When you're trying to find dietary supplements to complement your lifestyle and fitness regime, things can get a bit confusing.
Of course, there are the most popular and straightforward options, like vitamin C or omega-3s. But once you leave the realm of basic nutrients, you may find yourself faced with complicated names and dodgy ingredients.
CoQ10 is one of the most common dietary add-ons you’ll come across. This ubiquitous coenzyme is unique among supplements for both its wide range of applications and its therapeutic properties.
In this essential guide, we’ll explore what CoQ10 is, its health benefits, and how to choose the best CoQ10 supplement to boost your energy levels and support your wellness goals.
Coenzyme Q10 — also known as CoQ10 — is a substance naturally produced by your cells for your cells. In other words, this bioactive material is created by the cells in your body to meet their own energy requirements in an amazing display of self-sustainability.
Every single cell uses CoQ10 for growth, energy production, and maintenance. This compound plays a crucial part in the chemical reactions that support normal cellular function, and it is essential for neutralizing free radicals (i.e., it’s an antioxidant).
According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the areas in your body with the highest concentration of this coenzyme are the organs with the highest metabolism rate — the heart and the kidneys.
It’s also found in abundance in your muscles, which are another part of your body that needs high levels of energy to function correctly. In a healthy person, more than 90% of this substance is present in the reduced form of CoQ10, called ubiquinol.
You may well wonder why you should worry about something that seems to take care of itself.
Under normal circumstances, this self-sustaining mechanism produces an adequate amount of energy to meet cellular requirements. However, during moments of higher demand, cells divert their energy from other vital functions — like powering your muscles and cardiovascular system — to generate more CoQ10.
Body cells, especially those that make up skeletal and smooth muscle tissues, are not functioning at their maximum capacity, which means neither are you.
So if your exercise routine revolves around strength training or intensive aerobic workouts, CoQ10 is extra important for you. When its levels are optimal, this translates into you being able to train harder, run faster, or lift heavier weights.
The versatile nature of CoQ10 makes it one of the most popular supplements, and not only among the gym crowd.
This bioactive substance not does much more than boost your athletic performance; it also improves and preserves your cognitive function. It's a win-win scenario for both your body and mind.
Moreover, a study published in the medical journal Biology suggests that levels of CoQ10 naturally decrease as we age, so supplementing with it as you grow older can help support optimal energy levels and allow you to keep doing the things you love.
In the end, CoQ10 supplementation will work wonders any time your cells crave more energy.
If you're training hard, you may have higher chances of developing CoQ10 deficiency (although this is not always the case), which could hinder your fitness goals.
Low levels of CoQ10 can lead to a dysfunction in the mitochondria — the organelles that generate most of the energy that powers your cells.
In a study published in BBA Clinical, researchers found a direct relation between this condition and lower energy levels, slow thinking, diminished endurance, and prolonged recovery after physical activity.
Have you been training twice as hard without seeing any results? This may well be due to low CoQ10 production.
If you're focused on strength training and your coenzyme Q10 levels are not well-balanced, you may have a challenging time building muscle tissue. But, supplementing with CoQ10 is an area of ongoing research in the sports nutrition community, and the results have been promising.
According to a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Medicine, trained athletes who supplemented with CoQ10 saw a significant increase in their energy production.
This energy is transferred to your body's tissues that need it the most: your heart and skeletal muscles. This leads to more stamina and more power, so your body can sustain tougher workouts and longer running sessions while you stay mentally motivated and focused.
If you're planning on using CoQ10 as a performance enhancer on your training days, take it as a pre-workout supplement to boost your energy levels. It will be a great support to help you overcome the challenges standing between you and your fitness goals.
In a study published in Current Cardiology Reviews, people who suffer from heart conditions such as heart attack or congestive heart failure tend to have lower CoQ10 levels in their system.
This is equally true for individuals who take statins, which are commonly found in cholesterol-lowering medication. In fact, according to the Lipids in Health and Disease Journal, CoQ10 supplementation can significantly reduce total cholesterol levels while increasing HDL cholesterol — the good kind.
Decreasing your overall cholesterol levels helps keep your arteries healthy and your blood pressure levels low, leading to a lower risk of developing heart disease.
It also supports heart health by lowering your blood sugar levels, especially in people who struggle with type-2 diabetes.
In one study published in the International Journal of Endocrinology, CoQ10 supplementation effectively lowered blood sugar levels and improved insulin sensitivity in type-2 diabetics.
CoQ10 is also known for its nootropic properties. Nootropics, or "smart drugs," are substances with therapeutic effects on the brain, ranging from increased memory retention and motivation to enhanced focus.
CoQ10 works for your cognition the same way it works for your body: It fuels your brain cells so you keep a sharp mind, perform better, and stay focused during mentally-draining tasks.
According to a study in the Journal of Pharmacy and BioAllied Sciences, CoQ10 has a powerful antioxidant action that protects your brain and body from free radicals and oxidative stress.
Other promising studies show that CoQ10 may slow the progression of cognitive decline.
Australian research published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience found that higher doses of this vital coenzyme can prevent brain cells from deteriorating over time by supporting their mitochondrial function.
In other words, it keeps the cells working at an optimum level so your brain energetically "fed," which in turn may prevent or delay the onset of conditions like Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease.
When it comes to coenzyme Q10 supplements, there is something essential to keep in mind: They are not all created equal.
The most commonly available forms of this coenzyme are ubiquinol and ubiquinone. Even though these active compounds are both valid forms of CoQ10, there are fundamental differences between them and how your body absorbs them.
Ubiquinone is fat-soluble, which means it needs to be combined with some type of fat to be fully absorbed into the bloodstream. In practical terms, this means that you should either look for a formula that contains an emulsifier or eat fatty foods before you take your supplement.
On the other hand, ubiquinol is water-soluble. It’s simply a reduced form of ubiquinone, but it’s considered the one with superior absorption, making it more expensive. If you make the proper dietary adjustments, they both work great.
There are also some brands that include other ingredients to their CoQ10 formulas. One of the most common additions is the branded ingredient "BioPerine® " (black pepper fruit extract).
So far, there are no studies where BioPerine ® extract was used, so there is no concrete evidence to support the claim that it actually enhances the health properties of CoQ10 supplements. It is, however, useful for supplements with intrinsically low bioavailability, such as curcumin/turmeric extract.
If you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, take extra care when reading the labels as some capsules may include cartilage or gelatin. As always, make sure that all the ingredients used have been scientifically tested or are pharmaceutical grade.
If you're simply looking for the best stuff without having to worry about fillers or wacky additives, then Transparent Labs Rawseries CoQ10 is the perfect solution for you.
It's non-GMO, gluten-free, and has no artificial colorings, sweeteners, or preservatives. Made with only one ingredient — pure CoQ10 — it delivers a highly effective dosage (100 mg of CoQ10 per capsule) at an affordable price.
Transparent Labs Rawseries CoQ10 is free from preservatives, artificial coloring, artificial sweeteners, and gluten.
Keep in mind that even though there are no severe side effects when taking this supplement, it can still cause mild gastrointestinal discomfort in some cases. This can be minimized by breaking up the dosage throughout the day.
As always, consult your doctor before taking supplements, especially if you have a health condition.
You can find CoQ10 in almost any form. From chewable tablets to soft gels and even syrups, so there's something for everybody.
No matter what CoQ10 supplement you choose, always check the labels and identify the ingredients and where they come from.
It's your cells we're talking about, the most basic units of life, so you want to make sure they're always fully fueled and supported with the best possible ingredients.