If you are in perimenopause or menopause, you already know there are some changes taking place in your body, but not all of them are evident. Take the higher risk of heart disease, for example, or more fragile bones and osteoporosis. Some good news is that certain supplements can help make this transitional time of life safer and smoother, and coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is one of those supplements.
What is coenzyme Q10?
Coenzyme Q10 is a compound produced naturally in the body and stored in the energy-producing organelles called mitochondria that are found in your cells. One of the main tasks of CoQ10 is to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is involved in generating and transferring energy within your cells. Mitochondria also protect cells from disease-causing viruses and bacteria as well as oxidative damage.
Coenzyme Q10 exists in two forms: ubiquinone and ubiquinol. Ubiquinol is the active antioxidant form and is produced in the body from ubiquinone. Levels of both forms can begin to decline as early as 20 years of age. This is joined by a declining ability of the body to make ubiquinol from ubiquinone. You can take a simple blood test to determine your CoQ10 levels.
The greatest concentrations of CoQ10 are in the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys, all of which have high energy demands. However, levels of CoQ10 tend to decrease with age and with it the health benefits it provides. Low levels of CoQ10 have been associated with heart disease, fibromyalgia, diabetes, muscular diseases, and brain disorders.
How can coenzyme Q10 help women in menopause?
CoQ10 can help women in perimenopause, menopause, and beyond in a number of important ways.
Skin health. Declining levels of estrogen contribute to various skin problems, including dryness, itching, dullness, and wrinkles. Environmental assaults such as ultraviolet rays, air pollution, and harsh chemicals in cosmetics and healthcare products are also a factor, and their impact accumulates over time.
The use of CoQ10 in a topical form can help reduce environmental damage as well as that associated with hormonal changes. It’s been shown in a study of topical CoQ10 to do so by promoting antioxidant protection, reducing free radicals, and enhancing mitochondrial activity in skin cells. Some experts even found that CoQ10 applied to the skin can reduce wrinkles.
Migraines. This painful symptom may appear as a new factor with menopause or it may increase in severity in women who had them before their hormonal changes. In either case, CoQ10 supplements appear to be three times more effective than placebo at reducing the number of migraines, according to a study in Neurology.
Other research has shown that some people with migraines have a CoQ10 deficiency. Treatment with CoQ10 supplements has resulted in fewer and less severe migraines among individuals with low CoQ10 levels. This supplement may even be able to help prevent migraines, based on another study in which CoQ10 was shown to significantly reduce the frequency and severity of migraine as well as shorten the duration.
Heart disease: The risk of heart disease and stroke rises in menopause and postmenopause, although menopause is not the cause of these cardiovascular conditions. The use of CoQ10 may provide “significant cardiovascular protective effects,” according to the authors of a Cardiovascular Pharmacology: Open Access article.
The use of CoQ10 supplements may also reduce high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for heart attack. In a meta-analysis of 12 clinical trials, the authors found that CoQ10 had the ability to reduce systolic blood pressure by up to 17 mmHg and diastolic pressure by up to 10 mmHg without significant adverse effects.
Diabetes: Many women in menopause are affected by insulin resistance (and accompanying weight gain) and diabetes. CoQ10 supplementation may improve insulin sensitivity and regulate blood sugar levels. In another study, individuals with type 2 diabetes took CoQ10 supplements for 12 weeks. They experienced two important benefits: a reduction in fasting blood sugar levels and hemoglobin A1C.
Brain health: Brain fog, memory problems, depression, anxiety, mood swings, and stress are all symptoms of the menopause years, and it’s important to keep those brain cells functioning at an optimal level. CoQ10 helps fight the oxidative damage to the brain that can impact memory and cognitive function. The use of CoQ10 supplements may reduce free radical levels and may even slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Using CoQ10 supplements
A typical dose of CoQ10 is 90 to 200 mg, but your actual dose may vary depending on your condition and needs. Among people with heart failure, for example, a dose of 100 mg has been used in research. For diabetes, doses of 100 mg to 300 mg are typical.
Symptoms as well as serious health conditions that are associated with perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause may be alleviated by using CoQ10 supplements. Consult your healthcare provider before taking this supplement.