No doubt you’ve heard of CoEnzyme Q10 (CoQ10). It’s been around for a long time and the continually growing body of research surrounding it often focuses on its cardiovascular benefits.
CoQ10 is made throughout the body and because of its ‘ubiquitous’ distribution, it’s also known as Ubiquinone.
CoQ10 is found concentrated inside the mitochondria, or ‘powerhouses’ of the cells where it plays a vital role in the creation of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the body’s energy ‘currency’.
One area of intense research into CoQ10 is the heart – some of the most energy-dependent tissue in the body (the heart never gets a rest!), cardiac muscle cells contain some of the highest concentrations of Coq10 in the body. Several studies have shown benefit from the enzyme in cardiac-related disease, such as angina, hypertension, heart attacks, and most recently heart failure.
It's associated with improved blood flow and function of the arteries (flexibility) in people with certain heart conditions. And, it can improve a person's ability to exercise after a heart attack.
Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs are notorious for inhibiting the body’s creation of Coq10, and people taking statins are encouraged to supplement with Coq10. This can improve energy and decrease muscle aches and pains in people using statin medications.
CoQ10 for Athletes:
Newer research looking at Coq10’s benefits for athletes also supports its role in this population. Back to the energy-producing benefits, Coq10 is being researched for its energy-restorative capabilities in endurance athletes.
A recent example of this showed that in trained athletes, supplementing with Coq10 led to a slight, yet statistically significant increase in power production compared to a placebo. You can learn more by reading Journal of the International Society of Sports Medicine.
Older athletes stand to gain the most from supplementing with Coq10, as aging reduces the numbers of mitochondria in the cells and in turn amounts of Coq10. Higher amounts of Coq10 in fewer mitochondria may compensate for their lower numbers.
Heavy exercise creates oxidation in the body, and supplementing with CoQ10 may reduce markers of oxidative damage in the body. Similarly, users may also have a slight decrease in markers of muscle damage as well. While these two effects are slight, the indicate an important role for CoQ10's protective effects in athletes.
Lastly, CoQ10 may be useful for someone who's become deconditioned (out of shape) after an accident or injury; researchers have noted that CoQ10 can increase the VO2max of untrained people. This may indicate its ability to 'kickstart' one's fitness program.
An oft-repeated argument against taking supplements is; why can’t I just eat more foods that contain this substance, rather than taking a pill?
And I’ll answer you by saying yes, you can. There are foods you can eat that contain CoQ10, however the amounts found in them are very small. A serving of animal products (fish, beef, chicken, etc.) contains just a few milligrams of CoQ10. It's also found in oils, nuts, seeds, fruits, and veggies in even smaller amounts.
While all of the above are healthful foods, the amount of CoQ10 found in them isn’t nearly enough to replicate the benefits of supplemental doses similar to those used in studies (which numbers in the 100’s of milligrams, several times daily). Studies have shown that higher amounts produce superior benefits.
Which Form to Use?
There are two main forms of CoQ10 - ubiquinone (oxidized form) and ubiquinol (reduced form). Ubiquinol is often advertised as a better (and more expensive) form due to its supposed greater bioavailability (ability to be absorbed in the gut). It turns out however, that this isn’t entirely true, as both are equally effectie at raising levels in the body. Yet, the consumer pays much more for this form. Stick with ubiquinone; it is just as effective without the added price.
How much should you take? I recommend using more than 90mg a day. If you train very heavily then you could take up to 250mg a day. There probably isn't any added benefit from doses higher than this. And if you're going to supplement with larger amounts, taking it in divided doses is a good idea (2-3x daily), i.e. 120mg twice daily or thereabout.
Any Side Effects?
Are there side effects from CoQ10? No, not really. No serious side effects have ever been reported. The most we've ever seen in clinic is some digestive upset, which can be common with some supplements due to their high concentration.
So, if you’re looking for a safe way to increase your energy levels, you should consider supplementing with Coq10. Because I’m doing a lot of training this year, I’ll be taking a 120mg capsule, twice daily.
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