Coenzyme Q10 is both an endogenous enzyme cofactor and a fat-soluble antioxidant vitamin. It plays an essential role in energy production in every cell of the body. There is consensus that mitochondrial dysfunction plays a role in underlying pathological changes associated with aging and this includes brain aging.
The free radical mitochondrial theory proposes that cumulative oxidative injuries to mitochondria cause mitochondria to become progressively less efficient. Less efficient mitochondria mean less ATP, which means reduced function, this is as true for energy-hungry neurons as it is for any other cell in the body. In the human brain, a resting neuron consumes 4.7 billion ATPs per second (Zhu et al. 2012) – CoQ10 is essential for brain function.
How Coenzyme Q10 eases oxidative stress
Significant stressful events in life lead to increased oxidative stress in the brain (Schavioni et al. 2013). The antioxidant and cardioprotective effects of coenzyme Q10, therefore, make it an essential nutrient to consider whenever a patient is suffering increased stress.
As a fat-soluble antioxidant specifically used in the mitochondria, coenzyme Q10 is uniquely placed to reduce the burden of oxidative stress and in so doing plays an essential role in protecting our brain from premature ageing. CoQ10 acts as a buffer against the potentially damaging free radicals that result during oxidative phosphorylation in the inner mitochondrial membrane (Young, et al. 2007). CoQ10 stabilizes cell membranes and preserves cellular integrity and function. Vitamin E is recycled by CoQ10 by transforming Vitamin E radicals back to their reduced form (Kaikkonen et al. 2002).
Coenzyme Q10 and improved cognitive function
Clinical research has linked Coenzyme Q10 with improved cognitive function. In animal studies, it has been shown that CoQ10 protects the hippocampus and cerebral cortex from cognitive impairment and oxidative damage (Ishrat, et al. 2006). In patients with mild dementia and depression, CoQ10 was used alongside other nutrients and found to delay cognitive decline for 24 months and even improve cognition – especially frontal lobe activity (Bragin, et al. 2005).
In children with ADHD, CoQ10 reduced hyperactivity and was shown to alleviate the side-effects of atomoxetine as well as improving learning (Gamal et al. 2022).
Not only does CoQ10 improve cognitive function, but mental health benefits of CoQ10 have more recently also been uncovered. In a randomized controlled trial published in the journal Gynaecological Endocrinology earlier this year, it was shown that both anxiety and depression scores were significantly reduced after 12 weeks in women with PCOS (Karamali & Golizadeh, 2022). A multitude of endocrinological benefits were also noted (what I like to call side-benefits). Interestingly, mitochondrial dysfunction has emerged as a new therapeutic target in bipolar disorder and a meta-analysis (Maiti et al. 2021) indicated that CoQ10 may well have a place in addressing the mitochondrial dysfunction that is believed to underly this condition.
The majority of research mentioned used large doses of coenzyme Q10. This is mainly because of poor oral bioavailability due to CoQ10’s hydrophobic nature and large molecular size. Unfortunately, larger doses are often more costly, especially when dealing with a pathology where multiple therapeutic agents must be considered. Multiple doses are also required which makes compliance difficult.
Microactive CoQ10, the ingredient used in BioMax® CoQ10 offers a unique solution – a micronized coenzyme Q10 molecule complexed with a simple carbohydrate (β-cyclodextrin). This overcomes the molecular size issue and creates a hydrophilic molecule. The result is 3.7 times better bioavailability compared to regular coenzyme Q10 sources and double serum CoQ10 levels in only 3 weeks (Madhavi & Kagan, 2010). This novel approach allows practitioners to offer their clients clinically relevant doses without the need for multiple capsules.
Coenzyme Q10 is an essential co-factor in the process of ATP synthesis, it has significant antioxidant properties and has been clinically shown to be just as relevant in the neurological system as it is in the cardiovascular system. During times of stress, cardiovascular risk increases as does oxidative stress in the brain, cognition and focus declines and tiredness ensues. Therefore, coenzyme Q10 has an important role in nervous system health.
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Bragin, V., Chemodanova, M., Dzhafarova, N., Bragin, I., Czerniawski, J. L., & Aliev, G. (2005). Integrated treatment approach improves cognitive function in demented and clinically depressed patients. American journal of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, 20(1), 21–26. https://doi.org/10.1177/153331750502000103
Gamal, F., El Agami, O., & Salamah, A. (2022). Coenzyme Q10 in the Treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Children: A Randomized Controlled Trial. CNS & neurological disorders drug targets, 21(8), 717–723. https://doi.org/10.2174/1871527320666211124093345
Ishrat, T., Khan, M. B., Hoda, M. N., Yousuf, S., Ahmad, M., Ansari, M. A., Ahmad, A. S., & Islam, F. (2006). Coenzyme Q10 modulates cognitive impairment against intracerebroventricular injection of streptozotocin in rats. Behavioural brain research, 171(1), 9–16. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbr.2006.03.009
Kaikkonen, J., Tuomainen, T. P., Nyyssonen, K., & Salonen, J. T. (2002). Coenzyme Q10: absorption, antioxidative properties, determinants, and plasma levels. Free radical research, 36(4), 389–397. https://doi.org/10.1080/10715760290021234
Karamali, M., & Gholizadeh, M. (2022). The effects of coenzyme Q10 supplementation on metabolic profiles and parameters of mental health in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Gynecological endocrinology : the official journal of the International Society of Gynecological Endocrinology, 38(1), 45–49. https://doi.org/10.1080/09513590.2021.1991910
Madhavi, D., & Kagan, D. (2010). A Study on the Bioavailability of a Novel Sustained Release Coenzyme Q10-β-Cyclodextrin Complex. Integrative Medicine, 9(1), 20–24.
Maiti, R., Mishra, A., Mishra, B. R., & Jena, M. (2021). Comparative efficacy of mitochondrial agents for bipolar disorder during depressive episodes: a network meta-analysis using frequentist and Bayesian approaches. Psychopharmacology, 238(12), 3347–3356. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-021-06019-y
Schiavone, S., Jaquet, V., Trabace, L., & Krause, K. H. (2013). Severe life stress and oxidative stress in the brain: from animal models to human pathology. Antioxidants & redox signaling, 18(12), 1475–1490. https://doi.org/10.1089/ars.2012.4720
Young, A. J., Johnson, S., Steffens, D. C., & Doraiswamy, P. M. (2007). Coenzyme Q10: a review of its promise as a neuroprotectant. CNS spectrums, 12(1), 62–68. https://doi.org/10.1017/s1092852900020538
Zhu, X. H., Qiao, H., Du, F., Xiong, Q., Liu, X., Zhang, X., Ugurbil, K., & Chen, W. (2012). Quantitative imaging of energy expenditure in human brain. NeuroImage, 60(4), 2107–2117. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.02.013