Q10 as a natural anti-ageing remedy that can also prevent chronic disease and early death
The number of seniors in the world is growing. It hardly comes as a surprise that old people wish to stay mentally and physically fit and enjoy every minute of the of life. Nonetheless, many middle-aged and older people feel tired and lethargic, or they suffer from chronic diseases that impair their quality of life and are associated with shorter life expectancy. In his book, Coenzyme Q10 – An Insider’s Guide, Dr. William V. Judy looks closer at how Q10 is able to delay the ageing process at a cellular level by increasing energy levels, supporting heart health, and preventing atherosclerosis and other chronic diseases that are linked to ageing. Combined supplementation with Q10 and selenium can even delay the risk of early death by over 50 percent. Dr. Judy makes a point of saying how important it is to choose pharmaceutical-grade Q10 that the body can absorb and utilize.
Dr. William V. Judy, a healthy man in his 80s, is one of the leading figures in Q10 science. He is founder and president of the SIBR Research Institute and has his own personal experience with Q10. At the age of 60, Dr. Judy suffered a potentially fatal heart attack and started taking large doses of Q10 that his wife brought with her to the hospital. He recovered surprisingly fast, and even though he got a pacemaker later on because of the tissue damage he had sustained from the heart attack, he has been able to work full throttle, travel all over the world and give lectures, and enjoy life with his family, which even includes grandchildren. Thanks to the Q10 supplement, which, according to himself, has saved his life, he is still able to stay physically and mentally on top of things.
Age is not a disease
Human health and life expectancy hinge on a number of different factors including genetics, environment, diet, and lifestyle. Even if you are genetically predisposed to a certain disease, it is typically genetic, environmental, dietary, or lifestyle-associated factors that trigger the responsible genes. Put differently, there is a lot we can do ourselves in terms of prevention.
Chronic diseases are the major cause of death, and they are also linked to impaired quality of life, partly due to the disease itself, and partly due to the side effects that often follow in the wake of the medicine that is prescribed as treatment.
At an ICQA (International Coenzyme Q10 Association) conference in 2018 at Columbia University, New York, one of the lecturers said: “Ageing is not a disease.” Another lecturer said: “Ageing is something we can influence ourselves.” Both lecturers addressed the fact that Q10 supplementation can help us feel more energetic and youthful, even at a ripe age – and many studies confirm this.
The topic is highly relevant, especially because of the growing number of seniors across the globe, which is a challenge in terms of health, health care, and public finances. Let’s start by looking at ageing and what this involves. The characteristics of ageing and biological age
- An older person (say, 65-85 years) and someone really old (85 years and older) have a different physical appearance than someone, who is younger. Ageing is a gradual process entails:
- Loss of bone and muscle mass
- Reduced energy levels
- Loss of cognitive skills
- Increased risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and various neurological disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
- Impaired blood sugar metabolism and increased risk of type 2 diabetes
- Impaired nutrient uptake and digestion
- Weakened immune system
The only thing that doesn’t change with time is the date on your birth certificate. Even though we think of our birth date as irrefutable proof of our age, there is actually also the phenomenon known as biological age, which expresses a person’s condition, physically and mentally. A person can easily be 65 years of age, yet have a biological age of 50 years or so – and vice versa.
|According to William V. Judy, one of the most characteristic features of ageing is reduced levels of Q10 in the blood. This affects a host of vital functions.|
Mechanisms of ageing
There doesn’t seem to be specific genes that predispose to early or late ageing, but science has identified different mechanisms that reveal how ageing works. In brief, this is what to look for
- Oxidative damage caused by free radicals
- DNA damage
- Protein damage
- Dysfunctions of cellular signaling
- Mitochondrial dysfunctions (the mitochondria are the cellular powerhouses that make energy)
- Subsequent tissue and organ dysfunctions
Q10 protects against ageing in several ways
Q10 is a remarkable molecule that controls the energy turnover in all cells. Without the presence of Q10, you would drop dead within seconds. The body makes most of its own Q10, with the liver as its main supplier. Energy-requiring organs like the heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, and brain contain the largest concentrations of Q10.
There are two forms of Q10:
- Ubiquinone – the oxidized form of Q10 that is primarily involved in cellular energy turnover. This form is mainly found inside the mitochondria
- Ubiquinol – the non-oxidized (reduced) form of Q10 that mainly serves as an antioxidant. This form is mainly found in the blood
Helped by enzymes, ubiquinone and ubiquinol are constantly converted back and forth from one form to the other, depending on kind of Q10 the body needs for specific tasks. In humans, Q10 has the following functions:
- Helps control mitochondrial energy turnover (ATP)
- Works as an antioxidant by protecting lipids, cells, and mitochondria against free radicals
- Involved in the activation of DNA and proteins that are important for cell signaling
- Involved in the repair of damaged DNA
- Counteracts oxidative stress
- Improves endothelial cell function and protects against atherosclerosis
- Counteracts inflammation that is involved in most chronic diseases, even if they go unnoticed
Our ability to produce Q10 decreases with age – and in certain other situations
The body’s ability to synthesize Q10 peaks in your early 20s, from which point it embarks on a gradual decline that continues for the rest of your life. A person aged 65 will therefore only produce about half as much Q10 as someone aged 25. Other factors that interfere with the body’s Q10 synthesis are cholesterol-lowering medicine (statins), certain diseases, and even physical inactivity.
When levels of Q10 in the blood go down, it affects cellular energy turnover and organs such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, and brain that require enormous amounts of energy to function properly. Cells also become increasingly vulnerable to oxidative stress, which is a common thread in ageing and many chronic ailments.
The figure shows the age-related drop in Q10 concentrations in various organs
Q10 protects against oxidative stress and molecular damage
Oxidative stress is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants.
Free radicals are a natural byproduct of our respiration, but they are also generated by ageing processes, stress, inflammation, poisoning, tobacco smoke, and radiation. Free radicals are aggressive molecules with an unpaired electron. In a desperate attempt to replace the missing electron, a free radical snatches the missing electron from another molecule, thereby turning it into a new free radical. This sets off a chain reaction that spreads like a bushfire through cells and tissues. Lipids in the cell membranes, DNA, and the mitochondria are particularly vulnerable to oxidative damage. Free radical attacks can be compared to rust in a car that causes gradual corrosion of the vehicle.
A leading scientist such as the renowned cell biologist, Bruce H. Lipton, thinks of the cell membrane as the cell’s brain that uses signals to instruct the cell nucleus about what genes it needs to activate. Therefore, oxidative damage to the cell membrane is especially troubling, an it is also a problem when the mitochondria are attacked, as they have their own DNA (mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA) and carry out numerous functions such as regulating cell metabolism, calcium signaling, synthesis of steroid hormones, control of membrane potential, and apoptosis (programmed cell death). Our only source of protection against the devastating free radicals is the presence of various antioxidants. Here, Q10 plays a very special role, ad no other antioxidant can replace it. Q10 is unique in that respect.
|Many ageing processes are caused by malfunctioning mitochondria.|
Lack of Q10 may result in dementia
The brain uses massive amounts of energy and is therefore highly dependent on Q10. Everybody wants to remain mentally alert right to the end but, unfortunately, many old people are affected by dementia, which is chiefly characterized by poor recollection and an impaired ability to handle everyday tasks. Dementia can be insidious. To begin with, it can be difficult to determine if it is age-related memory loss or dementia. A Japanese study that is published in Atherosclerosis shows that low Q10 levels in the blood are linked to an increased risk of developing dementia, so the researchers now assume that blood levels of Q10 can help predict the risk of developing the condition.
Q10’s ability to protect against dementia hinges on several factors: Q10 supports the energy turnover in cells, it protects the neurons and mitochondria against free radicals and oxidative stress, and it protects against atherosclerosis in the brain.
Q10, muscles, training, and vitality
With age, the oxidative destruction of mitochondrial DNA in muscle cells increases, contributing to the age-related loss of muscle mass. Q10 supplementation helps reduce the oxidative damage and reduces the loss of muscle tissue, especially when combined with exercise or other activities that stimulate the muscles. Interestingly, elderly individuals that are physically active have relatively high concentrations of Q10 in their blood.
A Swedish study of older men and women, who took daily supplements of Q10 and selenium yeast for several years, showed that the supplements improved their physical condition and increased their vitality. The KiSel-10 study, as it is named, is viewed as groundbreaking research.
The Q10 molecules function as a unique redox pair
Q10’s unique ability to function in both a non-oxidized and an oxidized form is called a redox pair. The molecule interchanges between two separate and equally essential forms, and no other molecule can replace it. But it takes selenium in order for this interchangeability to take work.
The KiSel-10 study: Improved quality of life and half as many deaths
The KiSel-10 study is one of a kind. The trial, which was carried out on older, healthy people, was designed to investigate if supplementation with Q10 and selenium yeast could reduce ongoing ageing processes and increase lifespan. 443 older men and women aged 70-88 years took part in the study. Half the participants were assigned to daily supplementation with pharmaceutical-grade Q10 (200 mg) and selenium yeast (200 mcg), while the other group got matching placebo. The study was headed by Professor Urban Alehagen, a cardiologist from the University of Linköping, in collaboration with scientists from Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm.
The combination of Q10 and selenium was no coincidence. Firstly, older people produce less Q10 and therefore have reduced levels of the compound in their blood. Secondly, the farmland in Europe is low in selenium. Many people therefore lack this compound that is essential for Q10’s ability to interchange between its two forms.
The KiSel-10 study showed the following benefits among the participants in the Q10 and selenium group:
- Improved quality of life
- Better cardiac function
- Fewer hospitalizations
- 53% lower mortality rate
The study is published in International Journal of Cardiology.
Follow-up studies 10 and 12 years after the study was stopped showed that the treatment with Q10 and selenium has a long-term effect on heart health and life expectancy. The outcome is bound to be even greater if people continue taking the supplements.
Chronic heart failure affects millions of people worldwide
According to the statistics, 33 per cent of those hospitalized for cardiac failure for the first time do not survive for more than a year
Cholesterol-lowering medicine, Q10, and ageing
Around 600.000 Danes take cholesterol-lowering statins every day. This type of drug is known to promote ageing, which is because statins block a liver enzyme called HGM-CoA that the body also uses to produce Q10. In other words, statins reduce your Q10 synthesis, and that affects the organs that need the most energy. Therefore, some of the most common side effects of statins are fatigue, poor concentration, muscle pain, and a feeling of physical and mental decline. Other complications may show up along the way, simply because Q10 is such a powerful antioxidant that protects against oxidative stress. Experts advise people in regular statin therapy to take 100 mg of Q10 daily as a supplement together with their medicine.
Diabetes, Q10, and statins
A growing number of people get type 2 diabetes, and older people are particularly susceptible. Diabetes is linked to cardiovascular disease and an increased risk of cancer, both of which shorten your lifespan. Previous studies have demonstrated that daily supplementation with 200 mg of Q10 for three months reduces oxidative stress and lowers the risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. Daily supplementation with 100 mg of Q10 taken for three months significantly reduces the type of inflammation that is seen in people with diabetic neuropathy. The disease is caused by damage to the nerves that controls the cardiovascular function, and this complication is associated with an increased risk of morbidity, amputations, and death. It also turns out that regular use of statins (especially simvastatin) increases the risk of type 2 diabetes by 10-40 percent. In fact, it is paradoxical that statins increase your risk of diabetes, a disease which in itself increases the risk of atherosclerosis and heart failure.
Periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease
Periodontal disease is a common dental disorder that is widespread among adults and older people. Patients with periodontal disease have decreased levels of Q10 in their gum tissue, and studies have shown that Q10 supplementation may have a positive impact on the much-dreaded condition, which not only causes tooth loss but also increases your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Many dentists have discovered that a number of chronic diseases are linked to infections in the blood, and pathogens can be carried by the blood from one type of tissue to another, for instance from the gums to the heart. It is therefore important to brush and floss after every meal. Also, have your dentist remove plaque from your teeth on a regular basis.
Other diseases and conclusion
In his book (Coenzyme Q10 – An Insider’s Guide), Dr. William V. Judy also looks at other diseases like heart failure, hypertension, cancer, migraine, chronic fatigue syndrome, and neurodegenerative diseases, where oxidative stress and mitochondrial damage may be involved.
Many of the age-related diseases are linked to the decreasing endogenous Q10 synthesis that impairs cellular energy turnover and makes cells increasingly vulnerable to attacks. Dr. Judy concludes that Q10 supplementation is an obvious way to compensate for the lack of this vital compound and delay the ageing process. Also, he writes:
- Evidence suggests that supplementary Q10 can reach the mitochondria and support their production of energy in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate)
- Evidence suggests that supplementary Q10 protects mitochondria against oxidative stress
- Evidence suggests that supplementary Q10 improves the cells’ ability to repair damaged DNA
- Evidence suggests that Q10 controls inflammation by way of signaling activity
Finally, Dr. Judy quotes one of the first and greatest pioneers of Q10 research, Professor Karl Folkers as saying:
“Q10 does not cure anything. Q10 is merely fundamental to the cells and their ability to produce energy, and without energy there is no life”
Make sure to choose pharmaceutical-grade Q10
Dr. Judy mentions several times in his book that the quality of any given Q10 product is of vital importance to the outcome of a study. A patented Q10 product with good bioavailability may deliver promising results in countless studies because of its superior quality, but these results do not apply to other Q10 products that are not manufactured in the same way. The body has difficulty with absorbing Q10 because the Q10 molecules tend to aggregate and form large, indigestible crystals, which cannot pass through the intestinal membrane and enter the bloodstream. It takes a patented manufacturing technique with special oils and a heating treatment to prevent these crystals for forming. Dr. Judy therefore recommends taking a pharmaceutical-grade Q10 preparation with documented quality, bioavailability, and safety.
As mentioned, Q10 is found in two forms – either as ubiquinol or as ubiquinone. In the majority of studies, scientists have used ubiquinone, which is far more stable and which is converted into ubiquinol by the body. Always choose a Q10 preparation that has good bioavailability and is able to reach the mitochondria and combine this with pharmaceutical-grade selenium. The European farmland is low in selenium, and Q10 cannot interchange between its two forms without adequate selenium in the blood.
William V. Cody. Coenzyme Q10. An Insider´s Guide. Ny Videnskab 2018
David Mantle and Iain Hargreaves. Coenzyme Q10 and Degenerative Disorders Affecting Longevity: An Overview. Antioxidants (Basel) Published online 2019 Feb
Momiyama Y. Serum coenzyme Q10 levels as predictor of dementia in a Japanese general population. Atherosclerosis. 2014
Alehagen U, et al. Cardiovascular mortality and N-Terminal-proBNP reduced after combined selenium and coenzyme Q10 supplementation. Int J Cardiol. 2012
Hannou SA et al. Fructose metabolism and metabolic disease. J. Clin Invest 2018
Bruce H. Lipton. Intelligente celler. Borgen 2009
Pernille Lund. Q10 – fra helsekost til epokegørende medicin. Ny Videnskab 2014
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