February is Heart Health month, so if we are going to talk about great cardio protective nutrients - magnesium, L-carnitine, Omegas etc. - we should definitely talk about Co-Enzyme Q10, also know as CoQ10.
What is Co-enzyme Q10?
Co-enzyme Q10 is not a vitamin nor a mineral. It is a fat soluble, vitamin-like substance in the family of nutrients called ubiquinones. Your body produces this nutrient naturally and it can be found in every tissue - in every cell in the body. It acts as an antioxidant which protects the phospholipids and the mitochondrial membranes from damage caused by lipid peroxidation. CoQ10 is vital in the functioning of mitochondria (the powerplants of our cells that play a big role in healthy aging) – as it acts as an electron carrier in the mitochondrial transport chain (for those who like the specifics) and is therefore, essential for the production of the body’s energy molecule (ATP) which is used for cell growth and repair. Organs such as our heart, liver and brain, and our muscle tissue, require large amounts of CoQ10 to function properly.
A common analogy is that of a spark plug - just as a car cannot function without the spark plug, the body cannot function without Co-enzyme Q10.
CoQ10 has benefits for brain health, healthy aging, energy production, high blood pressure (vasodilating effects), migraines even varicose veins. CoQ10 may also have neuroprotective effects.
This nutrient also has a role to play in cardiovascular health. It can help cut inflammation which plays a role in coronary disease. Many clinical studies suggest that CoQ10 supports healthy blood flow and heart muscle function.
CoQ10 has been an approved drug in Japan for congestive heart failure since 1974.
CoQ10 is vital for survival but does not always need to be taken as a supplement.
Along with our own production of the nutrient, you can find small amounts in foods like:
Pork, beef and chicken
Organ meat (Liver)
Fatty Fish and seafood - Salmon, herring, mackerel, trout
Cauliflower, broccoli and spinach
Nuts and seeds
As mentioned above, the body does make its own CoQ10 – but research suggests that supplementation is of benefit in certain cases as there is a potential for deficiency.
Why may we need to supplement
In some cases our production decreases and therefore we can't make enough and in other cases our CoQ10 needs increase to a level where we can't make enough.
Why might this happen?
- Impaired synthesis of CoQ10 due to nutritional deficiencies
- a genetic defect
- Age - after the age of 50 our CoQ10 needs increase as our levels begin to decline – just another perk!
- Heart and vascular disease including High BP and high cholesterol levels, angina or congestive heart failure
- Taking cholesterol reducing drugs - Statin drugs - reduce the production of CoQ10, therefore increasing our tissue needs
Statins and CoQ10
Statin drugs are prescribed to reduce production of cholesterol in the liver - they block a substance that the body needs to make cholesterol. Over 15 million Americans are on these cholesterol lowering drugs and many drug companies think that more people should be on them. In fact, there was even once talk about putting them in the water supply! I am not going to touch on the statin debate - do they work, don't they work - in this blog (save that one for another time!), but the reality is - they interfere with CoQ10 and cause CoQ10 deficiencies. So, if you are taking them, you may need to supplement with CoQ10.
If you feel that you may need to supplement with CoQ10 - if your needs may have increased or production decreased - here is a great product to try from a trusted brand - Genestra.
Try it for 20% off using the coupon code HEARTHEALTH20 for the month of February (2022)!
NOTE - It is smart to consult with your doctor if you are taking any other prescription meds to make sure that these nutrients won't interfere with their actions. But the enzyme has low toxicity and should not cause major side effects when taken.
The bottom line
The bottom line is that you need to covert the food you consume into energy so that your body can function So, you need CoQ10 in your system! You either need to efficiently produce it yourself to meet your own individual needs, or you need to consume enough of it in your diet to help top up those levels, or you need to keep your levels optimal by supplementing.
Any which way - You need it!