When it comes to supplements, you hear all sorts of things about the usual essentials in everyone’s stack—magnesium, vitamin D, EFAs, antioxidants… but where CoQ10 is concerned, it somehow ends up lurking on the sidelines and repeatedly getting passed over.

That is until now.

CoQ10 is one of the most powerful supplements to boost the function and efficiency of your mitochondria—the powerhouses of your cells.

And when it comes to the support for eating a diet rich in CoQ10 or supplementing, there’s no shortage of research. CoQ10 is essential, and getting it in one way or another is key to your health.

In this article, we’re talking everything you need to know about CoQ10—what it is, the benefits of supplementing with CoQ10, how it works, and what dosage you need to experience all the benefits.

What is CoQ10?

Coenzyme Q10, commonly shortened to CoQ10, is a vitamin-like fat-soluble quinone naturally present in the body with especially high concentrations found in the most active tissues with the highest energy turnover rate, including the heart, brain, liver, and kidneys 1.

Because of where it’s concentrated, there’s a substantial amount of evidence supporting the link between CoQ10 deficiency and several cardiometabolic disorders 2.

It’s well established as a critical part of the oxidative phosphorylation process in the cell’s mitochondria, responsible for converting energy from food (carbohydrates and fatty acids) into ATP to drive cellular machinery.

The vast majority of ATP is produced in the mitochondria through oxidative phosphorylation, and because pretty much every cellular function depends on a sufficient supply of ATP, CoQ10 is essential for maintaining the health of all human tissues and organs 3.

Dysfunctional energy metabolism has been a significant contributing factor for several chronic health conditions, and CoQ10 has been indicated as a form of treatment for cardiac, neurologic, oncologic, and immunologic disorders 4.

But the benefits don’t stop there.

The Benefits Of Taking CoQ10

Heart Health

One of the most prominent and well-known roles of CoQ10 is in supporting heart health. There’s a fair bit of evidence supporting the link between CoQ10 deficiency and cardiometabolic disorders, meaning that CoQ10 supplementation may help treat a variety of chronic and acute conditions, including hypertension, ischemic heart disease, myocardial infarction, heart failure, viral myocarditis, cardiomyopathies, dyslipidemia, obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and more 2.

In virtually all tissues of the body, especially those with the highest activity, CoQ10 has antioxidant, bioenergetic, anti-inflammatory, membrane stabilizer, and antiatherogenic functions.

Oxidative stress is considered as being a major underlying factor in the development of these diseases, and as a powerful lipid antioxidant, CoQ10 may be able to reduce the risk of CVD 5.

Beyond that, CoQ10 also plays an important role in supporting the heart’s energetic needs. For example, the process of cardiac contraction requires a great deal of energy, and there are hypotheses that myocardial failure may be the result of reduced production of the power in mitochondria 6.

And in addition to that, the anti-inflammatory effect that CoQ10 offers may help mitigate damage caused by pro-inflammatory molecules. Some research has established CoQ10 as a beneficial compound for reducing inflammation via regulating nitric oxide levels and modulating levels of cytokines 2.

Some of the positive effects of CoQ10 supplementation on various cardiac and metabolic conditions are listed below 2:

  • Hypertension — ROS scavenging, vasodilation, angiotensin effect adjustment, aldosterone reduction
  • Type 2 diabetes — Protects against ROS, antioxidant, enhances fatty acid oxidation
  • Metabolic syndrome — Protects against ROS, antioxidant, tissue-protective
  • CVD — Antioxidant, protects against ROS, bioenergetic, anti-inflammatory

Inflammation

Chronic low-grade inflammation is a huge issue when it comes to chronic disease; excessive inflammation and high levels of oxidative stress are the breeding ground of several inflammatory-based health conditions, including stroke, chronic respiratory diseases, heart disorders, cancer, obesity, and diabetes 7.

But there’s considerable research supporting the role of CoQ10 in mitigating inflammation via its effects on circulating pro-inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukins 1 and 8 (IL-1, IL-8), and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF).

The results of a 2017 systematic review found that CoQ10 supplementation significantly reduced levels of TNF-α, but there was minimal change in both CRP and IL-6 levels 8.

Another 2019 study found that 200mg/day CoQ10 supplementation effectively reduced several inflammatory markers 9.

Results showed significantly lower concentrations of four of the five biomarkers for inflammation—osteopontin, osteoprotegerin, sTNF receptor 1, sTNF receptor 2. However, it did not find reductions in the tumor necrosis factor-like weak inducer of apoptosis called TWEAK.

Energy

When it comes to enhancing energy availability, CoQ10 is one of the most powerful supplements to do so. The primary biochemical action of CoQ10 is serving as a cofactor in the electron-transport chain—a series of redox reactions involved in the generation of ATP 3.

And because virtually all cellular functions rely on an adequate supply of ATP, CoQ10 is required to support the health and function of all tissues.

Interestingly, CoQ10 is highly concentrated in tissues with high energy turnover rates—heart, kidney, liver—and is present in high quantities in the cell’s mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell.

It stimulates the mitochondria to increase the production of energy in the form of ATP. More specifically, it increased the efficiency of the electron transport chain that is responsible for producing about 95% of the cell’s ATP 10. In doing so, it creates more substrate for cells and enables your body to use food more efficiently to produce energy.

A deficiency of CoQ10 leads to dysfunction of the respiratory chain due to insufficient production of highly energetic compounds needed to support cell function, ultimately resulting in inadequate cellular efficiency and low energy.

How It Works

When it comes to the role of CoQ10 in the body, there are a few main jobs it plays: energy production, antioxidant, and cell signaling/gene expression.

Energy Metabolism

CoQ10 is one of the major pieces involved in the cellular machinery needed to produce ATP, which is the fundamental energy substrate used to power muscle contract and all other cellular processes 11.

The primary part of ATP production occurs in the inner mitochondrial membrane, where the highest concentrations of CoQ10 are found. CoQ10 is unique in that it’s a major energy transfer molecule.

In the simplest way possible, the transfer of electrons through the mitochondrial membrane results in a gradient that, when protons are pushed back through the membrane to the inner mitochondrial space, drives ATP formation 11.

CoQ10 itself is bound to a protein complex that supports this transfer of electrons and produces large amounts of energy.

Antioxidant

One of the other important roles that CoQ10 has in the body is protecting cells against oxidative damage by acting as an antioxidant. Inside cell membranes, CoQ10 is located close to the unsaturated lipid chains to act as an oxidant scavenger and protect lipids from oxidative damage.

While membranes contain other powerful antioxidants like tocopherol (vitamin E), the concentration of CoQ10 can be anywhere from three to 30 times greater, suggesting the importance with respect to other antioxidant compounds 12.

But on the flip side, reactions between CoQ10 and lipid or oxygen radicals actually produce quinone radicals. Still, membranes are equipped with enzymes that keep CoQ10 in reduced form within plasma and end-membranes 11.

Perhaps most interestingly, studies find that when oxidative stress levels are high due to either lack of dietary selenium or -tocopherol, membrane concentrations of CoQ10 are significantly increased to compensate.

And if that wasn’t enough, CoQ10 also plays a role in the regeneration of tocopherol, and without it, regeneration is slow and inefficient 11.

In LDL particles, for example, there are small amounts of CoQ10 present to protect larger amounts of tocopherol.

Cell Signaling And Gene Expression

The last critical function CoQ10 plays in the body is in cell signaling and gene expression; studies show that it participates in several aspects of oxidation/reduction control of cellular signaling and transmission 11.

Like we talked about before, CoQ10 both produces reactive oxygen species and protects the body against them by acting as an antioxidant.

Although high levels of oxidative stress can wreak havoc on the body and cause cell death via cytochrome C release from mitochondria, research suggests that transient exposure to oxidative stress actually stimulates redox signaling to help the body build tolerance 13.

Based on this, it plays a dual role in the mitochondrial generation of intracellular signaling and acts as a pro-oxidant participating in redox signaling, but also acts as a powerful antioxidant that inhibits permeability transition and cytochrome C release, as well as increasing ATP synthesis. As a result, CoQ10 can attenuate death signaling and prevent apoptosis and necrosis 13.

A 2005 study looking at the effects of CoQ10 supplementation on cell signaling and gene expression found that CoQ10 increased the expression of 694 genes 14. Researchers concluded that besides its other roles, CoQ10 acts as a potent gene regulator.

How Much CoQ10 Is Enough?

It’s obvious that CoQ10 plays a significant role in the body, and a lot can happen when levels are insufficient.

So, how much is enough to maintain cellular health, support energy production, reduce inflammation, and protect the heart?

A typical dose of CoQ10 ranges anywhere from 30 to 90 mg per day taken in divided doses; however, this amount can be as high as 200 mg depending on the health status of the individual and the severity of deficiency or disease; for people with cardiovascular disease, CoQ10 dosages generally range between 100 and 200 mg per day 15.

As CoQ10 is fat-soluble, it is best taken with a meal containing fat to enhance absorption or taken alongside another compound that increases bioavailability.

Studies suggest that higher doses of CoQ10 are less well-absorbed, so opting for a maintenance dose around 100 mg daily should maintain sufficient tissue levels 15.

Summary

You often don’t hear much about CoQ10—the powerful, fat-soluble quinone that is a highly effective lipid antioxidant and a fundamental compound required to power the body’s energy production ATP cycle.

While it’s widely distributed throughout the body in cell membranes—especially those of the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, spleen, pancreas, and adrenal glands—the low levels of CoQ10 that are naturally stored in the body in conjunction with a natural age-related decline mean that supplementation becomes essential to support health and well-being.

So, if your mitochondria need a little pick me up, Performance Lab® Energy is there to do the trick.

Featuring MicroActive® Q10, BioPerine®, BioPQQ®, Acetyl L-Carnitine, and Bio-Enhanced® R-Lipoic Acid, Energy optimizes cells’ mitochondria for a surge of natural vitality in both body and mind.

References

  1. MT Tran, TM Mitchell, DT Kennedy, JT Role of coenzyme Q10 in chronic heart failure, angina, and hypertension. Pharmacotherapy. 2001;21:797–806.
  2. VI Zozina, S Covantev, OA Goroshko, LM Krasnykh, VG Kukes. Coenzyme Q10 in Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases: Current State of the Problem. Curr Cardiol Rev. 2018;14(3):164-174.
  3. R Saini. Coenzyme Q10: The essential nutrientJ Pharm Bioallied Sci. 2011;3(3):466-467.
  4. RA Bonakdar, E Guarneri. Coenzyme Q10. Am Fam Physician. 2005 Sep 15; 72(6): 1065-1070.
  5. U Singh, S Devaraj, I Jialal. Coenzyme Q10 supplementation and heart failure. Nutr Rev. 2007;65(6 Pt 1):286-293.
  6. A Kumar, H Kaur, P Devi, V Mohan. Role of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) in cardiac disease, hypertension and Meniere-like syndrome.Pharmacol Ther. 2009;124(3):259-268.
  7. R Pahwa, A Goyal, P Bansal, et al. Chronic Inflammation. [Updated 2020 Nov 20]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493173/
  8. J Zhai, Y Bo, Y Lu, C Liu, L Zhang. Effects of Coenzyme Q10 on Markers of Inflammation: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.PLoS One. 2017;12(1):e0170172.
  9. U Alehagen, J Alexander, J Aaseth, A Larsson. Decrease in inflammatory biomarker concentration by intervention with selenium and coenzyme Q10: a subanalysis of osteopontin, osteoprotergerin, TNFr1, TNFr2 and TWEAKJ Inflamm (Lond). 2019;16:5.
  10. L Ernster, G Dallner. Biochemical, physiological and medical aspects of ubiquinone function.Biochim Biophys Acta. 1995;1271(1):195-204.
  11. FL Biochemical functions of coenzyme Q10. J Am Coll Nutr. 2001;20(6):591-598.
  12. M Turunen, P Sindelar, G Dallner. Induction of endogenous coenzyme Q biosynthesis by administration of peroxisomal inducers 1999;9(2-4):131-139.
  13. T Yamamura, H Otani, Y Nakao, et al. Dual involvement of coenzyme Q10 in redox signaling and inhibition of death signaling in the rat heart mitochondria. Antioxid Redox Signal. 2001;3(1):103-112.
  14. DA Groneberg, B Kindermann, M Althammer, et al. Coenzyme Q10 affects expression of genes involved in cell signalling, metabolism and transport in human CaCo-2 cells.Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2005;37(6):1208-1218.
  15. HN Bhagvan, RK Chopra. Coenzyme Q10: Absorption, tissue uptake, metabolism and pharmacokinetics. Free Radical Research. 2006 May;40(5):445–453.