Coenzyme Q10 or Co-Q10, might sound a little space age, but in reality it is a natural substance, found in the majority of food stuffs. Co-Q10 is not too dissimilar to our regular vitamins like E and D. It is also found in all plant and animal life. Co-Q10’s popularity over the past 10 years has sky rocketed.
This is down to some insightful and ground-breaking research. Though Co-Q10’s importance goes all the way back to research conducted in the late 60’s and 70’s, including nobel prize winning research.
What does it do?
Co-Q10’s primary function is to help us generate energy in our cells. Imagine that each cell in our body is like a small town. Each town has a powerplant or mitochondria, to help it produce energy for all the other components of the town, so that it works properly. Essentially the more Co-Q10 that the mitochondria (powerplant) have, the more energy that will be created. The more energy available for a cell, the cell can then perform and function better. Thus Q10 has become a popular supplement for cardiovascular health, including angina, blood pressure and several other cardio issues. Co-Q10 also acts as an antioxidant, a powerful one at that. It is capable of protecting the body from harm and damage (including areas like the brain, the heart, the lungs and the reproductive organs). Co-Q10 is also known to protect the DNA of cells. DNA strands are complex, naturally and very hard to repair. The body is superb at defense and protecting its cells, it just needs the raw materials to do so and Q10 can be an essential aid. Lastly, Q10 is capable of even regenerating other antioxidants like Vitamin E.
Why is it used in fertility?
Co-Q10 has been the interest of clinical studies on both male and female fertility for quite some time. For men, Co-Q10 has a role to play in helping to create sperm cells, the protection of the sperm cells and also as an energy converter for the cells to help them swim more efficiently. Men are creating sperm cells at a rapid rate. As this process requires energy, the more Q10 that is supplied means more cells are being created, but most importantly healthier cells. Q10 will help protect the cells when they are in the testicle and upon ejaculation, keeping that all important DNA ‘capsule’ protected.
Co-Q10 and female fertility is probably one of the most interesting aspects of fertility research. Recently, interest in Q10 and egg health has caught the fertility world by storm. A report from Canada initially sparked the frenzy. Mice who had been given Q10 made more follicles and better eggs than mice who were not given Q10. The research illustrated that the Q10 helped the older mice to produce eggs that were more like eggs from younger mice. A recent study, published in Fertility and Sterility, showed that supplementation of CoQ10 daily by older women improved both egg quality and fertilization rates.
Recent research has also shown that Co-Q10 can help pregnancy rates either naturally or in conjunction with assisted reproductive technologies. It has also been shown to improve DNA integrity in sperm and also semen quality.
Where to get it and how to take it?
This is always the question. Where do I get it and how much do I take? Most of the studies cited above are at doses of 300mg to 600mg. If you walk into your local health store or pharmacy, you will see preparations at around 30mg up to 100mg, usually. There are some exceptions for higher doses. A good study in Denmark, showed that average consumption of this nutrient from food on a daily basis is around 4mg a day. If you are going to consider supplementing Q10 to your diet, then it is good to know that without Magnesium, Folic Acid, Vitamin B1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 12 and Biotin, it will be quite hard to absorb and more importantly utilise. So always a good idea to make sure that there is a good multi going on or taking the nutrient as a complex and not just on its own. Foods that are relatively high in Co-Q10 are beef, herring, free range chicken, good quality oils (non-GM soy, canola, olive oil, rainbow trout, peanuts, hazelnuts and organic dark green veg. Frying destroys Q10, so when cooking meat, fish, veg up to 35% of the nutrient can be destroyed.