Are You Getting Enough CoQ10 From Your Diet

Are You Getting Enough CoQ10 From Your Diet

You may have seen Coenzyme Q10 (or CoQ10) in supplement form, but did you know that you can also get CoQ10 from your diet? Read on to find out if you are getting enough CoQ10 from the food you eat and learn how to boost the amount of CoQ10 food sources in your diet!

All about CoQ10

Many people think of CoQ10 as a vitamin because of how essential it is for our bodies to function. In fact, it is so important to our cells that our liver actually make it. CoQ10 is found in practically every cell in our bodies and plays an important role in the production of energy.1 This energy is needed to send messages between the neurons in our brains, move our muscles, and keep our hearts pumping. CoQ10 is also a powerful antioxidant that protects our cells from damage that may lead to mutations and even cancer.2 As you can see, adequate levels of CoQ10 are needed to keep our bodies healthy and functioning normally.

Why should I care about my CoQ10 levels?

It’s true that our bodies produce CoQ10, but we may not be able to make enough to support optimal blood levels. We have all heard that stress can negatively affect our health, but did you know that stress can also lower our levels of CoQ10?3 Age can have an impact on our levels of CoQ10 too. CoQ10 levels peak between the ages of 19-21 and then start to drop after 21. In fact, our levels of CoQ10 drop by a whopping 65% by the age of 80!4

While we should all care about our CoQ10 levels, a group of people who should be particularly interested in their CoQ10 levels are those who are taking statin medications. Statins are popularly prescribed to block the body from making cholesterol. The pathway that statins block is also used by your body to make CoQ10, which is why statins cause CoQ10 levels to drop significantly.5 Statins are known to cause side effects such as muscle pain and research suggests that CoQ10 supplements can help decrease this muscle pain.6

How much CoQ10 do we need?

There are two (2) principal ways in which we can help our bodies to rebuild their natural CoQ10 levels: through the food we eat and by taking a CoQ10 supplement.

While there is currently no set recommended intake of CoQ10, 30-60 milligrams per day (mg/day) has been generally recommended by some researchers.4 Research also suggests that an intake of 100-200 mg/day may have a positive impact on cardiovascular health.4  Although CoQ10 is found in food, we are normally unable to reach even the lower end of these suggested levels through diet alone. This is because the foods that are highest in CoQ10 are not usually part of our diet.

CoQ10 Food Sources

Since CoQ10 plays such an important role in energy production, you will find it in the highest concentrations in organ meats such as animal liver and heart.7,8 CoQ10 is also found in beef, pork, chicken, and fatty fish such as tuna, with beef having the highest amounts.7

While the highest levels of CoQ10 are found in animal products, oils such as soybean, corn, and olive are also good sources.8 It is important to note that the levels of CoQ10 varied widely depending on the region where the oils came from. It was found that unrefined, Italian oils had the highest levels of CoQ10.8 Nuts are also good non-animal sources of CoQ10, while fruits and vegetables provide low to undetectable levels of CoQ10.8

The chart below lists some of the best food sources of CoQ10. The numbers look impressive when you look at the milligrams of CoQ10 in one kilogram of the food. However, aside from the organ meats, the amount of CoQ10 provided per serving doesn’t get above 3.1 milligrams (mg).

If eating organ meats is not appealing to you, you are not alone! It is estimated that the average person gets about 10 mg of CoQ10 per day from their diet.4 Even if you eat liver, you would have to eat around two pounds of beef liver to reach 40-50 mg of CoQ10. In order to get 30 mg of CoQ10 from raw ground beef, you would need to eat about 30 ounces or the equivalent of six typical hamburgers!

Food Sources of CoQ10

Foods

CoQ10 levels (mg/kg)7,8

CoQ10 (mg) per serving

Meats and fish

measured raw

Pork heart

118.1-282

10-24 /3 oz

Beef heart

113.3

9.7 /3 oz

Beef liver

39.2-50.5

3.3-4.2 /3 oz

Pork liver

22.7-54.0

1.8-4.5 /3 oz

Beef (muscle)

36.5

3.1 /3 oz

Pork (muscle)

20

1.7 /3 oz

Chicken (muscle)

7.8-25

0.7-2.1 /3 oz

Tuna (canned)

15.9

2.3 /5 oz

Oil

Soybean oil

53.8-279

0.7-3.8 /tablespoon

Corn oil

13-130

0.2-1.7 /tablespoon

Olive oil

4.1-160

0.05-2.1 /tablespoon

Nuts and seeds

roasted

Peanuts

26.7

0.8 /oz (28 peanuts)

Sesame seeds

17.6-23

0.5-0.6 /oz

Pistachio nuts

20.1

0.6 /oz (49 pistachios)


Tips for getting more CoQ10 in your diet

  • Make a large salad with romaine lettuce, diced tomato, and sliced cucumber and dress your salad with balsamic vinegar and one tablespoon of CoQ10-rich olive oil. For an added boost of CoQ10, garnish with a handful of toasted sesame seeds or walnuts.
  • Do you find yourself snacking on the go? Replace that candy bar or bag of chips with a handful of nuts or seeds.
  • If you are feeling adventurous, try liver pate and other dishes made with heart or liver. We recommend trying these dishes at a restaurant first.
  • Incorporate foods that are higher in CoQ10 into one meal.

CoQ10 is a vital nutrient with many benefits, but we are generally unable to get the amounts of CoQ10 recommended by some researchers from diet alone. Even if we include a lot of CoQ10 food sources, it would be almost impossible to reach the levels suggested to support cardiovascular health. Those with lower levels of CoQ10 due to age, stress, and statin use may also be unable to get enough CoQ10 in their diet to rebuild their levels. While including CoQ10-rich foods in our diets can help, adding a CoQ10 supplement to our regimen is the best way to ensure we are supporting our levels. Click here to find out how to choose the best CoQ10 supplement for you!

 

References

  1. Giorgio, L., et al. (2007). The role of Coenzyme Q in mitochondrial electron transport. Mitochondrion, 7S, S8-S33.
  2. Magnus, B., Kerstin, B., Gustav, D. (2007). The antioxidant role of coenzyme Q. Mitochondrion, 7S, S41-S50.
  3. Navas, P., Villalba, J.M., de Cabo, R. (2007). The importance of plasma membrane coenzyme Q in aging and stress responses. Mitochondrion, 7S, S34-S40.
  4. Fuke, C., Krikorian, S.A., Couris, R.R.. (2000). Coenzyme Q10: a review of essential functions and clinical trials. US Pharmacist25(10), 28-41.
  5. De Pinieux, G., et al. (1996). Lipid-lowering drugs and mitochondrial function: effects of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors on serum ubiquinone and blood lactate/pyruvate ratio. British J Clin Pharmacol, 42, 333-337.
  6. Caso, G., Kelly, P., McNurlan, M.A., Lawson, W.E. (2007). Effect of coenzyme q10 on myopathic symptoms in patients treated with statins. Am J Cardiol, 99(10), 1409-1412.
  7. Mattila, P., Kumpulainen, J. (2001). Coenzymes Q9 and Q10: contents in foods and dietary intake. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, 14, 409-417.
  8. Pravst, I., Zmitek, K., Zmitek, J. (2010). Coenzyme Q10 contents in foods and fortification strategies. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 50, 269-280.

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  • Blog Contributor
Comments 2
  • Joe
    Joe

    Thanks for providing citations!

  • Gloria Chapman
    Gloria Chapman

    Thank you for this article.

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