CoQ10’s Health Benefits: Energy, Heart, and Eyes
They’re the age-old questions physicians have grappled with forever. Why does my body slow down, and health deteriorate, as I age? Can I slow or stop it? Recent studies of co-enzyme Q10 (better known as CoQ10) give us some of the best answers ever.
CoQ10 is one of my favorite supplements and one of the most important chemicals in your body. It’s essential for fueling nearly every cellular process we need, not just to live, but to thrive. It’s the gasoline that fuels our mitochondria—which provide power to and within our cells. As much as 95 percent of our energy comes from our mitochondria.
The problem is that CoQ10 is one of many essential substances that our bodies produce less and less of as we age—starting as young as in our 20s and 30s.
How do I know if I need CoQ10?
CoQ10 is so important to every cell, and so often lacking in people’s diets, that you could reasonably conclude that everyone needs CoQ10. Of course, if you want a more personal assessment, your doctor can test you for CoQ10 deficiency.
But if you’re experiencing unusual fatigue, muscle weakness, low energy, fuzzy thinking, or just a lingering blah mood for example … then CoQ10 is almost certainly needed here.
If you have high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, vision problems…CoQ10 could be very useful here, as well.
That’s why I prescribe CoQ10 for nearly all of my patients older than 40. Studies show that my recommended daily dose of just 100 milligrams of CoQ10 per day can help:
- Support healthy blood pressure in as little as 3 weeks
- Boost your overall power and endurance by up to 16 percent in as little as 8 weeks
- Burn more fat during exercise to improve fitness and help you meet your weight goals
- Protect and power your heart and cardiovascular system
- Ensure healthy, youthful-looking skin by producing moisturizers that help reduce fine wrinkles and rough skin
- Protect cells in the eye from UV damage
- Prevent symptoms of macular degeneration
Why are we CoQ10-deficient?
The main cause of CoQ10 deficiency is, well…living. As I mentioned, it’s an essential substance that your body produces less of as you live on. But the demand for it remains high. In fact, we actually need more as we age. That’s a sure formula for deficiency.
It doesn’t help that we ingest more and more diet-related and environmental toxins over the years—many of which accumulate in our various organs, rather than passing through us. Your immune system has its hands full and needs all the fuel it can get to keep on fighting.
Making things worse, many of mainstream medicine’s conventional drugs actually block CoQ10 production, for example:
- Statins to reduce high cholesterol
- Beta-blockers to reduce high blood pressure
- Several antidepressants
Talk about unwanted side effects. Some of the very drugs we take to protect our hearts are putting them in direct danger by depleting its number one fuel.
Benefits of CoQ10
CoQ10 beats diabetes. CoQ10 is an absolutely essential ingredient in processing sugar.
It’s a simple problem-solution relationship. When you’re low on CoQ10, you’re slow in processing a million different metabolic interactions.
So the process of converting sugar to glucose (the only form of sugar readily used by your cells), for example, goes unfinished, leaving you with excess sugar in your cells and your blood.
The outcome is predictable—high blood sugar levels, insulin mayhem, weight gain, and all of the attendant problems.
CoQ10 has been shown to help keep blood sugar levels in a manageable range, reducing the spikes and crashes, and reducing the amount of insulin diabetics require.
When it comes to diabetes—and blood sugar in general—CoQ10 is the real deal. And, it has no nasty side effects—after all, it’s something we produce for ourselves.
CoQ10 fights high blood pressure and congestive heart failure (CHF). Your heart has far more mitochondria per cell than any other muscle.
Bicep muscle? Around 40 mitochondria per cell.
Heart? Around 4,000 per cell.
That’s your body’s intuitive wisdom talking—your heart is your most important muscle, it works non-stop, and needs the most CoQ10 for fuel.
So pay attention when your heart speaks—by showing these symptoms:
- General weakness
- Unusual fatigue
- Swollen legs and abdomen
- Shortness of breath, even without exertion
These are a few of the telltale symptoms of CHF.
CHF makes life challenging, limited, and worrisome for some 5 million Americans every year, and kills some 40,000 of them.
Enter CoQ10, and watch what happens when it turbocharges your heart mitochondria to help them create energy: more blood circulating, ensuring your entire system gets the oxygen and other nutrients it needs.
CoQ10 to prevent macular degeneration. Next to hearing loss, impaired vision is the most common sensory impairment as we age. But, contrary to what you may have been told, you CAN protect your vision, regardless of your age.
Macular degeneration is the most common cause of visual impairment. Early symptoms include blurred central vision and straight lines appearing distorted, for example, door frames and stairs.
When symptoms appear after age 60, it’s called age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
People at risk of developing AMD are:
- Older than 50
- A smoker, overweight, or diabetic
- Eating unhealthy food
- Fair-skinned with light eyes
- Those with a history of cataracts
Another at-risk group has been found recently—people with low levels of CoQ10.
We know this from studies of mitochondria in people with AMD. These studies show that dysfunctional mitochondria become functional and more active with CoQ10 treatment. CoQ10’s exceptional antioxidant properties are also known to play a role here.
Your eye care professional can see if you have cause for concern. You can also use the Amsler Grid Test to start. It’s a simple, in-home, DIY test available online. If you focus on a dot in the center of a grid, and the grid lines look curved or wavy, you should get a full checkup. As always, early detection is the goal.
What causes AMD?
The exact cause of AMD is yet to be known. But genes and age are the main suspects. A certain genetic profile is linked to AMD, but we don’t know what makes the genes activate. As with most diseases, toxins, stress, and unhealthy habits probably all contribute.
What we do know is how the disease behaves once it’s kicked in.
The macula is in the back of the eye, near the center of the retina. In early AMD, fatty proteins form on this sensitive tissue. These play a role in the eventual death of retinal cells and deteriorating vision.
AMD is rarely the cause of total blindness, thankfully. But it can certainly make daily life—driving, reading, watching TV—difficult.
You’ll be making AMD less of a threat with CoQ10 support. Ask your doctor about it when you get your checkup.
How much CoQ10 you need?
My recommended daily dosage:
- All healthy adults should get at least 100 mg/day
- For individuals with heart disease, I recommend: 300 mg/day
- If you don’t have heart disease, but you’re considered at risk, at least 120 mg/day
- For diabetes, I suggest 100 mg/day
- For eye health and protection, 100 mg/day
Be sure to discuss any plans to add a CoQ10 supplement with your doctor.
Note that CoQ10, like many supplements, will not fully dissolve in the body. Poor water solubility makes them, at best, 3 percent absorbable.
The most effective CoQ10 formulation will have enhanced bioavailability. A formulation made with gamma cyclodextrin, for example, can boost bioavailability to up to 100 percent. Eye drops containing CoQ10 are also available.
The crucial role of diet and lifestyle
If you’re a regular reader, you know I consider proper diet and an active lifestyle priorities number one and two. They are the premier source of good health, the foundation on which you can build a happier, longer life.
But CoQ10 can help correct or compensate for things we don’t have control over—genetics, environmental toxins and the like. Or, if you’ve made poor lifestyle choices in the past, CoQ10 is a great way to jumpstart a healthy new lifestyle.
As always, take good care.
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