Coenzyme Q10 (or CoQ10 for short) is an essential, fat-soluble nutrient that is required by every single cell in the human body where it functions as a potent antioxidant to protect our cells and tissues from the effects of free radicals and oxidative stress. CoQ10 is also crucial to cell growth and maintenance, as well as is directly implicated in cellular energy production (generating ATP for energy in our mitochondria), as well as is responsible for protecting heart health. As you can see, CoQ10 is a busy nutrient!
Our bodies naturally produce CoQ10, however, as is the case with many other nutrients that we synthesize, our production starts to wane as we age (as early as of age 20, in fact), putting us at risk for a whole range of health conditions including cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, type 2 diabetes, and various forms of cancer.
Coenzyme Q10 Foods
CoQ10 is also naturally present in foods such as oily fish (salmon, tuna, and others), organ meats (such as liver), and for those who are vegan or vegetarian, whole grains, and peanut butter. Though most people are thought to obtain enough CoQ10 via diet, those with existing health conditions (heart disease, diabetes, neurodegenerative conditions, and the like), as well as anyone on severely restrictive diets would likely benefit from supplementation. CoQ10 supplementation is also critically important for those who take statin drugs for high cholesterol since this class of medication further depletes the body’s CoQ10 (setting up a vicious cycle). As an anti-aging supplement, CoQ10 is also ideal to help promote healthy aging and boost cognitive and physical performance throughout life.
CoQ10 has been extensively studied and used in a wide range of therapeutic applications. Some of the most well-established benefits and uses for CoQ10 supplements include:
- Antiaging / Improving skin health
- Boosting exercise capacity and athletic performance
- Blood pressure management
- Enhancing immune function
- Fibromyalgia symptom management
- Helping prevent migraines
- Improving blood sugar balance, diabetes, and related disorders
- Improving fertility in men and women
- Managing heart failure (preventing blood from pooling in lungs and legs)
- Protecting heart health
- Protecting the brain and cognitive health
- Protecting the lungs (especially in those with chronic pulmonary conditions)
- Reducing cholesterol
- Stimulating natural energy production
Different Forms of CoQ10 Supplements
CoQ10 supplements are widely available in a range of formats from capsules to tablets, powders, chewables, gummies, and even liquid CoQ10. Because of its powerful antioxidant properties, CoQ10 is also frequently added to skin care products such as creams and serums that are intended to stimulate skin repair and regeneration, reduce sun damage, and promote a more radiant complexion.
When shopping for a CoQ10 supplement, you’ll notice that it comes in one of two forms – either as ubiquinone, or ubiquinol. The primary difference between the two is that ubiquinol is the reduced form of CoQ10, whereas ubiquinone is the oxidized form.
So, what’s the best form of CoQ10? Generally speaking, since ubiquinone must be converted to ubiquinol to be absorbed and used, and since ubiquinol accounts for 90% of the CoQ10 in the blood, ubiquinol is typically the preferred form. This is especially true for those over age 40, as we tend to gradually lose our ability to effectively convert ubiquinone to ubiquinol during the aging process.
How much CoQ10 should I take? CoQ10 dosage
There are a wide range of possible dosages for CoQ10 – anywhere from 50–1,200 mg per day, though most supplements fall in the 100, 200, and 400 mg range.
The appropriate dose for you is largely a function of the purpose for which you are using it.
Generally speaking, for antiaging benefits, energy support, and overall health maintenance, a standard dose is typically in the 100-200 mg range. For mitochondrial dysfunction, cognitive health issues, and neurological benefits (including for the treatment of dementia, Alzheimer’s, and the like), as well as for boosting exercise performance, larger doses are typically called for.
Some of the best Coenzyme Q10 supplements in Canada include AOR CoQ10, and Natural Factors CoQ10, both of which are brands that offer CoQ10 in a range of different potencies to suit everyone’s unique needs, and that adhere to the strictest quality standards.
Final Thoughts on CoQ10 Supplements
CoQ10 makes a wonderful addition to your daily general health and wellness supplement regimen and can be especially important for those with pre-existing illness and degenerative health conditions. As a general rule of thumb, CoQ10 is ideal for anyone looking to improve heart health and blood sugar metabolism, as well as to help manage high blood pressure in those with diabetes.
While CoQ10 can be taken at pretty much any time of day, since it’s a fat-soluble nutrient it is best taken with a meal or a snack that contains some fat – to enhance absorption. In addition, because CoQ10 stimulates energy production taking it in the late afternoon or evening is likely not the best time, as it may have too much of a stimulatory effect.
Coenzyme Q10 supplements are generally well-tolerated, though some people may experience side effects such as GI upset (including nausea, heartburn, loss of appetite, diarrhea), headaches, insomnia, fatigue, dizziness, rash, and irritability. In such instances, discontinue use and consult your health care practitioner.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is intended for educational and informational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your practitioner prior to taking herbs or nutritional supplements.
Roos Jonsin is a Canadian naturopath and researcher dedicated to helping people live healthier lives through education about vitamins, herbs, and nutritional supplements.
Roos also consults with suppliers and manufacturers on product development and marketing. National Nutrition is Canada’s leading health & nutritional supplements store, also voted as the Best Health Food Store in Canada by the experts at Canadian Health Food Association.
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