Why is CoQ10 Important for Fertility?
Many couples suffering from infertility have turned their attention to CoQ10. CoQ10 is an antioxidant naturally made by the body that has been shown to protect against cellular damage, decrease inflammatory processes, and improve mitochondrial function (1). Moreover, CoQ10 is used for energy production in every single cell in the body (1). It’s no wonder this powerful antioxidant has been touted by the internet as a “miracle supplement” for infertility.
In fact, research has shown that supplementation with CoQ10 may improve age-related declines in egg health (2), improve sperm density and motility (3), reduce chromosomal abnormalities in offspring of older parents (4), increase ovarian responsiveness to fertility treatments (5), and increase fertilization rates in older women undergoing assisted reproductive technologies (6). Clearly, when it comes to CoQ10 and fertility, the research seems to have a lot to say!
How Do We Get CoQ10?
Naturally, many couples look to supplementation to get their daily dose of CoQ10. This is a great way to ensure you are getting the therapeutic dose required for fertility benefits. Generally speaking, you know that we usually prefer a food/diet based approach instead of supplements where possible. So it’s really cool that recent research has shown that the body is able to regenerate and recycle CoQ10 naturally by regularly eating greens and getting a healthy dose of sunlight!
How Chlorophyll Regenerates CoQ10
This explanation requires some quick basic high school science: chlorophyll is the green pigment found in plants that allows photosynthesis to occur. As a refresher, photosynthesis is the process that allows plants to absorb energy, scientifically known as ATP, from the sun. Since humans are not chlorophyll-containing beings and cannot undergo photosynthesis, we operated under the assumption that chlorophyll was unable to provide ATP (energy) for us.
Apparently we were wrong. Recent research has shown that when we are exposed to sunlight, our mitochondria can capture light and synthesize ATP (energy) when mixed with metabolites of chlorophyll (7). In other words, if we eat a chlorophyll-rich diet, we can synthesize energy from sunlight similarly to plants.
Even more interestingly, when we consume a chlorophyll-rich diet and absorb sunlight (similar to photosynthesis), we can convert the inactive form of CoQ10 known as ubiquinone, into its active form ubiquinol (8). This means that by eating more veggie-based, chlorophyll-rich diets, we can effectively and naturally maintain our levels of CoQ10 in the blood stream without supplementation (8).
So what are we to make of all this? Basically, make sure you eat your greens! Eating mostly plant-based, chlorophyll-rich diets coupled with healthy exposure to sunlight will help to maintain your levels of CoQ10. As we know, optimal levels of CoQ10 are important in improving fertility parameters, so don’t skip your veggies! “One of the best food sources of chlorophyll is spinach. Parsley, garden cress, green beans and arugula are also good sources of chlorophyll on a per serving basis” (9). It may still be appropriate to supplement with CoQ10. Talk to your naturopathic doctor about what is right for you!
Some Practical Tips for Eating More Greens
· Always double the portion of veggies in each recipe. It’s an easy way to up your vegetable intake for the day.
· Try having one meatless day a week. By having one meatless day, you increase the amount of vegetables you consume, thereby increasing chlorophyll in the body.
· To keep things interesting, try a different in-season vegetable each week. This will help prevent boredom from making the same veggies time and again.
· Make your staple snacks veggie based. For example veggies and hummus is an excellent, easy snack. Feel free to rotate the veggies you use to keep it interesting.
· No matter what you are eating, have a small salad on the side with every meal. This ensures you get your daily dose of greens.
· Start your day off with a veggie-packed breakfast smoothie. For some good recipes click here (https://greatist.com/eat/green-smoothie-recipes)
· If you are craving chips or popcorn, make veggie chips instead. For a good veggie chip recipe click here (https://thebigmansworld.com/2017/08/07/oil-free-baked-veggie-chips-paleo-vegan-gluten-free/)
· Try your best to replace carbohydrates with vegetables when possible. For example use spaghetti squash, cauliflower rice, and lettuce wraps instead.
Most importantly, we should strive for 5-10 servings of vegetables per day. In addition to the many health benefits vegetables offer, we now have another reason for consuming them: maintaining CoQ10 levels and thereby preserving fertility. If you would like to learn more about CoQ10 and fertility, speak to your naturopathic doctor or your other trusted health care provider.
1. Barry D. The Power of Ubiquinol: The Key to Energy, Vitality, and a Healthy Heart. Health Point Press; 2010.
2. Ben-Meir A, Burstein E, Borrego-Alvarez A, Chong J, Wong E, Yavorska T et al. Coenzyme Q10 restores oocyte mitochondrial function and fertility during reproductive aging. Aging Cell. 2015;14(5):887-895.
3. Safarinejad M. Efficacy of Coenzyme Q10 on Semen Parameters, Sperm Function and Reproductive Hormones in Infertile Men. The Journal of Urology. 2009;182(1):237-248.
4. Bentov Y, Casper R. The aging oocyte—can mitochondrial function be improved?. Fertility and Sterility. 2013;99(1):18-22.
5. Gat I, Blanco Mejia S, Balakier H, Librach C, Claessens A, Ryan E. The use of coenzyme Q10 and DHEA during IUI and IVF cycles in patients with decreased ovarian reserve. Gynecological Endocrinology. 2016;32(7):534-537.
6. Bentov Y, Esfandiari N, Burstein E, Casper R. The use of mitochondrial nutrients to improve the outcome of infertility treatment in older patients. Fertility and Sterility. 2010;93(1):272-275.
7. Xu C, Zhang J, Mihai D, Washington I. Light-harvesting chlorophyll pigments enable mammalian mitochondria to capture photonic energy and produce ATP. Journal of Cell Science. 2013;127(2):388-399.
8. Qu J, Ma L, Zhang J, Jockusch S, Washington I. Dietary Chlorophyll Metabolites Catalyze the Photoreduction of Plasma Ubiquinone. Photochemistry and Photobiology. 2012;89(2):310-313.
9. Bohn T, Walczyk S, Leisibach S, Hurrell RF. Chlorophyll-bound magnesium in commonly consumed vegetables and fruits: relevance to magnesium nutrition. J Food Sci. 2004;69(9):S347-S350.