Best known as a supplement for heart health, many people don’t know that CoQ10 is necessary for metabolic function and impacts fat burning. Along with carnitine, vitamin C, and magnesium, CoQ10 plays a pivotal role in fat loss physiology.
How Does It Do This?
You may remember that the body produces energy in the form of ATP in the mitochondria of cells. Known as “energy powerhouses,” the mitochondria take nutrients like glucose and fat and turn them into ATP using the Krebs cycle.
CoQ10 is necessary for a portion of the Krebs cycle known as the electron transport chain. The Krebs cycle is a series of chemical reactions that removes high-energy electrons and uses them in the electron transport chain to generate ATP.
When your body is in a calorie deficit, it starts relying on stored body fat for energy. Triglycerides, which are how fat is stored in fat cells, are broken down into fatty acids that get turned into acetyl CoA molecules and enter the Krebs cycle. CoQ10 actually binds with electrons and helps transport them through the chain so that the body can produce ATP for energy.
CoQ10 also stimulates an enzyme called AMPK that controls energy balance in cells, reducing fat accumulation that leads to diabetes and obesity (1). Human studies need to be done, but animal studies show CoQ10 improves fat metabolism and prevents obesity by improving mitochondrial function and insulin sensitivity (2).
CoQ10 Improves Insulin Binding
CoQ10 also has antioxidant action that may improve the ability of insulin to bind with cells. You probably know that when you eat carbs, your body turns them into glucose and they enter the bloodstream. In order for your body to use glucose for energy, insulin—a hormone released by the pancreas—must bind with cells to allow glucose to enter. Inside the cell, it goes through a process called glycolysis to become ATP.
Insulin resistance can develop in response to excess energy intake and lack of physical activity. When this happens, cells are unable to readily bind with insulin, which leads to high blood sugar levels and oxidative stress, damaging cells and DNA. This is why many diabetics suffer from neuropathies or tingling sensations because nerves have been damaged by oxidative stress.
CoQ10’s antioxidant action appears to help lower the inflammatory load that is linked to insulin resistance. One study found that giving diabetic patients 150 mg of CoQ10 daily for 12 weeks resulted in significantly lower glucose and A1C levels (the gold standard for testing metabolic function in diabetics). Insulin resistance and triglycerides (a primary marker of heart disease risk) were also improved (3).
CoQ10 Counters Chronic Fatigue
CoQ10 also has promise for reducing fatigue and improving exercise performance. Studies of people with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue show that CoQ10 supplementation can make exercise “feel” easier and improve how the body uses oxygen (4). CoQ10 may even be useful in healthy subjects: One study found that 100 mg of CoQ10 daily for two weeks led to lower muscle fatigue and increased treadmill time to exhaustion (5). A second trial showed anaerobic benefits of CoQ10 after sedentary men who took 100 mg of CoQ10 daily for 8 weeks improved peak power (6).
CoQ10 Reduces Heart Failure
CoQ10 plays a major role in heart function and research shows it significantly improves outcomes in heart failure patients (7, 8). People with cardiovascular disease need supplemental CoQ10 because statins inhibit action of the HMG-CoA reductase enzyme, rendering the body unable to recycle CoQ10.
CoQ10 is an important nutrient for optimal metabolic function that can impact fat burning and energy use.
If you are trying to lose fat with an energy deficit, ensuring you have adequate CoQ10 may support the process.
CoQ10 may support exercise performance and reduce fatigue, making workouts “feel” easier.
If you suffer from insulin resistance or diabetes, CoQ10 may help counter the inflammatory load your body has to deal with and support healthy blood sugar levels.
Individuals taking statins and beta blockers need to supplement with CoQ10 because these medications inhibit the HMG-CoA enzyme necessary for CoQ10 production in the body.
Heart failure patients and those suffering from cardiovascular disease may improve outcomes by supplementing with CoQ10.
Recommended doses vary but many studies show benefits from daily intake of 100 to 200 mg a day. There is no evidence of toxicity up to 3,000 mg a day of CoQ10 (9, 10).
Getting the body to absorb CoQ10 can be tricky making it essential that you buy a high-quality supplement that is lipid stabilized. We offer one in our online store.