Nutrient of the Month: Coenzyme Q10

In the lead story this month, I discuss dietary supplements that help support heart health. One of the most important is coenzyme Q10 (or CoQ10). 

This coenzyme is a vital nutrient that is naturally produced by the body. In fact, it’s found in every single cell in your body—and the heart has the highest concentration of it.  

CoQ10 plays a critical role in cellular metabolism, carried out by your mitochondria (your cells’ energy factories). It helps the mitochondria do their job better—providing enough energy to the heart to keep it pumping throughout the day (not to mention providing water for direct hydration to the heart cells). 

This nutrient also acts as an antioxidant, protecting all of your cells and cell membranes from oxidative damage. This is important because oxidative damage can lead to dangerous, chronic heart problems.  

CoQ10 also helps your body “regenerate” the antioxidant vitamins C and E, preventing deficiencies.  

If that weren’t enough, CoQ10 supports your immune system and helps ward off chronic inflammation, too. Remember, chronic inflammation plays a major role in the development of chronic diseases, and especially heart disease. 

Unfortunately, as you get older, your body stops producing as much CoQ10 as it did before. And to make matters worse, research shows that cholesterol-lowering statin drugs further impair CoQ10 production and cellular metabolism. (Yet another reason to stay away from them if you can!) 

Consequently, I believe that anyone taking a statin must always supplement with CoQ10. (In fact, about 25 years ago, a big pharma manufacturer took out a patent application for a statin–CoQ10 combination formula. But it never brought the product to market. When I asked why not, the company’s answer was “no comment.”)  

But even if you’ve made the good choice not to take a statin, it’s still a good idea to boost your levels of this important nutrient…especially as you age…through diet and supplementation.  

CoQ10 is naturally found in organ meats (like liver), fatty fish (like salmon), spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, oranges, strawberries, lentils, peanuts, pistachios, and sesame seeds. (All part of the healthy, balanced Mediterranean diet.) 

I also recommend 200 mg per day of a high-quality CoQ10 supplement (think of the Q in CoQ10 as standing for “quality.”)