The Surprising New Reason to Take CoQ10 (Spoiler: It’s Your Skin)

  • Researchers found that taking a Coenzyme-Q10 (CoQ10) supplement reduces several signs of aging in your skin.
  • Scientists observed improvement in things like hydration, skin thickness, elasticity (stretchiness), and they tracked the appearance of visible wrinkles.
  • Here’s how it works for your skin, plus other reasons to take a CoQ10 supplement.

A study conducted at the Institute of Cosmetics in Ljubljana, Slovenia found that taking Coenzyme-Q10 (CoQ10) reduces several signs of aging in your skin.[1] They measured things like hydration, skin thickness, elasticity (stretchiness), and they tracked the appearance of visible wrinkles. CoQ10 improved every single one of these measures.

Coenzyme-Q10, also known as CoQ10 or ubiquinol, is a potent antioxidant that your cells use for energy and protection from oxidative stress. It is a coenzyme, which means that certain enzymes need it to function properly. In my book, Head Strong, I go into detail about ways that CoQ10 helps your mitochondria, the microscopic power plants in every cell you have, make energy for a mental and physical boost.[2]

Why CoQ10 combats skin aging

Scientists in the cosmetics industry have extensively researched CoQ10 as an ingredient in topical creams.[3] Over time and lots of studies, researchers found that CoQ10’s properties attack aging from several angles.

CoQ10 and how your skin cells produce energy

CoQ10 helps mitochondria make energy for your skin cells, which makes your skin cells work better and stay younger.[4] When you’re young, your skin cells get their energy from mitochondria using oxygen. As you age, your energy metabolism in your skin cells shifts to a non-mitochondrial pathway. Scientists think that shift triggers the breakdown in skin structure that shows up as wrinkles and sagging skin.[5]

Research shows that CoQ10 improves mitochondrial function, and one study showed that it preserves your mitochondria so that your skin cells can get their energy via mitochondria for longer[6] instead of switching to anaerobic energy production that leads to skin structure breakdown.

CoQ10 and structural proteins

CoQ10 turns on genes that make key proteins for skin structure and turns off genes that make collagenase, the enzyme that breaks down collagen. This protects the collagen you have and allows your skin to produce more.[7]

RELATED: Why Your Skin Needs Collagen to Stay Young

CoQ10 is protective against cell damage

CoQ10 also protects your skin cells against oxidative stress from things like the sun and pollution. Not only that, but its powerful anti-inflammatory properties also help reduce UV-induced inflammation, which prevents premature aging from sun exposure.[8]

Researchers have also shown that CoQ10 reduces the appearance of dark spots[9] which gives a youthful, even skin tone.

The other superpowers of CoQ10

CoQ10 has been studied for its potential to:

Your body makes CoQ10 on board, but the amount you make and store declines with age.[17] To keep your levels up, you can get CoQ10 from foods like organ meats, oysters, cruciferous vegetables, avocados, and more. The thing is, to get the amount of CoQ10 you get in a typical supplement, you would have to eat an insane amount of some of these foods — think 150+ avocados and hundreds of oysters. Reaching for a supplement is a lot easier.

How to choose a CoQ10 supplement

Two hands cupping various pills and supplementsYou can look for topical creams if it’s the skin benefits you’re after, but why not get the brain, cardiovascular, energy, and whole-body anti-inflammatory benefits while you’re at it?

For the most noticeable results, choose a supplement that combines CoQ10 with pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) in the active form. These two together turn your mitochondria up to full blast to power you through your day, to help your skin cells build the proteins they need to stay young, and to protect your cells from the exposures that would otherwise break them down bit by bit.

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