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Thursday, 26 September 2013

Coenzyme Q10

Don't miss out on all this critical supplement has to offer

Co-Q10 is a supplement that I take every day.

Many assume that I take it due to the health benefits it provides, such as improved heart health and reduced risk of cancers. And while I enjoy those benefits from CoQ10, they’re not the only reason why I supplement with this critical nutrient. It also helps with performance in the gym and the results you can see on your body (i.e. less body fat and more muscle).

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), known scientifically as 2,3-dimethoxy,5-methyl, 6-polyisoprene parabenzoquinone, is also referred to as ubiquinol.

That’s due to the fact that it is ubiquitous (everywhere) within the body. CoQ10 is particularly concentrated in the mitochondria of cells. Mitochondria are considered the power plants of cells, as they produce the majority of adenosince triphosphate (ATP) from carbs and fats. ATP is the energy currency that all cells, such as muscle cells, rely on to function. In addition to the mitochondria, CoQ10 is also found in the membrane of cells. This is important as it can enhance the integrity of cells, such as muscle cells.

Although not classified as a vitamin, CoQ10 has properties similar to vitamins.

Like vitamins, it serves as a coenzyme that assists in numerous reactions in the body. One of the most critical reactions it assists in is the production of ATP in the mitochondria. Here it works to carry protons and electrons, which are essential processes in the production of ATP.

Unlike most vitamins, CoQ10 is produced naturally in the body (from the amino acid tyrosine, or from phenylalanine, in addition to several vitamins and minerals).

Therefore, it does not have a recommended intake level. But that does not mean that you don’t need to supplement with it. Quite the contrary! After you reach the age of 20 your levels of CoQ10 produced by your body begin to drop. In addition, your body’s levels of CoQ10 drop further if your body’s utilization of CoQ10 is increased. And if you’re a bodybuilder you can be pretty sure that your body’s utilization of CoQ10 is increased. That’s because intense exercise, as well as an increase in metabolic rate (which occurs with intense training) both increase your body’s utilization of CoQ10.

There are hundreds of studies showing that CoQ10 is effective for the treatment of a wide range of diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, chronic fatigue syndrome, muscular dystrophy and neurodegenerative disorders (such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and Huntington's disease).

Many of the clinical studies have been done on CoQ10’s effects on the heart, which confirm that supplementing with it improves heart function. Research also suggests that CoQ10 is effective for helping to reduce blood pressure, which further reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. In fact, a 2007 study by Australian researchers, which pooled the data from 12 clinical trials (known as a meta-analysis), concluded that CoQ10 supplementation reduces blood pressure by an average of about 10%. A 2011 study from Germany also reported that subjects taking CoQ10 experienced a drop in their “bad” LDL cholesterol by about 15%. Many of these properties are due to CoQ10’s ability to turn on or turn off certain genes. CoQ10’s strong antioxidant properties are also involved.

In addition to cardiovascular disease, the use of CoQ10 in helping the treatment of and the prevention of cancer is also a hot topic.

Interest in CoQ10 as a possible treatment for cancer began when it was discovered that some cancer patients had a lower than normal amount of CoQ10 in their blood. Low blood levels of coenzyme Q10 have been found in patients with myeloma, lymphoma, and cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, pancreas, colon, kidney, and head and neck. Because studies suggest that coenzyme Q10 may help the immune system work better, it is used as adjuvant therapy (therapy given following the primary treatment). CoQ10’s ability to enhance the immune system is largely due to its strong antioxidant properties, which may help cancer from developing. In fact, the wide range of therapeutic capabilities of CoQ10, such as preventing cardiovascular disease, may also be due to its strong antioxidant properties (see below).

Because oxidative stress results in damage to DNA and protein, it has been implicated in many neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and Huntington's disease.

Since CoQ10 reduces oxidative stress, it may help to protect against such disorders, as well as against any neuronal damage produced by ischemia (lack of blood flow), atherosclerosis and toxic injury.

As I already mentioned above, CoQ10 has powerful antioxidant properties.

Not only does it work itself to quench free radicals, which can damage all tissues in the body, but it also enhances the antioxidant potential of other antioxidants in the body, such as vitamins C and E. These antioxidant properties provide CoQ10 its wide range of beneficial effects. For example, one way it may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease is by inhibiting the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol. Oxidation of LDL in arterial walls leads to the development of atherosclerosis. Another way it may prevent cardiovascular disease, as well as diabetes, is by enhancing vitamin E’s ability to reduce levels of the inflammatory protein, C-reactive protein (CRP). CRP is linked to the risk of heart disease and diabetes. A 2004 study found that adding CoQ10 supplements to vitamin E supplements reduced CRP levels an additional 20% above that achieved with vitamin E alone.

It should be obvious that CoQ10 can drastically improve your energy levels, given that it is critical for the production of ATP, and your levels are likely low due to your age and your training.

Several studies confirm that CoQ10 supplementation enhances exercise performance. A 2008 study by Japanese scientists investigated the effects of CoQ10 supplementation on fatigue during exercise. They had subjects perform exercise on a stationary bike to exhaustion after supplementing with either 100 mg of CoQ10, 300 mg of CoQ10, or a placebo for eight days. They found that the subjects taking 300 mg of Co-Q10 experienced less fatigue during the exercise and they recovered faster between bouts of exercise. Although this was an aerobic-exercise study, it has implications for bodybuilders. The reduced fatigue afforded by the CoQ10 supplement suggests that adding CoQ10 to your supplement regimen can help you get more reps on higher rep sets, especially late in your workout. Also, the fact that the subjects taking CoQ10 were able to recover faster between bouts of exercise suggests that CoQ10 may be able to help you better recover between sets.

Although weight lifting is anaerobic exercise, meaning that you don’t rely much on oxygen or the mitochondria to produce the energy you need during a set, it’s between sets when you use oxygen to produce ATP via the mitochondria for your next set.

Because CoQ10 helps the mitochondria create ATP faster after you finish each set, it can help you to be stronger on the next set. Finnish scientists found that when cross-country skiers supplemented with CoQ10, all the measured indexes of physical performance, such as their maximal oxygen consumption, endurance and recovery between exercise bouts, improved significantly. Several other studies in athletes have also found similar results.

As I mentioned above, CoQ10 helps to reduce oxidative damage.

It may also protect against muscle damage due to intense exercise, as well as the oxidative damage that tends to follow exercise-induced muscle damage. Japanese scientists in a 1991 study found that when exercised rats performed muscle-damaging, down-hill running, their levels of key enzymes associated with muscle damage were significantly elevated. However, rats supplemented with CoQ10 did not have elevated levels of these enzymes and therefore were resistant against muscle damage. A 2008 study by Japanese scientists from the University of Tsukuba found similar results to the 1991 study but in kendo athletes taking CoQ10. A recent study from the University of Granada found that in athletes competing in a 30+ mile run in the Sierra Nevada, those taking a placebo had a 100% increase in markers for DNA damage, while those supplementing with CoQ10 had only a 38% increase. They reported that the CoQ10 prevented the over-expression of pro-inflammatory compounds thereby reducing oxidative damage to the muscle cells.

Another way that CoQ10 may help to reduce exercise-induced muscle damage is by stabilizing the muscle membrane.

As discussed above, CoQ10 is found in the membranes of muscle cells, where it helps to add stability to the muscle cell. This can help the muscle fiber be more resilient against mechanical damage, such as intense exercise. This was shown in yet another study from the Japanese group at the University of Tsukuba. This 2007 study reported that rats given CoQ10 and performing exhaustive exercise had reduced markers of muscle damage, but not enhanced levels of free radical scavenging. Therefore, they concluded that the higher CoQ10 levels they found in the rats muscle fibers suggested that CoQ10 was effective at reducing exercise-induced muscle injury by enhancing stabilization of the muscle cell membrane.

After reading this article you may be tempted to avoid taking CoQ10.

After all, we know that inducing muscle damage is important. So why would you want to prevent it? Well, there’s still a lot that we don’t know about muscle damage, recovery, and muscle growth. So ditch CoQ10 thinking that it’s going to prevent you from being able to damage your muscles in the gym and grow. I don’t think that taking CoQ10 can negatively affect your ability to grow muscle, but it can encourage them to recover faster and better. In fact, a very interesting study from Australia supports CoQ10’s ability to aid muscle growth.

Australian researchers discovered that subjects taking 300 mg of CoQ10 for 4 weeks experienced an increase in the amount of fast-twitch muscle fibers without even training!

Since the fast-twitch muscle fibers are the muscle fibers that are the strongest and the biggest, this suggests that supplementing with CoQ10 may help you increase muscle strength and muscle size by increasing the number of fast-twitch muscle fibers you carry. Although the exact mechanism is unknown, the researchers hypothesized that CoQ10 acts as a gene regulator, activating certain genes in the muscle fibers to convert slow-twitch muscle fibers into fast-twitch.

Dosing recommendations:

The majority of the studies in humans showing significant effects with CoQ10 used doses of around 300 mg per day of CoQ10. Although CoQ10 is somewhat rich in beef, sardines, mackerel, and peanuts, there are only about 30 mg of CoQ10 in one pound of sardines, two pounds of beef, or two and a half pounds of peanuts. So you definitely need to supplement with it, as it would be difficult to get enough CoQ10 in your diet.

I suggest taking 300 mg of CoQ10 daily with meals. Since CoQ10 is fat-soluble, it is better absorbed when taken with food. You may want to make sure those meals include a cup of grapefruit juice. Japanese scientists discovered that uptake of CoQ10 is enhanced when taken with grapefruit juice, which acts on a certain protein in the digestive tract to allow for a higher absorption of CoQ10. Another way to enhance CoQ10 uptake is to take it with 5-10 mg of Bioperine. This piperine extract from black pepper has been shown increased blood levels of CoQ10 by about 30% more than when taking CoQ10 alone.


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Molyneux, SL, et al. Coenzyme q10: is there a clinical role and a case for measurement? Clin Biochem Rev. 2008 May;29(2):71-82.
Langsjoen Per.H., et al. (1985) Response of patients in classes III and IV of cardiomyopathy to therapy in a blind and crossover trial with coenzyme Q10. Proc. Natl.  Acad. of Sci., U.S.A., vol. 82, pp 4240-4244.
Langsjoen P. H., et al. (1994) Treatment  of essential hypertension with coenzyme Q10.  In:  Eighth International Symposium on Biomedical and Clinical Aspects of Coenzyme Q (1994) Littarru G.P., Battino M. , Folkers K. (Eds) The Molecular Aspects of Medicine, Vol. 15 (Supplement), pp S287-S294.

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