found within the mitochondria. These molecules occur naturally, yet they typically do not cause issues thanks to CoQ10.
CoQ10 acts to protect the cell by acting as an antioxidant. Essentially, CoQ10 can protect both the mitochondrial from degradation due to oxidative damage.
For the mitochondria, this is important, as a damaged membrane could lead to proton leakage, which could decrease the rate of ATP production.
Foods with CoQ10
CoQ10 is undoubtedly an important molecule, and as with any important molecule, it is important to know of ways you can ensure your body has enough of it to sustain a healthy life.
Below is a closer look at some foods that naturally contain CoQ10.
Beef is a food item that is consumed in relatively high quantities in the Western diet. While many people may consume beef in the form of steak or burgers, beef liver and heart specifically contain the highest quantity of CoQ10. While for most people this is out of the realm of their culinary comfort zone, adding beef organs to your diet could help to increase your intake of the vital antioxidant molecule. While cooking can decrease available CoQ10, it still provides a healthy amount of CoQ10.
Fish is another source of CoQ10 that can help to increase your dietary consumption. Unlike beef, to get the most out of fish you don’t need to eat different fish organs to seek out the benefits — you just need to eat the right fish. Having about three ounces of herring can get you around 2.3 mg of CoQ10 while 3 ounces of rainbow trout can get you 1 mg.
The story is very similar for chicken — having 3 ounces of chicken can get you upwards of 1.3 mg of CoQ10. Enjoy chicken on a salad, as the main course, or even indulge with some fried chicken — chicken is undoubtedly the easiest way to sprinkle even a little more CoQ10 into your diet.
If you are a vegetarian or are simply looking for plant-based alternative sources of CoQ10, you are in luck because there are plant oils that contain CoQ10.
Soybean and canola oil top the list, containing up to 1.3 and 1 mg of CoQ10 per tablespoon, respectively.
It is important to note that while these oils contain CoQ10 naturally, it doesn’t necessarily correlate to the amount you are able to get. Cooking with these oils which is the most common ways they are utilized can decrease the amount of CoQ10 present.
Another vegetarian-friendly source of CoQ10 is nuts and seeds. Peanuts, sesame seeds, and pistachios are all sources of CoQ10.
Per ounce, these nuts will get you less than 1 mg of CoQ10, but if you have them in between meals, they can help to increase dietary CoQ10.
You can also add them to existing meals like a chicken salad to incrementally increase the CoQ10 that you get through your diet. With an excellent source of protein and nutrients, nuts and seeds can give you a little nutritional boost to help you feel more satiated and less hungry while simultaneously increasing your CoQ10 intake.
Vegetables are also a natural source of CoQ10. While vegetables are far from offering your daily need for CoQ10, they can be added to nearly any dish and confer many other health benefits such as high nutrient content. Some of the vegetables with CoQ10 include broccoli and cauliflower.
Why supplement CoQ10?
You have most likely heard at some point or another that you should attempt to get your dietary needs through your diet. This statement is undoubtedly true, but some molecules are quite elusive to get through diet alone. This is particularly true of CoQ10.
If you look at the standard dose of CoQ10, it can range from 100 mg - 200 mg. Based upon how much is contained in each food outlined above, it is easy to see that it is nearly impossible to get this amount of CoQ10 through diet alone.
One thing to note is that the dose is seemingly large with CoQ10 supplements — this is because CoQ10 generally has a difficult time absorbing into the body. Much of the supplement is excreted through the body’s waste system and only a small portion of it is actually taken up into the cell.
MitoQ solves this problem by modifying the CoQ10 molecule and adding a positive charge. The positive charge and smaller molecule size allows it to readily cross cell and mitochondrial membranes where it can confer the most cellular benefit.
When MitoQ is in the mitochondria, it helps to support the organelle in its constant battle with reactive oxygen species. With MitoQ’s superb ability to enter the mitochondria, the dose is shrunk to nearly 10 mg per day which allows you more freedom and less time to take your morning supplements.
In most instances, MitoQ can replace a standard CoQ10 supplement but you should check with your healthcare provider if CoQ10 was prescribed.
In closing, there are a number of different foods that contain CoQ10. The unfortunate fact is that it is incredibly difficult to get a significant amount of CoQ10 through diet alone. Foods with the most CoQ10 include food items like beef liver and beef heart which for many are out of their dietary comfort zones.
Supplementation of CoQ10 is a good option, but it is important to decide on the right product for you and your needs.
MitoQ is highly absorbed into the mitochondria, up to 1000 times more readily than standard CoQ10. With higher absorption and over 500 peer-reviewed papers, MitoQ is one of the best choices to promote your health from the cellular level and up.