With roughly 75 trillion cells making up our body, it’s important to understand that true health isn’t just about major organs – even the smallest parts of our bodies, like our mitochondria, have an important role to play in keeping us healthy.
One of the vital enzymes that keeps our mitochondria functioning is known as coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10 – and the simple fact of the matter is, most of us are deficient in it without even knowing it.
CoQ10 serves to regenerate other antioxidants such as vitamin E, and help the mitochondria harvest energy from the food we eat. This is a big role for such little cells – roughly 75% of our energy is produced through the use of CoQ10(1).
But CoQ10 deficiency is a widespread problem, affecting the energy of countless individuals.
Are You CoQ10 Deficient? Watch For These Warning Signs
Because CoQ10 is so important in the production of energy, a deficiency can cause chronic fatigue, forgetfulness, depression, irritability, headaches and migraines, and a decreased immune system response leading to more frequent infections and minor illnesses(2).
The main source of CoQ10 in our bodies is biosynthesis where simple compounds are modified and converted into other compounds, or joined together to form macromolecules. Some genetic defects can cause reduced biosynthesis, as well as chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease, which not only reduce biosynthesis but also increase the body’s need for CoQ10(3).
But lifestyle factors can also contribute to low levels of this important enzyme. A poor diet and not enough exercise can increase your body’s demand for CoQ10, thereby depleting your CoQ10 levels.
Environmental factors, like pollution, and overall health factors, like chronic emotional stress, are known to deplete CoQ10 levels as well(4).
Chronic Illness And CoQ10 Deficiency
There is evidence that common cholesterol-lowering medications, known as statins, can lower CoQ10 production by almost half it’s normal rate(5). If you’re currently taking statins, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about CoQ10 supplementation, especially if you’re experiencing chronic fatigue.
But other illnesses can lower your CoQ10 levels as well. For example, cancer patients have been shown to have consistently low levels of the enzyme, a problem which can limit their ability to fight oxidative stress. Supplementing with CoQ10 has been shown to slow cancer growth in numerous studies(6).
Several major studies have shown that CoQ10 can reduce oxidative stress in our bodies and protect our DNA, making it a powerful anti-aging agent. It also promotes heart health by protecting against damage to the arterial lining(7).
Making Sure You’re Getting Enough CoQ10
Although they’re not typically very appealing, organ meats such as liver, heart and kidney are great sources of CoQ10. But other sources can be more appetizing: wild fish, grass-fed beef, and wild game are all good sources of the enzyme as well.
For vegetarians, nuts, seeds and cruciferous veggies also contain CoQ10, although in much lower levels than in meats.(8)
While the typical American diet is usually enough to supply us with our recommended daily dose of CoQ10, we produce less of the enzyme as we age, making supplementation necessary as we get older(9).