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CoQ10: The Longevity Factor

Co-enzyme Q10 is an enzyme co-factor found within your body that is necessary for your cells' basic functions.

CoQ10 has been used for many years as a natural way to aid in treating heart failure, cancer, high blood pressure, Parkinson's disease, diabetes, and overall extending your life span.

According to the mitochondrial theory of aging, oxidant damage to your mitochondria is the main reason for aging. So, the higher the oxidant damage, the shorter the life span.

In a recent study, mice that were supplemented with CoQ10 lived longer. In one case, animals that were supplemented experienced an 11.7 percent increase in mean life span, and a 24 percent increase in maximum life span.

Why else is CoQ10 important for your life expectancy and overall health?

Dr. Mike shares the many benefits of CoQ10 and how it can lengthen your life expectancy.

RadioMD Presents:Healthy Talk | Original Air Date: March 9, 2015
Host: Michael Smith, MD

Anti-aging and disease prevention radio is right here on RadioMD. Here's author, blogger and lecturer and national medical media personality Dr. Michael Smith, MD with Healthy Talk.

One of my foundational supplements, CoQ10 is a longevity factor. That's right. It can help you live healthier longer. Very simple supplement. Maybe, what? Twenty bucks a month and it can have such a huge impact on every cell in your body. Well, you know what? That's not true.

There's one cell line that CoQ10 doesn't affect and that's the red blood cell because they don't have any mitochondria. Red blood cells are just basically packed with iron and oxygen and that's it. So, minus the red blood cell, CoQ10 is good for every other cell in your body and it helps cells produce energy and to function at a youthful level. That's important.

One of the leading theories of aging is mitochondrial decay or loss of cell energy production. It's one of the oldest theories of aging and the research goes all the way back into the 1950's looking at worms and what the mitochondria do and what happens when you take away mitochondria. So, mitochondria play such a key role in overall cell health and CoQ10 is a key compound for the mitochondria.

Just a quick review. You know, we call the mitochondria the powerhouse of the cell. It's where the energy currency, the cellular energy, is made, (ATP, adenosine triphosphate). If you've ever wondered why is ATP energy? What does that mean? Well, it's a chemical compound that has 3 phosphates.

That's the triphosphate—adenosine triphosphate. Those 3 phosphate bonds are high energy bonds and when you break them, it releases energy. It's exothermic. Heat and energy are released which then can drive other functions for the cell. So now, how do you make ATP? Because it's kind of important to understand all this.

To understand why mitochondria decay is so detrimental to the health of the cell, you have to understand how we make ATP. Well, sugar is needed (glucose) and so is oxygen. Sugar and oxygen get together in the mitochondria and they undergo all kinds of different reactions, but the end result is ATP. Okay? The energy currency. Well, I want you to think about something for a moment. I always teach in my lectures that everything in life has a flipside—has a dark side, if you will. Right? I mean, we need sugar. We need oxygen to make ATP, but the flipside, the dark side to sugar—especially if there's too much of it--is something called glycation which is a very destructive reaction.

The flipside—the dark side-- to oxygen is oxidative stress which is also very damaging. That's why we need antioxidants. So, here you have a situation where a vast majority of the sugar in the body and a vast majority of the oxygen in the body are concentrating in these little powerhouses called the mitochondria. So, guess what? Mitochondria really suffer most of the glycation and oxidative stress in the body. So, they do become dysfunctional and they become damaged and it becomes important that if we want to live healthier and longer, that we have to protect them and promote energy production from them and maybe even produce new ones—produce new mitochondria. Wouldn't that be awesome?

So, here we have a situation where one of the leading theories of aging, mitochondrial decay, is also directly associated with one of its key compounds, CoQ10. CoQ10 works in the mitochondria. Research has shown that if you remove CoQ10, and the original research was done in worms, mechanisms of aging and development, in 2004, showed that if you remove CoQ10 from the worm, I think it was C-elegans they used, the result is premature death in these worms.

Well, what they noticed first was that these worms started to act old. I'm not sure how they really measure that a worm is acting old, but here are ways that they can look at a worm and say, "That worm's not doing so well. This one is." And, the first thing they noticed was that these worms were acting old, and then, they died young. Here's what was interesting, though. If you added CoQ10 back in, everything reversed. The aging reversed; there was restoration of more youthful function. Now, you might be thinking, "Okay. That's great. But, that's a worm. Does that really correlate with what goes on in human?" Well, probably not, but we're now taking those worm studies and moving up the animal kingdom and we're looking at the same type of thing in mice. There was a study recently.

As a matter of fact, this was just published last week and I haven't had a chance to review everything completely, but it came across my desk as I was preparing to do this newsletter for Life Extension and it was the same basic set up. They took some mice. They were able to genetically engineer these mice to remove the CoQ10, pretty much at will, and then replace it at will. When they removed the CoQ10 from the mice in the study, yes, they started to dysfunction.

Now, with mice, I do know how they look at function. They look at how they do mazes, if they remember a maze, where the food is, that kind of stuff. Even swimming. All of those kinds of things got worse when they removed the CoQ10 and the mice that didn't get the CoQ10 back, they died young. I mean, it's just a confirmation of what we learned in the worm study. When you replaced the CoQ10, they did better. Age restored. Youthful function restored. So, we see the importance of CoQ10 to the mitochondria and then, of course, the mitochondria to the overall health and longevity of the organism.

So, as a matter of fact we have seen some other mice studies. There was one published also in 2004 Experimental Gerontology where mice supplemented with CoQ10 lived longer. In one case supplemented animals experienced a 11.7% increase in mean lifespan and a 24% increase in maximum lifespan. That increase translates into the equivalent of humans gaining over 9 years based on today's life expectancy of 78.5 years.

So, there you go.

So, there's an animal model—and a mouse is pretty close to a human—moving away from the worms, showing the importance of CoQ10 to overall longevity.

Listen, regardless of the effect on longevity, I consider CoQ10 a foundational supplement simply because it's so important in cell energy production. If you have a muscle cell or a gut cell or a brain cell, whatever the cell line, that cell has a certain job it needs to do. In many cases, several jobs it needs to do and it needs energy to do that.

I mean, it's not that hard to figure out that we need to help our cells in our body produce energy throughout our lifetime and that's going to help us live healthier longer. Accordingly to a mouse study, if you do the math into humans, we're talking CoQ10 can increase your life by 9 years. Now, that's not a direct correlation, but you know, when you do the math, that's the extrapolation based on that mouse study and Experimental Gerontology in 2004.

So, CoQ10 is a foundational supplement and I'm encouraging all my listeners to take it. Now, there's two forms: ubiquinone and ubiquinol. Ubiquinone is the old form. It was good a few years ago, but there's a better form: ubiquinol. Ubiquinol is simply a form that absorbs better.

It delivers into the mitochondria better and you'e going to get better function and cell energy production. So, you want to be doing ubiquinol CoQ10. What dose? Well, on average probably 100-200mg a day. If you really want to know what your dose is, you can do a CoQ10 blood test. We can look at how much CoQ10 is in your blood and we can pinpoint the best dose for you.

But, without knowing that, if I had to guess: 100-200mg of ubiquinol CoQ10 will help every cell, except the red blood cell, in your body.

This is Healthy Talk on RadioMD. I'm Dr. Mike. Stay well.