The anti-ageing medicine cabinet is replete with wonder potions purported to nurture longevity and abort ageing. Adroit marketing has often trumped scientific evidence when it comes to supporting these claims. Is coenzyme Q10 an exemplar of this hype? As a player it’s a substance that forms a vital component of energy production, is a powerful antioxidant and has the capacity to quell inflammation. In other words, it’s a multitasker, an ideal candidate to take on the evil forces that conspire to weaken our bodies and enervate our life force as we age.
We obtain coenzyme Q10 partly from foods, mostly animal in origin, but it’s predominantly manufactured in our bodies and this function declines significantly as we ger older, which would buttress the motivation to replace our dwindling stocks with advancing years. As is usually the case in the harsh, naked lens of scientific scrutiny the evidence for the benefits of this supplement is mixed. Although it hasn’t been shown to delay the progression of Alzheimer’s disease it can protect against heart disease and lower blood sugar levels in diabetics. It can also reduce elevated blood pressure, stabilise irregular pulse rhythms and empower the heart, mostly a muscular organ, to operate more efficiently. It also has the capacity to reduce fatigue, especially in those suffering from debilitating chronic fatigue syndrome and while some studies show it helps those with Parkinson’s others do not.
Whether it does contain enough firepower to counteract the potent forces that drive ageing might depend on the bioavailability of the supplement formulation, some are absorbed better than others, its ability to actually travel into the brain, how much we need and at what stage we take it, to name just a few of the clarifications we need to determine how this substance might be effectively deployed. There is a lot we still have to elucidate before we can embrace coenzyme Q10 as an anti-ageing superpower. Until then taking it is to a certain extent a matter of faith.