Coenzyme Q10. The Holy Grail Of Anti-Aging
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, J.D., Founder
Many people resent getting older. But in reality, aging is a privilege that not everyone is fortunate to receive.
Perhaps we would approach aging differently if we were educated and armed with the education and tools necessary to age as healthily as possible. In fact, many of us are of the opionion that getting older will just inevitably bring aches and pains and even disease. The truth is there is actually a lot we can do to age not just “gracefully” but also (and more importantly) in a way that impedes fragility. We may not be our 20-year-old selves forever, but we don’t have to approach aging as a transition to weakness and disease. We can be extremely proactive.
According to BMJ Medicine, “Fragility is a physiological syndrome characterized by diminished reserves and reduced resistance to stressors as a result of the cumulative decline of multiple physiological systems that increase vulnerability to adverse health outcomes, among which are: risk of acute diseases, falls and their consequences (injuries, fractures), hospitalization, institutionalization (nursing home), disability, dependency and death.”
Simply put, as we age, our bodies slowly lose the ability to absorb nutrients as efficiently as it used to. This nutrient decline may affect our immune system and increase the likelihood of poor health outcomes and diseases.
One common indicator of fragility is sarcopenia (age-related muscle loss). Sarcopenia greatly increases the risk of fragility.
So when does fragility begin?
Of course, depending on factors such as genetics and lifestyle, this may vary from person to person. However, in general, people 65 and up are considered elderly and more frail. But I refuse to accept that someone 65-years-young is elderly and frail, not because I am resistant to aging but because there are people 75 and older who are not frail.
Take, for example, 80-something-year-old bodybuilder Ernestine Shepherd. There are even marathon runners in their 90s. If you are thinking that some people are just genetic outliers, I want you to remember that genetics are a very small piece of the puzzle. There is so much you can do to help prevent and delay fragility, and perhaps the most important is knowing exactly what your body needs.
Coenzyme Q10. Just what your body's cells need.
Coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant that is naturally present in all of our bodies’ cells. It is especially present in the mitochondrial membranes. Almost every cell in our bodies has several thousand mitochondria. They process oxygen and help convert food into energy. More specifically, mitochondria help metabolize and break down carbohydrates and fatty acids. They make 90 percent of the energy our bodies need to function properly. So to say that they have an important job in keeping us healthy is an understatement.
Levels of coenzyme Q10 decrease with age. Lower levels of this key antioxidant are also found in people with conditions such as heart disease (which so many Americans have) and even in those who take statins (drugs that lower cholesterol). So imagine this…
- You are 65 or older
- You have heart disease
- You take statins
This is a common scenario for many, and it’s a perfect storm for a major deficiency in coenzyme Q10.
“The Q10 coenzyme is vital. If cellular mitochondria are the body’s batteries, this lipid is their charger, being responsible for the transport of electrons and also serving as a key antioxidant for the proper working of the body,” according to one report.
“A deficiency of Q10, which is linked to aging, generates an energy insufficiency that is related to mitochondrial conditions, cardiac diseases, strokes and neurodegenerative pathologies, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s.”
The report just mentioned discusses a new study which found evidence suggesting that low levels of coenzyme Q10 are associated with sarcopenia. And ladies, the study also found that this problem appears to be more common in women. Osteoporosis, another major cause of fragility, is also more common in women, so females need to be especially proactive.
Essentially, the study reveals that a coenzyme Q10 deficiency may be the reason why many people become frail after the age of 65.
“Older people who have more symptoms or markers of fragility have less Q10 enzyme in their blood plasma,” said one of the lead researchers in the report.
Furthermore, “Levels of Q10 fall with lower levels of physical activity, and the lower these levels, the lower the capacity to exercise. It’s a vicious circle and a dramatic one, because functionality is lost as well as the ability to get it back.”
It is also important to note that conditions such as diabetes and neurodegenerative disorders can also cause a deficiency in this very important antioxidant.
How can we be proactive?
As always, prevention is better than cure. I cannot stress enough how important it is to lead a healthy lifestyle in order to prevent metabolic issues such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, obesity and heart disease. Having such conditions is a sure way to accelerate a loss of coenzyme Q10. If you have already been diagnosed with one or more of these conditions, it is never too late to be proactive and reverse it through regular exercise, following a mainly plant-based diet and eliminating alcohol and quitting smoking if you smoke. The report that discusses the study also suggests following a Mediterranean diet to help prevent nutrient deficiency.
Exercise is a great way to help prevent a coenzyme Q10 deficiency. No matter your age or fitness level, do whatever exercise you can whether it’s walking or yoga. If possible, incorporate resistance training into your exercise routine a few times a week. Building muscle helps prevent age-related muscle loss. Getting enough protein is also key in building and maintaining muscle (especially as we age).
Supplement the right way.
It may be necessary for you to take a supplement, however, it is a good idea to seek the advice of a competent healthcare professional. Ask about taking a coenzyme Q10 blood test in order to definitively determine if you have a deficiency. I also highly recommend taking a comprehensive nutrient test that will reveal other deficiencies and imbalances you might have that can accelerate aging and fragility. Once you know where you stand, your healthcare provider can come up with a personal diet and supplement plan.
For more proactive tips on healthy aging, check out these pH Labs blogs.
Remember, age is really just a number, and we control how that number impacts our health and wellbeing.
Enjoy your healthy life!
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses, and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products, and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.