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CoQ10 (Ubiquinol) Supplement Guide for Athletes: Does It Work?

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coq10 supplement guide

Coenzyme Q10 (also known as CoQ10 or ‘Ubiquinol’) has received a lot of press the past decade and is one of the more popular supplements on the market.

CoQ10 has also been bandied about by supplement companies as a performance enhancing supplement, for athletes, bodybuilders, and the fitness crowd. It’s also marketed as one of the best supplements for older persons as the claim is it helps reduce some of the impact of aging and can benefit in the recovery of some illnesses.

If you believe the supplement hype, Coenzyme Q10 is the fountain of youth — responsible for reducing age and helping you blast out new PR records in the gym and dramatically increase your performance in sports.

That’s the claim anyways. And like all claims by the supplement companies, most of it is bullshit.

We can slot in CoQ10 in as a one of those ‘performance enhancing supplements that claim to give you a cardiovascular/strength/endurance boost along with the likes of BCAA’s, Beta Alanine, Creatine, Nitrate, and Caffeine.

However, does CoQ10 actually do anything as claimed? Let’s take a comprehensive look at what the actual research and studies say about CoQ10 and it’s benefits on your overall health and your athletic performance.

What is Coenzyme Q10?

Coenzyme Q10 is a fat-soluble substance that plays a vital role in maintaining healthy body function. Coenzyme Q10 is present in most eukaryotic cells which contain the genetic code for your body’s various organisms. Eukaryotic cells can reproduce through various ways and serve as the basis upon which our lives are sustained. Being that Coenzyme Q10 is found in major parts of the body such as the heart and liver, it is an extremely powerful antioxidant and also agent in supporting our body’s natural process to operate.

Coenzyme Q10 is non-protein chemical that cells use in the process of electron transfer to begin the process of aerobic respiration which generates energy in the form of ATP.

ATP refers to a specific type of ‘nucleoside triphosphate’ which are molecules that contain a nucleoside combined with three groups of phosphate. Nucleotides are essentially the “food” that your body needs in order to process and build DNA and other forms of nucleic acids such as RNA. Majority of your body’s energy is comprised using this method.

In layman’s terms, Coenzyme Q10 is an important component for your cells, one that’s necessary for the production of energy. In simpler terms, it helps supply energy to your muscles.

What is Coenzyme Q10’s main purpose?

Coenzyme Q10 plays in your body’s natural process is the aiding of transferring electrons through the support chain that feeds your vital organs.

It aids the mitochondria of critical cells in your body in order to produce energy. Low levels of Coenzyme Q10 have been closely linked to diseases such as heart attacks, Parkinson’s disease, fibromyalgia and male infertility amongst others.

Basically, you need it to produce energy.

It is common knowledge that some pharmaceutical medications are known to decrease or completely deplete the molecule Coenzyme Q10 in people who are taking them. In these instances, it may be beneficial to seek the help of a medical professional in order to gain advice on whether or not Coenzyme Q10 supplementation would be beneficial for you.

Although Coenzyme Q10 is a part of a very critical system that facilitates the energy production flow in your body it is not however necessarily recommended for supplementation unless you experience some of the diseases or conditions mentioned above.

Or, like most people who are trying to squeeze out extra performance for a sport, looking for an edge. And there is some evidence that Q10 may provide that edge. For some activities.

Coenzyme Q10’s Claim

Coenzyme Q10 is an essential molecule to your body, it aids in the energy production for very important organs including your heart. Coenzyme Q10 has been researched and proven to help improve the flow of blood in vessels as well as protect them. Other research points to some very strong indications that Coenzyme Q10 is useful as a supplement in people who suffer from diseases such as migraines, heart attacks, depression, Peyronie’s disease and many others. The supplement gained some popularity due to some studies showing it improves power output.

Supplement companies (and fitness magazines) have jumped on this limited evidence to market Q10 as a beneficial supplement for strength training and performance sports. However, the studies only show a limited benefit in  SOME situations — none involving improvements in strength or anaerobic capacity. For some endurance work, there may be some small benefit.

Top Recommendation

Jarrow Formulas Ubiquinol QH-Absorb

Jarrow Formulas Ubiquinol QH-Absorb is an active antioxidant form of Co-Q10 that is highly absorbable. It helps increase the flow and amount of blood in its user’s especially the senior population. It contains a highly stabilized form of CoQ10 that helps facilitate absorption and can also feed cells in the intense and other places.

Buy Jarrow Formulas Ubiquinol QH-Absorb on Amazon

The Research

The research surrounding Coenzyme Q10 is very tricky territory to tread. Many people who either have previously suffered or are currently suffering from diseases such as depression, male infertility, and low energy levels have reported noticeable effects after taking some form of Coenzyme Q10 supplementation. Scientists and researchers, however, are still on the fence surrounding its effectiveness as they have come to a general consensus that some of these noticeable effects could be the result of a placebo effect.

Considering the still-evolving research surrounding Coenzyme Q10, it is however undetermined whether or not all of these effects have something to do with the attribution of placebo.

Strong research has been found in more conclusive studies on Coenzyme Q10 as it maintains its natural and proven ability to help with increasing not only the amount of blood in someone who has suffered an illness which causes dramatic drops in levels of Coenzyme Q10 but it also serves to facilitate blood flow regularity and even protects the blood vessels.

Male infertility has been another area that Coenzyme Q10 research has been centered around and the findings are quite concrete proving it’s effectiveness to help with increasing reproductive cells in men.

Here are some of the conclusions researches have come to throughout the study of Coenzyme Q10:

  • Coenzyme Q10 supplementation has been proven to help with reducing fatigue. Link to Study
  • Coenzyme Q10 supplementation has been studied and proven to help patients who suffer from fibromyalgia. Link to Study
  • Coenzyme Q10 Supplementation has been proven to help increase blood flow in patients suffering from diabetes and many other medical conditions. Link to Study
  • Coenzyme Q10 supplementation has been proven to help with symptoms of Peyronie’s disease. Link to Study
  • Coenzyme Q10 has been proven to be beneficial for people who suffer from heart ailments and other diseases that may decrease quality of life. Link to Study

Coenzyme Q10 still has a long way to go in quantitative data received from trials and investigations to determine its effectiveness. Many of the tests performed do shown some very compelling evidence to prove the claim that coenzyme Q10 does in fact help with conditions such as fibromyalgia, heart problems, blood pressure, male infertility and a number of others.

The factor still at large is the vast placebo effect seen throughout majority of the trials performed that targeted areas in patients such as inflammation, cholesterol, oxygen levels and others. Research still continues on coenzyme Q10 for its potential beneficial properties for many diseases and ailments plaguing people today. If you are considering coenzyme Q10 as a supplement, then I would advise talking to your doctor in order to correctly diagnose your conditions in order to find out if it would render you any substantial health benefits.

Who is at risk for coenzyme Q10 deficiency?

Most commonly a deficiency in coenzyme Q10 will result from the onset of disease and illness. A deficiency in coenzyme Q10 can be seen with symptoms such as high blood pressure, heart pains and failure, low blood levels, and chest pain. Other common symptoms are the likes of mental stress, muscle and joint pain, and a weak immune system.

Many neurological and chronic pain conditions are associated with low levels of coenzyme Q10. You become more susceptible to airborne illnesses and viruses when you have a deficiency in coenzyme Q10, many people also experience increased chances of getting heart attacks and gaining weight rather rapidly when possessing low levels of coenzyme Q10.

Coenzyme Q10 plays a major factor in your body’s overall ability to manufacture and produce energy for a number of vital functions that facilitate your everyday life. Low or depleting levels of coenzyme Q10 in your system can lead to a number of symptoms.

If you notice major changes taking place in your body such as low natural defense against diseases and contagions or things such as abnormal heart behavior or decreases in energy levels, you should immediately contact a medical professional in order to receive advice on whether or not these signs could be the result of low levels of coenzyme Q10 in your system.

Recommended Dosage

Coenzyme Q10 has a status quo recommended dosage of 90mg on the low end and 200mg being the highest average recommended dose. Keep in mind that these are in terms of supplementation. If you encounter a medical condition that may require a higher dosage, it should always be administered by a licensed professional. You should supplement the recommended dose amounts with one meal per day.

Possible Side Effects of Coenzyme Q10 Supplementation

Potential side effects of coenzyme Q10 include things such as heartburn, hearing loss, gas inflammation, headaches, fungal skin, high cholesterol levels, dizziness, diarrhea, coughing, bronchitis, and back pain. Depending on the cause of your deficiency in coenzyme Q10 the side effects will vary significantly.

Does it actually work?

Coenzyme Q10 has shown notable effects on male infertility, heart disease, and other illnesses. Researchers are still on the lookout for definitive proof that coenzyme Q10 does however affect other vital systems and potentially damaging conditions in the body. Read about its effectiveness more below.

The Research Consensus

For a general answer, coenzyme Q10 can be very beneficial if you suffer from a number of conditions. Most of the research conducted has shown major upswings in the health of patients who suffer from fibromyalgia, heart diseases, male infertility and other conditions. Being that it is such a vital component in the chemical combination that creates energy and transports blood throughout the body, coenzyme Q10 can be very beneficial if you are suffering from a deficiency. Most commonly you will notice changes in your overall quality of life and health when suffering from a coenzyme Q10 deficiency. It is always best to consult with a doctor to see if coenzyme Q10 supplementation is best for you.

Q10 has been the talk in the fitness / bodybuilding world for the past decade due to a few studies showing some benefits relating to strength and power. But the results are a bit mixed, so there is no definitive answer. The supplement does not, according to the studies, increase strength. As such, don’t expect to get a better lifts out of it. However, some studies have shown a slight increase in power output for some activities that induce muscular fatigue.

How effective are Coenzyme Q10 supplements?

Coenzyme Q10 supplements are known for providing relief for a variety of conditions and symptoms. The high absorption rate and natural compounds that make up many of the supplements are reason to at least try them if you are experiencing symptoms of a potential deficiency. Coenzyme Q10 supplementation is very rarely needed for most healthy adults however.

Most commonly you will find the need to supplement with coenzyme Q10 if you are suffering from low energy levels or a group of other degradative health conditions. You should always ask your doctor whether coenzyme Q10 supplementation is right for you.

Should You supplement with Coenzyme Q10?

The short answer for most people is NO. The exceptions being that you are experiencing a number of symptoms which seem to be affecting your overall productivity from day-to-day or causing you to feel uncomfortable then coenzyme Q10 supplementation is not recommended.

Our Conclusion

Unless you have recently recovered from an injury or illness, coenzyme Q10 supplementation doesn’t have any real effect. The evidence points to the supplement benefiting older adults with blood pressure issues or heart conditions. Some types of athletes may see a slight power advantage for longer duration-based activities (see next section).

Should you supplement long term?

No, if you don’t have a need for coenzyme Q10 supplementation you shouldn’t be taking it at all as your body naturally produces the compound regularly.

Coenzyme Q10 supplementation for fighters / athletes

There appears to be some positive evidence linked to Coenzyme Q10 providing SOME indication that the supplement may boost power levels when fatigued, but only for activities where significant fatigue may build up. One study was done on 100 olympic athletes and the claim was their power output improved by 2.5 percent over the period of weeks (the study was funded a pharma company, however).

For more endurance based activities (distance running or perhaps a high intensity sport that taxes the aerobic systems as well as anaerobic such as boxing where fatigue in muscles can build up) there may be *some* advantage because of a slight increase in power production for endurance activities. Note that these results were done in studies that took weeks and the supplement is not cheap. This positive effect may be small, however. And the effect does not seem to extend to short, intensive activities. So for anaerobic high intensity activities though, there appears to be no positive benefit.

Our conclusion: there may be some small benefit, depending on the sport. For activities that are primarily anaerobic and that do not fatigue your muscles, there is ‘likely’ no benefit. For longer duration activites where muscle fatigue occurs, there may be some small benefit. For higher level athletes who compete, that small benefit may be worth the rather substantial cost of this supplement (expect to spend something like 70 to 100 USD per month to supplement in the dosage amounts that seem to show the benefit). So, yes, it may be worth supplementing if you are an athlete, sport and budget depending.

Coenzyme Q10 supplementation for Fighters: Yes or No?

Supplement if: If you box (and you do long, long rounds). For other sports that consist of high intensity activities like MMA or Muay Thai, you might not see the benefits due to the primarily anaerobic nature of these sports.

Don’t supplement if:  You are not competing and you are not engaged in a fight sport where muscular fatigue is a factor…and budget is a concern.

The Final Word

Coenzyme Q10 is largely associated with the elderly population who suffer from a series of heart and immune system related illnesses.

While it does show very effective benefits for increasing blood flow, increasing male fertility, reducing headaches, and helping regulate heart attacks the need for a coenzyme Q10 supplement in healthy fighters is not there. If you are recovering from an illness or notice that your energy levels are low, then contact a medical professional to see if depleting levels of coenzyme Q10 could be the cause. For the regular fighter who trains hard and stays healthy, you shouldn’t see the need for a coenzyme Q10 supplement anytime soon.

Top Recommended Coenzyme Q10 Supplements

#1 Jarrow Formulas Ubiquinol QH-Absorb– Jarrow Formulas Ubiquinol QH-Absorb is an active antioxidant form of coenzyme Q10 this is highly absorbable and effective.

#2 Doctor’s Best High Absorption Ubiquinol – Doctor’s Best High Absorption is gluten free and contains a naturally fermented form of coenzyme Q10. Is it formulated with a black pepper extract for enhanced absorption.

#3 Life Extension Super Ubiquinol CoQ10– Life Extension Super Ubiquinol CoQ10 absorbs 8x faster than ubiquinone CoQ10 and promotes cellular energy production in the brain and heart. It is also backed by extra mitochondrial support for enhanced effectiveness.

#4 Qunol Ultra CoQ10– Qunol Ultra CoQ10 supports heart and vascular health through an all-natural form of the powerful antioxidant coenzyme Q10. It is 100% natural and 100% soluble which makes it unique from any other coenzyme Q10 supplement available.

About Author

Ben has been living, training, and fighting in Thailand for the past 3 years. He has fought in a number of different combat arts such as MMA, BJJ, Muay Thai, and Western Boxing. Ben follows the latest fitness and nutrition research and is especially interested in how it can apply to combat sports to improve a fighter's performance in the ring. You can read Ben's full bio page here.

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