Usually, if your body can manufacture a natural chemical on its own, that substance doesn’t get classified as a vitamin.
Still, your body does not make enough of certain critical nutrients. You need to get them in food or supplements.
That’s the case with CoQ10. It’s central to every cell’s production of energy and it fights off oxidative damage that can lead to disease.
And consider the fact that as soon as you enter your twenties, your body’s production of CoQ10 starts to slip. By the time you get to your eighties, the cells of the body are only making about half as much CoQ10 as they did when you were younger.1
That tells me, in no uncertain terms, that supplementing with CoQ10 is one of the best things you can do to protect your health. This is a popular supplement, but I think people still don’t know all the reasons it’s so important. . .
The role of CoQ10 is particularly important in the mitochondria – the little organelles that are the energy plants or “batteries’ that fuel every cell. A cell typically has about 200 mitochondria, but some cells have as many as 10,000.
Just as a fossil fuel power plant throws off pollutants, mitochondria throw off oxidative free radicals when they produce energy. If these are allowed to accumulate in a cell, they can wreak havoc and lead to illness – the same way a dirty smokestack outside a factory can ruin a community’s health if it spews a steady stream of dirty smoke.
CoQ10 is an essential part of the cell’s pollution-control apparatus, keeping this type of oxidative stress under control and limiting it to manageable levels. Research shows that supplementing with CoQ10 reinforces this protection – and is especially important in today’s world where so many of us eat too much processed food, are overweight and have high blood sugar.
For instance, research in Europe recently showed that if you have metabolic syndrome – experiencing symptoms like high blood pressure, blood sugar problems and extra pounds around the waist – CoQ10 helps reduce oxidative stress in the liver and other organs. And combining some exercise with CoQ10 was generally found to have an even bigger and better impact.2
That kind of oxidative reduction may help save your life.
The benefits are far-reaching. A review study of CoQ10’s effect on chronic kidney disease shows it can drop creatinine levels – a marker of how well your kidneys are filtering out waste products from the body.3
Head off Headaches
CoQ10 can also stave off migraine headaches.
Research at the University of Maine shows migraine headaches may represent the brain’s reaction to an overload of oxidative stress.4 According to researcher Jonathan Borkum, the typical triggers for migraines – like disrupted sleep, air pollution, noise, stress and certain foods – bump up oxidative stress in the brain.
“Oxidative stress is a useful signal of impending harm because a number of unfavorable conditions in the brain can give rise to it,” says Dr. Borkum.
And other research supports Dr. Borkum’s findings and demonstrates that CoQ10 can offer relief.
In a French study, researchers found that the incidence of migraines could be cut by 60 percent in twelve weeks by taking a daily combination of 100 mg of CoQ10 plus 100 mg of feverfew (an herb reputed to help relieve headaches) along with 112.5 mg of magnesium and 1.4 mg of vitamin B6 – a nutrient that facilitates magnesium absorption.5
Perhaps the most surprising benefit of CoQ10 is healthier teeth and gums. Problems with oral health increase as you get older and are linked to a host of other problems, like cancer and heart disease. But research shows CoQ10 can help control inflammation in your gums.6 And studies are being done to see if CoQ10 can help heal gums faster after you have a tooth taken out.7
I would not say CoQ10 is a miracle cure for these dental problems, but it can help.
The bottom line on CoQ10: It’s an irreplaceable cog in every cell’s antioxidant machinery. As I mentioned, your body makes less and less of it with each passing year. I can’t think of any reason not to take it.
Some people report mild side effects – mostly gastrointestinal – but I strongly suspect these have nothing to do with the supplement. I’m willing to bet these folks had tummy problems before they started the supplement and will have them after they stop. But naturally, if you think any supplement is giving you a problem, you should cut it back or cut it out.