A Complete Guide on CoQ10 and Its Benefits for the Skin

Coenzyme Q10, known as CoQ10 or Q10 for short, is an antioxidant naturally produced by the body and is stored in the mitochondria of our cells.[1]

Mitochondria are the powerhouse of our body that not only supply energy but also protect the cells from oxidative damage and various other bacteria and viruses responsible for causing diseases. [2]

CoQ10 stored in the mitochondria helps to energize the cells and promote their growth and maintenance — however, the levels of CoQ10 in our body decrease with age. People with certain medical conditions like heart disease also tend to have low levels of CoQ10. The good news, however, is that one can get some amount of CoQ10 from food.

How Does CoQ10 Exactly Work in Our Body?

Essential Oil
Photographer: Tiara Leitzman | Source: Unsplash

CoQ10 performs various vital roles in our body. Its primary purpose is energy generation by way of producing Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) in our body. ATP helps in the effective energy transfer between the various cells in the body.[3]

Secondly, as an antioxidant, CoQ10 helps to safeguard the cells in the body by neutralizing free radicals, thereby minimizing oxidative stress and oxidative damage.[4]. Oxidative stress is not only a cause for premature aging but also leads to issues like inflammation, cellular apoptosis, tissue damage, etc. and is the precursor to many diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Conditions like brain disorders, cancer and diabetes have been linked to a decline in the levels of CoQ10.[5]

In addition to various internal benefits, CoQ10 also plays a vital role in making the skin look younger and healthier. By neutralizing free radical damage, Q10 enables one to have youthful skin. Furthermore, the decrease in COQ10 levels is closely related to the aging process, and hence Q10 is considered to be one of the precise biomarkers of aging.

Sources of CoQ10

The following are the food sources of CoQ10:

  • Whole grains
  • Fruits like strawberries and oranges
  • Vegetables like broccoli, spinach and cauliflower
  • Lean meats like chicken, beef and pork
  • Certain types of organ related meats like kidney heart and liver
  • Fatty fish like sardine, herring, trout
  • Soybeans, peanuts, and certain other legumes
  • Pistachios
  • Oils like canola oil and soybean oil

CoQ10 supplements are also available in the form of capsules, tablets and injections. However, one has to consult a doctor before taking supplements via oral mode or IV mode.

Here Are the Benefits of CoQ10 for the Skin

Keeps the Skin Young and Healthy:

The skin is the single largest organ in the body, and it is often directly exposed to various internal and external damaging agents that can lead to premature aging. Internal harmful agents cause an imbalance in various hormones and cellular damage. Extrinsic agents, on the other hand, include various environmental factors that lead to oxidative stress like, for instance, the harmful radiation from UV rays. These factors can reduce the moisture of the skin and lead to thinning of the skin layers.[6],[7] Research has proved that topical treatment with CoQ10 can enhance skin health and provide various anti-oxidative effects.[8] In fact, studies have shown that upon external application, CoQ10 also helps in reducing wrinkles to a large extent.[9]

Given the numerous benefits of CoQ10 concerning skincare, it is not surprising that this antioxidant has been ruling the roost in the skincare and beauty industry for many years in Japan.

Provides Energy to the Skin Cells:

Skin cells require energy to remove toxins and repair damage caused by free radicals. Active and energized skin can quickly eliminate various toxins and fuel growth by making use of multiple nutrients. As a person ages, the skin cells lose energy and all the above processes of repair and renewal slow down gradually, leading to dull and wrinkled skin. CoQ10 helps to energize the cells in such cases, keep them healthy and active and enable them to get rid of toxins on their own.

Provides an Even Skin Tone:

CoQ10 aids in blocking tyrosinase. Tyrosinase is an enzyme that plays an integral part in the production of melanin (a skin pigment that gives the eyes, hair and skin their dark color) that protects our skin from the harmful UV rays. However, excessive production of melanin leads to issues like freckles, age spots, etc.  Hence, many fairness and skin whitening creams target the production of melanin by way of blocking the enzyme that produces it - namely tyrosinase. This process helps in fading out dark spots and age-related spots. Thus, CoQ10 helps in promoting an even skin tone by naturally blocking tyrosinase.

Reduces the Sun Damage of Skin:

The skin is most exposed to the dangerous UV rays of the sun. The sun’s UV rays, being a source of free radicals, can damage the skin cells and DNA. The strong antioxidant properties of CoQ10 help to safeguard the skin at a molecular level and save it from the damage caused by free radicals.

Stimulates the Production of Collagen and Elastin:

The skin is a very complex and interlinked membrane that can repair and regenerate itself. Within this composite membrane, there are two main proteins namely the protein elastin that acts like a spring and gives the skin its elasticity, and the protein collagen, which is like a fiber that supports and strengthens the skin. These two proteins form the main building blocks of skin, and any damage to them (say for instance, from free radicals) can result in dull skin and a higher chance of developing wrinkles. So, obviously, any person would give prime importance to keeping the elastin and collagen levels in good condition. CoQ10 aids in the production of collagen and elastin in our body. It helps in neutralizing the free radicals by minimizing their concentrations and damaging effects on collagen and elastin. Maintaining a healthy diet and ensuring enough supplementation of CoQ10 by way of nutrition, and using skincare items containing CoQ10 can enable one to maintain the collagen and elastin levels in perfect shape leading to younger-looking skin.

The Bottom Line:

CoQ10, given its numerous benefits on the skin, is often a popular ingredient in many toners, moisturizers, body lotions, under eye creams etc. While the external application of CoQ10 is generally suitable for all skin types, one has to take caution if one is suffering from certain skin conditions like vitiligo. As regards oral supplementation, though the side effects of ingesting CoQ10 are rare or very mild, it is better to consult a doctor before supplementing with it.

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