Guest post by Dr. Shawna Darou, ND
Coenzyme Q10 – A Mitochondria Powerhouse
What is Coenzyme Q10?
Coenzyme Q10, commonly known as CoQ10, is an antioxidant which has many different functions in the body – including energy production, growth and maintenance of cells, and metabolism. Its role as an antioxidant also benefits immunity, fatigue, heart health, and plays a crucial role in the reproductive system. CoQ10 is known as a mitochondria nutrient – your mitochondria are the energy centers inside all of your cells.
Coenzyme Q10 for Women with PCOS
There are three main reasons a woman with PCOS may consider CoQ10 supplementation, and I’ll review each of them along with the related research.
1) Metabolic and cholesterol parameters in PCOS:
In women with PCOS, CoQ10 supplementation even at a fairly low dose of 100 mg daily can have a significant beneficial impact glucose metabolism, insulin resistance and also lower LDL-cholesterol levels.
This adds to previous research showing many positive impacts of CoQ10 on cardiovascular health, including raising HDL cholesterol, lowering inflammatory biomarkers such as C-reactive protein, and reducing blood pressure to name a few.
2) Egg Quality for Fertility in PCOS:
With age, egg quality and maturation declines, along with CoQ10 utilization by the mitochondria (the “powerhouse”) of the eggs. The reduced utilization impacts energy production and results in egg damage, affecting the quality of an embryo. The use of CoQ10 in women with PCOS has proven to reduce oxidative stress and improve egg quality. Furthermore, increased concentrations of CoQ10 in the body are correlated with higher grade embryos and better embryo development in IVF. Dosing for egg quality tends to be on the higher end of the spectrum, with most sources agreeing with 600-800 mg of CoQ10 daily.
3) Ovulation and Other Fertility Markers with CoQ10 Supplementation:
Studies have shown that for individuals who are taking clomiphene citrate (Clomid) for ovulation induction in PCOS, the addition of CoQ10 supplementation significantly improves ovulation and clinical pregnancy rates. In this study, pregnancy rates were 6% with Clomid alone, to 37% using Clomid plus 180 mg of CoQ10 per day. The Coenzyme Q10 supplementation improved the number of follicles, endometrial thickness, serum estrogen and progesterone in clomid-resistant women with PCOS. Imagine the results if we also addressed nutrition, stress reduction, and increased daily activity!
Ubiquinol vs. CoQ10 supplements
There are two forms of CoQ10 – ubiquinol and ubiquinone (normally labeled as CoQ10). Our cells rely on both forms for overall health and energy production. The body actually converts CoQ10 into ubiquinol, and this conversion starts to decline later in your 30’s. For this reason, the older you are the more important it is to use ubiquinol supplements instead of simple CoQ10. The other consideration when choosing supplements is that you will need a lower dose of ubiquinol to achieve the same effect – typically half of the CoQ10 dose.
Take home messages
Coenzyme Q10 supplements (or Ubiquinol if you’re older) can play an important role in both metabolic and cardiovascular health by complementing nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle factors to lower glucose levels and reduce insulin resistance, and also protect your cardiovascular system.
It is also an important nutrient to consider for fertility, both for egg and embryo quality through supporting mitochondria function, and also to significantly improve ovulation and fertility response when used with clomiphene citrate.
Dr. Shawna Darou is a licensed and registered Naturopathic Doctor, who graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine at the top of her class and was the recipient of the prestigious Governor’s Medal of Excellence.
Dr. Shawna Darou N.D. has a clinical focus in women’s health care and fertility, and has treated thousands of women in her Toronto clinic since 2004. She is a dedicated and caring doctor with a gentle approach who is committed to the health of her patients. She is a member of the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors, the Canadian Naturopathic Association and the Institute of Naturopathic Education and Research. Dr. Darou’s is also an avid health writer, and her popular health blog is read by close to 5,000 people each week!
Samimi, M., Zarezade Mehrizi, M., Foroozanfard, F., et al. The effects of coenzyme Q10 supplementation on glucose metabolism and lipid profiles in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Clin Endocrinol.2017.
Bentov Y, Casper RF.The aging oocyte–can mitochondrial function be improved? Fertil Steril. 2013 Jan;99(1):18-22.
Bentov, Y., Hannam, T., Jurisicova, A., Esfandiari, N., & Casper, R. F. (2014). Coenzyme Q10 supplementation and oocyte aneuploidy in women undergoing IVF-ICSI treatment. Clinical medicine insights. Reproductive health, 8, 31.
El Refaeey, A., Selem, A., & Badawy, A. (2014). Combined coenzyme Q10 and clomiphene citrate for ovulation induction in clomiphene-citrate-resistant polycystic ovary syndrome. Reproductive biomedicine online, 29(1), 119-124
Failla, M. L., Chitchumroonchokchai, C., & Aoki, F. (2014). Increased bioavailability of ubiquinol compared to that of ubiquinone is due to more efficient micellarization during digestion and greater GSH-dependent uptake and basolateral secretion by Caco-2 cells. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 62(29), 7174-7182 https://www-ncbi-nlm-nih-gov.ccnm.idm.oclc.org/pubmed/24979483