Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, is a substance found within the mitochondria of all cells, which explains why it is also called ubiquinone; it is ubiquitous in the body. Mitochondria are energy-producing centers and CoQ10 is essential for producing adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, which is the primary source of energy for muscle contraction and protein production. People produce less CoQ10 as they age and studies show that consuming additional CoQ10 has health benefits, including enhancing fertility in males and possibly, in females.
According to “Biochemical, Physiological and Molecular Aspects of Human Nutrition,” the heart, brain and liver require the most energy to function properly, and therefore use the most amount of CoQ10, although the reproductive organs are close behind. The body’s production of CoQ10 peaks at the age of 21 on average, which closely matches peak fertility. According to “Human Biochemistry and Disease,” fertility may be partially linked to CoQ10 levels because female eggs depend on CoQ10 rich mitochondria almost exclusively for their energy, which becomes reduced as the eggs age. CoQ10 is also a strong antioxidant and may be able to protect egg cells from oxidative and toxic damage.
Within women, the processes of maintaining eggs, ovulating and developing an embryo are energetically expensive and may be compromised with falling levels of CoQ10 as they age. No studies have been completed on women to test this hypothesis, but an interesting study was undertaken on mice and published in a 2009 edition of “Fertility and Sterility.” In the Canadian study, aged female mice were given CoQ10 and other supplements that stimulate mitochondria production and their egg quality was measured against a placebo group. The researchers from the Toronto Centre for Advanced Reproductive Technology found that CoQ10 supplementation increased the quantity and quality of eggs ovulated in the test group. It should be noted, however, that animal study results may not be borne out in people.
The impact of CoQ10 on male fertility has been better studied. An Iranian study was published in a 2009 edition of “The Journal of Urology” and examined the effects a 300 mg daily dose of CoQ10 had on men with infertility problems. After six months of CoQ10 supplementation, the researchers concluded that there was significant improvement in both motility and density of sperm cells. An Italian study was published in a 2009 edition of “Fertility and Sterility” and examined the effects of a 200 mg daily dose of CoQ10 on men who had fertility problems for at least three years. The researchers found that after six months of CoQ10 supplementation, the levels of seminal fluid and sperm cells were increased. Further, the sperm cells displayed increased motility, especially in the men who had the lowest initial levels of measured CoQ10.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration have not approved CoQ10 for the treatment of infertility, so it must be viewed as a dietary supplement for general health purposes. Regardless, CoQ10 is a fat-soluble nutrient so it should be taken with food that contains some fat in order to be absorbed and used by the body. In addition, smaller, multiple daily doses of CoQ10 are able to maintain more stable levels in the blood compared to larger single doses. Thus, instead of taking 300 mg of CoQ10 as a single daily dose, break it down to three doses of 100 mg each for more uniform energy production.
- “Biochemical, Physiological and Molecular Aspects of Human Nutrition”; Martha Stipanuk; 2006
- “Human Biochemistry and Disease”; Gerald Litwack; 2008
- "Fertility and Sterility"; Co-enzyme Q10 supplementation improves ovarian response and mitochondrial function in aged mice; E. Burstein et al.; September 2009
- "The Journal of Urology"; Efficacy of Coenzyme Q10 on Semen Parameters, Sperm Function and Reproductive Hormones in Infertile Men; M.R. Safarinejad; July 2009
- "Fertility and Sterility"; Coenzyme Q10 treatment in infertile men with idiopathic asthenozoospermia: a placebo-controlled, double-blind randomized trial; G. Balercia et al.; May 2009
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.