Learn about the heart health benefits of CoQ10
by Caroline Fontein
At SmartyPants, getting to the heart of the matter (your health) means delivering a high-quality source of Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) to support your cardiovascular health.*
You may have heard of CoQ10 or seen it highlighted on your favorite bottle of supplements. But what is this nutrient? Or vitamin? Or mineral? And why should you care?
First, let’s have a heart to heart:
How are you feeling today? Happy? Sad? Tired? Hungry? Maybe it’s your mitochondria.
These are specialized rod-shaped organelles in your cells that use CoQ10 to help convert oxygen and nutrients into cellular energy. While infinitesimal in stature, mitochondria play a key role in your overall health.
And guess which of your cells has the most mitochondria?
It’s your heart muscle cells with about 5,000 mitochondria per cell! Your heart works harder than any other organ in your body and requires extra energy to keep it pumping.
This means your heart also has the highest levels of CoQ10 out of all your cells. Other cells with high energy requirements (and high levels of CoQ10) include your brain, liver and kidney cells.
Let’s get back to CoQ10...
What is CoQ10?
CoQ10 is an important lipid-soluble, vitamin-like compound your body makes and uses for cellular energy. It also functions as an antioxidant and helps protect your cells against oxidative damage, like what happens as a result of those pesky free radicals everyone is always talking about.
CoQ10 is present in the inner membrane of the mitochondria, the specialized, energy-producing structures inside cell walls where chemical reactions occur.
How does CoQ10 work?
CoQ10 plays two major roles in your body. One of them is creating cellular energy or in more scientific terms:
CoQ10 is a vital coenzyme in the electron transport chain for the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the major source of cellular energy that powers a cell’s metabolic activities. This process is called aerobic respiration.
It’s also the reason why animals (including humans) breathe oxygen. We need it to survive.
Still with us?
The second role CoQ10 plays is functioning as a regenerating antioxidant to help prevent lipid peroxidation. It both stimulates cell growth and inhibits cell death.
Lipid peroxidation is when oxidants, such as free radicals, essentially attack electrons from the lipids in your cell membranes which can lead to tissue damage.
This process is a self-propagating chain reaction, meaning the initial oxidation of only a few lipid molecules can result in significant tissue damage. Lipid peroxidation tissue damage has been linked to various other health issues.
Where does CoQ10 come from and why do we include it?
Your body produces CoQ10 naturally. However, multiple enzymes, cofactors, vitamins and trace minerals are needed for this to take place.
Any defects in the enzymes, cofactors or dietary nutrient deficiencies can impair the biosynthesis of CoQ10. Plus, even if you are a perfect, healthy human, the amount your body makes decreases with age.
So unfortunately for us, wisdom may come with age, not CoQ10.
Now, you might be wondering:
Can’t we just get CoQ10 from our diet?
CoQ10 occurs in some food, but even the dietary sources with the highest amounts (organ meat) are still at insufficient levels to make up for the body’s lowered production of CoQ10 due to aging.
That’s why we include it in our Adult core line formulas to support your cardiovascular health.*
You can find it in our SmartyPants:
We don’t include it in our Organic line because due to the intrinsic nature of this nutrient, it can’t be certified organic.
How much CoQ10 do you need?
Unlike the other essential vitamins and nutrients that we include in our multifunctional formulas, there’s no universally recommended daily value for CoQ10.
So, we base the amounts we include on the most recent scientific studies that suggest cardiovascular health benefits from taking a CoQ10 supplement.*
What foods contain CoQ10?
We mentioned earlier that trying to get CoQ10 from diet alone can’t make up for the difference in the amounts lost due to aging. (Maybe if you were willing to pack down an absurd amount of reindeer meat on a daily basis, you could come close. But, then you might have to deal with the elves.)
However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still try incorporating the foods below into your everyday meals.
Eating CoQ10-rich foods is an important part of a balanced diet, and these foods are also packed with other essential nutrients that are important for overall good health.
Foods to eat with CoQ10
(Amounts listed as mg of CoQ10 per 100g or about a half cup unless otherwise noted):
- Reindeer meat - 15.8 mg
- Heart - 11.8 mg
- Shoulder 4.5 mg
- Liver - 11.6 mg
- Heart 9.2 mg
- Heart - 11.3 mg
- Liver 3.9 mg
- Sirloin 3.1 mg
- Mackerel (red flesh) - 6.75 mg
- Sardines - 0.5 mg
- Salmon - 0.4 mg
- Trout - 0.85 mg
- Boiled soybeans - 1.21 mg
- Broccoli - 0.59 mg
- Cauliflower - 0.4 mg
- Avocado - 0.95 mg
- Black currants - 0.34 mg
- Orange - 1 medium orange has about 0.3 mg
- Strawberries - 1 cup has about 0.2 mg
- Peanuts - 1 oz has about 0.8 mg
- Sesame Seeds -1 oz has about 0.7mg
- Soybean Oil - 1 tbsp has about 1.3mg<
- Canola Oil - 1 tbsp has about 1mg
Tips for trying to eat more organ meat
So, you decided to go all in with offal (organ meat). While popular in some ethnic cuisines, Paleo diets and maybe your grandma’s recipes, organ meats have yet to become a staple in the average Western diet. However, they’re packed with nutrients.
Along with being high in CoQ10, organ meats are also high in:
- Vitamin B12
- Minerals (iron, magnesium, selenium and zinc)
- Vitamins A, D, E and K
Start with the heart
Since it’s technically a muscle, some say beef heart is the mildest in flavor of the offal family. You can grill, sauté or grind it into any recipe that uses ground beef.
Plus, if you prepare something for family and friends, then you can brag to your guests about how much heart you put into your cooking.
So how do you sneak more organ meat into your diet?
Here are a few tasty tips:
Mix it into meatballs, burgers or meatloaf. If you do something like a 20:80 ratio of organ to other meat, you probably won’t even notice the taste.
If you can’t find ground organs, try the following:
- Buy organs whole and cut them into small cubes.
- Freeze until your organs are firm to the touch but not completely frozen.
- Put the almost frozen organs in a food processor until you have your desired texture. If you don’t have a food processor, you can try using a meat pounder or chopping up the organs again until they can be easily blended into your ground meat.
Add it to curry. Thai? Indian? Your favorite curry is bound to make anything taste better and also mask the flavor of anything you’re trying not to taste.
Put it in chili. A little spice makes it nice. Between the beans, onion and chilis, you’ll never be able to detect any organ meat.
Try a German sausage like Braunschweiger, traditionally made from pork liver. You might also find it made with beef trim and beef liver in the U.S. These hearty sausages can be turned into the classic Braunschweiger sandwich with rye bread, whole grain mustard, red onion and Swiss cheese.
- Spice up your bolognese with some beef heart, liver or kidney. You can add these to your meat balls (as mention above) or sautée them and add directly to your sauce.
Do you have your own organ meat recipe or eating tip? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Now, if only CoQ10 could help with warding off heartbreak. That’s for another blog.
What to try SmartyPants Vitamins?
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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Caroline Fontein is the Editor and Content Manager for SmartyPants Vitamins. When she's not writing about the latest and greatest in gummy nutrition, she loves rollerblading (it's a thing), long walks on the beach (with her dog) and wine tasting (sometimes the whole bottle).