Coenzyme Q10 (most often referred to as CoQ10) is a fat-soluble compound that your body makes naturally and stores in the mitochondria of your cells. In particular, it stores CoQ10 in vital organs, such as the heart, lungs, and liver. It creates energy within your cells and functions as an antioxidant, protecting your cells from free radical damage that can lead to serious diseases. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules containing oxygen in the body.
There are two types of CoQ10: ubiquinone and ubiquinol. Ubiquinol is the active form that your body makes from ubiquinone. Your levels of both forms drop as early as your twenties, and your body loses the ability to make more.
Age isn’t all that affects your CoQ10 levels. Other causes of deficiency include:
- Certain vitamin deficiencies, such as vitamin B6
- Mitochondrial diseases
- Genetic defects that affect CoQ10 production
- Oxidative stress, or an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants
A diet including foods high in CoQ10 helps keep enough of the compound in your body, especially if your body isn’t making enough itself. CoQ10 may also help protect the health of your heart and reproductive system.
Why You Need CoQ10
CoQ10 is important for your cells. It mainly helps the cells produce energy. It helps make adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which plays a role in energy transfer.
CoQ10 has other functions in the body as well, such as:
Risk factors for heart failure, such as high blood pressure and coronary heart disease, often lead to oxidative stress and cell damage. Studies show that CoQ10 can improve symptoms and reduce the risk of heart-related complications. It may also reduce the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.
Both female eggs and male sperm are susceptible to oxidative damage. CoQ10 may help stop, and even reverse, the decline in egg quantity and quality as women age. Studies also show that the compound could improve sperm activity and concentration, boosting fertility.
CoQ10 lives mainly in the mitochondria of your cells. It helps improve cell function, which can reduce inflammation during a migraine. It could reduce and even prevent migraine headaches.
Foods High in CoQ10
While many people’s bodies make all the CoQ10 they need, some don’t. The whole body content is between 500 and 1,500 milligrams, and it decreases with age. In many cases, a doctor might recommend a CoQ10 supplement. There are no known ideal dosages, as everyone’s needs vary. Standard dosages for CoQ10 supplements range between 60 and 500 milligrams daily, and the highest recommended daily dose is around 1,200 milligrams.
You can also find CoQ10 in many foods, but dietary sources have much less than supplements. For some, supplements and a healthy diet may be necessary to get enough in your body. Some foods with CoQ10 include:
1. Organ Meats
CoQ10 lives in cells throughout the body mostly concentrated in vital organs. This means animal organ meats have the highest amounts of CoQ10 per 100 grams. For instance, a beef heart has 11.3 milligrams, and a beef liver has 3.9 milligrams. A chicken heart has 9.2 milligrams and liver has 11.6 milligrams.
2. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish like trout, mackerel, and sardines contain CoQ10. Mackerel provides about 6.75 milligrams per 100 grams and trout provides 0.85 milligrams.
It’s not just animal organs that provide CoQ10. Since it lives throughout the body, it is present in all meat forms. Beef offers about 3.1 milligrams per 100 grams, chicken has 1.4 milligrams, and pork has 2.4 milligrams. Reindeer meat provides about 15.8 milligrams.
Soybean products such as tofu, soy milk, and soy yogurt are a valuable protein source for people who don’t eat meat. Soybeans also have many other vitamins and minerals, as well as CoQ10. Boiled soybeans have 1.2 milligrams per 100 grams. Other soy products contain less, with tofu at 0.3 milligrams and soy milk at 0.25 milligrams.
Along with many vitamins and minerals, a lot of vegetables contain CoQ10. Among them, broccoli has high CoQ10 content, weighing in at 0.6 to 0.86 milligrams per 100 grams.
6. Nuts and Seeds
Along with protein, heart-healthy fats, and other important nutrients, nuts and seeds provide CoQ10, as well. Pistachios have 2 milligrams of CoQ10 per 100-gram serving, peanuts have 2.6 milligrams, and sesame seeds have 1.7 milligrams.