You may be wondering, “What is CoQ10? Is it a vitamin? Can we consider it a nootropic?”. If so, how does CoQ10 benefit the brain?
Luckily for you, I had a lot of the same questions myself, and this article is going to provide you with some clarity.
CoQ10 is taken as a supplement by most people to increase their energy levels, boost their immune system, improve their heart health, their mental clarity, and age a little more gracefully.
We also know that CoQ10 is a powerful antioxidant, prevents neurodegenerative diseases, improves cognition, and can help with depression.
But why? And how?
In order to answer these questions, we’ll have to look at the specifics.
Let’s dig in!
What is CoQ10?
CoQ10 is a protein found in all tissues of the body.
Since it’s so common, or ubiquitous, it’s also known as ‘Ubiquinone’. (Sorry guys, scientists aren’t always known for being original)
CoQ10 was first identified in 1940, and was later isolated from beef hearts in 1957 by Dr. Frederick Crane.(bit of history for you)
Basically, the amount of CoQ10 in the cells of the body varies with the type of tissue. CoQ10 is present in higher concentrations in the heart, liver, kidneys, and (last but not least) the brain.
These organs need tons of energy to function, and CoQ10 is essential for energy metabolism.
CoQ10 occupies cellular membranes, and acts as an electron carrier for chemical reactions involving nutrients like fats being converted to ATP.
ATP, or adenine triphosphate is a molecule that can be used for energy throughout the body. ATP is to the body what a dollar is to the economy.
It’s the most basic medium of exchange, only for chemical energy.
For those of you that fell asleep in high school science (no judgement here), there are tiny organelles inside each of our cells called mitochondria.
Think of mitochondria as ‘cells inside our cells’, if that helps.
Mitochondria process energy, and as a result are present in greater numbers in the organs that need the most energy; the heart, liver, kidneys, and brain.
So naturally, this is why we see more CoQ10 in these same organs.
Greater energy needs means more mitochondria, which results in more CoQ10. Now we’ve come full circle.
Clear as mud, right?
I know what you’re thinking, “Thanks Mr. Science, but how does that help me?”.
Don’t worry, we’re getting there, I promise.
CoQ10 Benefits – for The Body
CoQ10 is present in some of the foods we eat, especially fatty foods.
Beef, oily fish, nuts, seeds, and avocados are all good sources.
The body is also able to synthesize a decent amount of CoQ10 from other compounds in the body.
However, we usually use CoQ10 faster than we can ingest it or make it.
That’s why taking it as a supplement has been found to have a lot of benefits.
Just to give you an idea, this is a list of some of the physical ailments CoQ10 is used to help with:
- Cardiovascular Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Radiation Injuries
- Age Related Decline
This is not an exhaustive list, by any means, but I didn’t want to overwhelm you with all the possible uses of CoQ10.
Unfortunately, our ability to create CoQ10 ourselves also diminishes as we get older, so deficiencies are more common in older folks.
It’s also interesting to note that some people absorb CoQ10 better than others, depending on their body chemistry.
In any case, since we need CoQ10 to process energy, we get tired when we don’t have enough.
That’s why we see a lot of people, young and old, using it as an energy booster.
The tissues and cells in the immune system also use a lot of energy, so supplementing with CoQ10 naturally optimizes their performance.
Finally, CoQ10 is also a very potent antioxidant.
It has the ability to soak up free radicals, preventing tissue damage and inflammation.
So to give it to you in a short list (I like lists), supplementing with CoQ10 can benefit our physical health by:
- Increasing Energy Levels
- Boosting the Immune System
- Acting as an Antioxidant
So do any of these advantages spill over into cognitive function? Can CoQ10 help the mind as well as the body?
Let’s have a look, shall we?
How does CoQ10 Benefit the Brain?
The brain is a spongy, fatty organ absolutely packed with mitochondria that’s always hungry for more CoQ10.
Give it what it wants, and it will perform at a higher level.
- CoQ10 for Memory – A clinical study on middle aged diabetic rats found that when compared to a control group, rats given CoQ10 as a supplement performed better on memory tests. These findings support research done on elderly patients with neurological disorders like Parkinson’s.
- CoQ10 for Disease Prevention – The combined effects of increasing mitochondria health, and protecting neurons from oxidative stress have been found in numerous studies to prevent Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, and Parkinson’s disease. This is a strong indicator that CoQ10 is excellent for overall brain health.
- CoQ10 for Depression – Plasma levels of CoQ10 have been found to be over 50% lower in people suffering from depression. The lower energy levels that can result from CoQ10 deficiency typically make depression worse. CoQ10 supplementation can help reverse these effects.
Granted, CoQ10 is not the most powerful nootropic. It’s better known for it’s ability to help with overall vitality, and perhaps help turn back the clock.
But there are some fascinating tips and tricks I’d like to share with you to make CoQ10 more effective.
Check this out!
CoQ10 and PQQ – The Perfect Combination?
Chocolate and peanut butter.
Wine and cheese.
Beer and nuts.
You get the idea. Some things are just better together. CoQ10 and PQQ are no exception.
Those of you that have done a bit of reading may be asking, “Don’t they basically do the same thing?”.
No. Not quite.
PQQ is another micronutrient that influences energy metabolism, but it does so by increasing the number of mitochondria.
CoQ10 increases the activity of the mitochondria.
That’s the difference.
When these two micronutrients are taken together, they’re way more effective than when used individually.
Let’s move on.
How can we take CoQ10 for best results, aside from taking it together with PQQ?
Is it safe?
Are there any risks associated with its’ use?
Let’s find out…
CoQ10 Side Effects – Dosage Notes
I have good news.
Since CoQ10 is a naturally occurring compound already found in the body, the potential side effects from supplementing with it are pretty rare.
Mega-dosing is actually the main cause of adverse effects with CoQ10.
I mentioned earlier that absorption rates vary widely with individual body chemistry and age. We also lose the ability to make our own CoQ10 as we get older.
As a result, older individuals should reasonably expect to need more CoQ10 as a supplement, and the recommended dosage has a pretty wide range; 30mg to 400mg per day.
Mega-dosing is when someone is taking 500mg/day or more, and it’s usually not necessary.
Generally speaking, most folks should start off at 200 mg/day to see how they feel. If they find that it’s to much or too little, they can adjust their intake.
CoQ10 is also a fat soluble nutrient, so you can increase its’ absorption by taking it with a high quality fat.
A few teaspoons of organic coconut or olive oil should work just fine.
It’s also worth mentioning that CoQ10 can affect blood pressure, blood sugar, and can thin the blood.
So please consult your doctor before taking CoQ10 as a supplement if you are:
- Using Blood Pressure Meds
- Using Blood Thinning Meds
Some of the more unusual side effects that can be experienced are:
- Abdominal pain
- Light Sensitivity
Fortunately, these symptoms are unusual. Most people supplementing with CoQ10 get to enjoy the following benefits:
- Increased Energy
- Better Mental Clarity
- Faster Reaction Times
All in all, CoQ10 is very safe. But if you do run into any issues, just stop taking it.
OK. I think we’re about ready to wrap things up here.
Let’s take stock of what we’ve learned about CoQ10, shall we?
Who should take CoQ10? – Final Recommendations
So how does CoQ10 benefit the brain?
CoQ10 has been called a vitamin, even in scientific papers.
So if you were confused by that, don’t feel bad, it’s absolutely not your fault.
Just to be clear, though, CoQ10 is not a vitamin. It’s a protein. It acts like a vitamin by supporting energy metabolism as a coenzyme.
What’s a coenzyme?
Coenzymes are molecules that act as a ‘go between’ in a chemical reaction to make the reaction happen faster and more efficiently.
They’re basically facilitators or support ingredients.
B vitamins do the same thing, only with water soluble nutrients, and that’s why people often label CoQ10 as a vitamin as well.
Since CoQ10 makes energy reactions more efficient, it’s best known for increasing energy levels when taken as a supplement.
It’s also a very potent antioxidant, which means it can help prevent tissue damage and inflammation.
These combined effects improve overall brain health, as well as enhance cognitive function.
So who should use CoQ10?
I would say it’s a good option for anyone looking to:
- Increase Energy Levels
- Boost their Immune System
- Improve Mental Clarity
- Prevent Neurodegenerative Diseases
- Age Better
I’d also highly recommend finding a supplement that combines CoQ10 with PQQ, and taking it with a high quality fat.
A few teaspoons of organic coconut oil or olive oil would do the trick.
All right, that’s about all I had to share with you about CoQ10 today.
If you think of any questions, by all means, leave a comment below. I’ll get right back to you.
In my next article, I’ll be talking about Mind Lab Pro and ADHD.
Mind Lab Pro has been recognized as a good nutritional supplement for brain health, but how well does it counteract the symptoms of ADHD?
That’s the question I’ll be trying to answer…
Until next time,
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