CoQ10 the missing link to healthy ageing and longevity

CoQ10 and healthy ageing

If you’re over 50, vegetarian and/or taking statins, then you may be surprised to discover you may be lacking a crucial nutrient linked to healthy ageing and longevity.

CoQ10 (coenzyme Q10) is a substance made naturally in the body, but as you grow older, levels start to decline. Statins also block the pathway for the production of CoQ10.

Crucially, CoQ10 is required for two key activities in the body. First it helps in the energy production cycle and second it is a potent antioxidant, protecting cells and organs from oxidative stress. Together these two actions have an essential role in determining the speed with which the body ages and the key to good health.

Energy production

CoQ10 and healthy ageing

CoQ10 is used in the energy production cycle. This is a complex chain of physiological actions within the mitochondria of our cells. The end product is the creation of units of energy known as ATP. Every cell has varying levels of mitochondria depending on the energy requirements. Muscle cells may have thousands of mitochondria to produce greater amounts of this ATP energy. You may not realise that your heart is a muscle and therefore has a high demand for CoQ10. 

It seems ironic to me that the very medication offered to protect heart health (statins) can block the very compound that helps to keep the heart pumping well.  It is one explanation why those on statins have muscle pain.

Protection from oxidative stress

CoQ10 and healthy ageing

Through the generation of energy metabolism, the body is constantly producing free radicals. Free radicals are also generated from barbecued or burnt food, sunlight, pollution, cigarette smoke and medications. 

These are dangerous, unstable molecules that damage our cells and DNA. They also damage the mitochondria- the very structures required to generate energy! Mitochondria damage is linked to many chronic diseases today, from cardiovascular disease to dementia

The body has its own internal system of antioxidants that neutralise these free radicals and stop harm to cells. Vitamins C and E and minerals zinc and selenium are common antioxidants. CoQ10 is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect cells and mitochondria.

However, if there is excess free radical production compared to the antioxidants available, then the body is exposed to oxidative stress that will damage the body. So keeping up your antioxidant status – including good levels of CoQ10, is essential to stop cellular and mitochondrial damage.

CoQ10 Natural Sources

CoQ10 and healthy ageing

CoQ10 is found in higher levels in oily fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines) and organ meats (liver and kidney). It is also found in lower levels in other meats (chicken, beef, pork) and small amounts in cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower), pulses, nuts and seeds. 

As we age and natural production starts to decline, ensuring you have a good dietary intake from the richest sources of food is important.

If you are vegetarian/vegan and/or on statins, I strongly recommend supplementation of CoQ10 100 mg daily usually in the form ubiquinol, which is the active better absorbed form.

And as an active approach to longevity and ageing well, this may be an important supplement for everyone to take in later years.

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Gut Health Nutritionist Caroline Peyton Principles
Caroline is a Professional Nutritionist, Naturopath based in Wiltshire.

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