What does Q10 do for skin?


Coenzyme Q10, also known as ubiquinone or CoQ10, is a naturally occurring antioxidant that plays an important role in skin health and the appearance of aging. As we get older, the levels of CoQ10 in our body decline, leading to oxidative damage that can accelerate skin aging. Using CoQ10 supplements and skin care products can help restore levels, combat oxidative stress, and promote a more youthful complexion.

What does Q10 do for skin?

What is Coenzyme Q10?

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a vitamin-like substance that is produced naturally in the body and can also be obtained through food and supplements. It plays a vital role in energy production and acts as a powerful antioxidant within cells.

Some key facts about CoQ10:

  • CoQ10 is found in virtually all cells in the body, but is especially concentrated in organs with high energy demands like the heart, liver, and kidneys.
  • It is an essential component of the mitochondria, which are responsible for cellular energy production. CoQ10 helps convert fats and sugars into ATP, the key source of energy at the cellular level.
  • In its active form (ubiquinol), CoQ10 donates electrons to neutralize free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS). This makes it a crucial antioxidant for preventing oxidative stress.
  • CoQ10 levels peak during the 20s and then steadily decline with age. By age 40, CoQ10 levels can begin dropping, contributing to some aspects of aging.
  • Statins and certain other medications can also deplete CoQ10 levels in the body.
  • Food sources of CoQ10 include meat, fish, nuts, seeds, and some oils. However, dietary intake from food is generally not enough to significantly raise CoQ10 levels.
  • CoQ10 supplements may help increase CoQ10 status. Ubiquinol is considered the most bioavailable form that the body can easily absorb.

Why CoQ10 levels decline with age

There are several reasons why natural CoQ10 levels in the body tend to drop over time:

  • Reduced synthesis: CoQ10 is synthesized naturally by the body. However, CoQ10 synthesis requires at least eight vitamins and several trace elements. Deficiencies in any of these nutrients can impair CoQ10 production. Age-related changes in cells and metabolism result in less efficient CoQ10 synthesis.
  • Increased usage: With age, the body's demands for CoQ10 increases to help meet greater energy requirements and counteract oxidative stress. Without increased intake from food or supplements, this can gradually deplete CoQ10 reserves.
  • Oxidative damage: CoQ10 in the body can become oxidized into inactive forms. Aging is associated with higher oxidative stress, which uses up more CoQ10.
  • Mitochondrial mutations: Mitochondria produce CoQ10 and their function declines with age. DNA mutations in mitochondria accumulate over time and can impair CoQ10 synthesis.
  • Cell death: Older cells tend to have more defects and higher rates of death. This means fewer healthy cells are available to produce and utilize CoQ10.
  • Medications: Certain prescription medications like statins can interfere with CoQ10 production pathways. People over 40 often use more medications that deplete CoQ10.

Maintaining youthful CoQ10 levels through supplementation becomes especially important by middle age and beyond to counteract these age-related drops.

CoQ10 benefits for skin

Boosting CoQ10 levels can promote skin health and youthfulness in several ways:

1. Reduces oxidative damage

Oxidative stress caused by free radicals and ROS is a major contributor to skin aging. It damages cell membranes, proteins, and DNA.

CoQ10 in its active ubiquinol form is a powerful antioxidant that donates electrons to neutralize free radicals. This helps protect skin proteins like collagen and elastin against oxidative damage.

2. Improves mitochondrial function

The mitochondria in skin cells require CoQ10 to effectively convert nutrients into cellular energy. Impaired mitochondrial function leads to reduced energy production and the buildup of waste material in skin cells.

CoQ10 helps optimize mitochondrial metabolism for more efficient energy production. This provides skin cells with more energy to carry out repair, maintenance, and turnover.

3. Stimulates collagen and elastin

Oxidative damage can interfere with collagen and elastin synthesis in the skin. CoQ10 helps protect these structural proteins while also stimulating the fibroblasts that produce collagen and elastin.

This helps maintain skin thickness and elasticity to combat wrinkles, sagging, and crepey skin texture. CoQ10 may also help inhibit the enzyme that breaks down elastin.

4. Reduces inflammation

Low-grade chronic inflammation is another process linked to skin aging. CoQ10 acts as an anti-inflammatory by inhibiting pro-inflammatory cytokines and other inflammatory mediators.

Lowering inflammation helps minimize redness while protecting against collagen breakdown and skin damage from inflammatory pathways activated in aging skin.

5. Improves barrier function

The skin's barrier protects deeper layers from environmental damage. This barrier tends to weaken with age, resulting in drier skin and sensitivity.

Research shows CoQ10 helps strengthen skin's barrier function by boosting production of ceramides - lipids that help form the barrier and retain moisture.

6. Neutralizes UV damage

Exposure to UV radiation generates significant oxidative stress and inflammation in skin. As an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, CoQ10 can minimize the oxidative damage and effects of UV exposure.

Early research also suggests ubiquinol may be able to absorb UV rays and reduce their penetration through the outer skin layers. This provides a measure of sun protection.

7. Boosts circulation

Microcirculation declines with age. By improving mitochondrial energy production, CoQ10 helps skin cells generate the energy needed for cellular renewal and circulation.

Better circulation promotes delivery of nutrients and oxygen to skin tissues while efficiently removing waste. This is key for skin health and radiance.

Top benefits of CoQ10 for skin

In summary, the top evidence-based benefits of CoQ10 for keeping skin looking youthful and healthy include:

  • Neutralizing wrinkle-causing free radicals and ROS
  • Protecting against oxidative damage to collagen, elastin, and cells
  • Improving energy production and mitochondrial function
  • Reducing inflammation involved in skin aging
  • Stimulating collagen and elastin synthesis
  • Strengthening the skin barrier
  • Protecting against UV photodamage
  • Promoting circulation and nutrient delivery to skin cells

CoQ10 research for skin

Multiple clinical studies have demonstrated the ability of CoQ10 to improve skin parameters linked to aging:

  • A 12-week study had women take 60mg ubiquinol. Facial wrinkles reduced significantly after 6 and 12 weeks compared to placebo. Skin roughness, spots, and yellowing also improved.
  • Women who used a 1% CoQ10 cream twice daily for five weeks saw decreased wrinkles, smoother skin texture, and improved moisture.
  • When postmenopausal women applied 0.3% CoQ10 cream for 30 days, they experienced visibly decreased wrinkles and increased skin elasticity.
  • Combining CoQ10 with other antioxidants like vitamin E led to better antioxidant protection in skin cells compared to CoQ10 alone.
  • In studies where people took 100-300mg CoQ10 supplements daily for 6-12 weeks, CoQ10 levels increased in the epidermis and effectively reduced oxidation damage.

While research is still ongoing, scientists attribute many of the observed benefits of CoQ10 lotions and supplements to reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, neutralizing UV damage, and improving mitochondrial function in skin cells.

Who may benefit from CoQ10?

Anyone can benefit from optimizing their antioxidant status, but those likely to gain the most from boosting CoQ10 levels include:

  • Adults over 30: CoQ10 decline begins in the 30s, making supplementation more important for anti-aging.
  • Middle-aged or older adults: Those over 50 tend to be most deficient in CoQ10 status, making skin more vulnerable to oxidative aging processes.
  • People using statins: Statins like atorvastatin and simvastatin often deplete CoQ10. Supplementation can help counteract this.
  • Those exposed to pollution/toxins: Environmental stress increases oxidation in skin, so CoQ10 provides antioxidant protection.
  • People who smoke: Smoking dramatically reduces CoQ10 antioxidant capacity while accelerating skin aging.
  • Those prone to UV damage: CoQ10 helps minimize harmful effects of sun exposure.
  • Anyone seeking anti-aging effects: CoQ10 can help maintain youthful, healthy skin as we age.
  • Individuals with certain medical conditions: Diseases involving oxidative stress and inflammation like diabetes, neurodegenerative disease, hypertension, etc. may benefit from CoQ10.

How to increase CoQ10 for skin

There are two main ways to increase CoQ10 status for skin health: Topical use and oral supplementation.

Topical CoQ10

Applying CoQ10 directly to skin allows it to penetrate into the epidermis and dermis layers where it can exert antioxidant and anti-aging activity. Studies show even low concentrations of CoQ10 around 0.3% can significantly improve skin parameters when applied topically over several weeks.

Benefits of topical CoQ10 include:

  • Direct delivery to epidermis for antioxidant protection
  • Ability to reduce visible fine lines, wrinkles, and roughness
  • Improves moisture and epidermal hydration
  • Less total CoQ10 required compared to oral dosing
  • Can boost effects of other topical anti-aging ingredients
  • Easy to integrate into skincare routine

When buying topical CoQ10, look for a formula containing ubiquinol, the active form that antioxidizes and gets absorbed into skin most readily. Using it with vitamin E boosts antioxidant protection.

Apply a CoQ10 cream or serum daily focusing on areas most prone to oxidative aging like the face, neck, chest, and hands. Gently smooth into skin until fully absorbed.

Oral CoQ10 supplements

Increasing CoQ10 levels from within the body through oral supplements provides benefits for the entire body and all organ systems, including the skin.

Advantages of CoQ10 supplements include:

  • Raises CoQ10 levels throughout the body, not just skin
  • Requires a higher dose than topicals to see skin effects
  • Ubiquinol is most bioavailable form
  • May take 2-4 weeks to increase skin CoQ10 levels
  • Can combine with other internal antioxidants like vitamins C, E, and selenium
  • Helps maintain CoQ10 status with daily use
  • May confer some cardiovascular and brain health benefits

A typical CoQ10 anti-aging dose is 100-200mg per day. Those with CoQ10 deficiency may use doses up to 400mg. It's best absorbed with food containing oil or fat.

Measuring CoQ10 levels through blood testing can help determine ideal supplemental doses.

Safety and side effects

CoQ10 is widely regarded as safe with very few side effects. It carries essentially no risk of toxicity due to its water-soluble nature. Mild side effects may include:

  • Upset stomach or nausea, usually relieved by taking with food
  • Headache or dizziness
  • Insomnia if taken too close to bedtime
  • Interactions with blood thinners like warfarin

CoQ10 is considered safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding, but recommended doses are not definitively established. Those on medications should consult their doctor before supplementing.

Topical CoQ10 moisturizers are non-irritating for most skin types. Start by patch testing new products.

What does Q10 do for skin? Conclusion

CoQ10 levels drop naturally with age but can be restored through diet, skincare products, and supplements. Both topical and oral CoQ10 provide anti-aging skin benefits by neutralizing wrinkle-causing free radicals, stimulating collagen, lowering inflammation, and improving mitochondrial function.

CoQ10 is especially beneficial for those seeking to combat oxidative skin damage from aging, UV exposure, stress, medications, or health conditions. Boosting CoQ10 intake can help maintain a more youthful complexion.

Resources used to write this article

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