While retinol and vitamin C get all the attention in the world of cosmetics, coenzyme Q10 sits quietly in the corner of skin and body care. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) does a lot more than the laboratory name suggests. It is actually an antioxidant that works ‘behind the scenes’.
Yet many people do not know exactly how this nutrient works and why it is so important. That’s why we’re taking a deep cellular dive into CoQ10’s powerful properties.
What is Co-enzym Q10 (CoQ10)?
CoQ10, also known as ubiquinone, is a fat-soluble substance found in all body cells. The term “coenzyme” means that it is necessary for other enzymes to function. It’s like a BFF that you can’t do certain things without.
All cells need CoQ10 to produce energy, as it is used in the mitochondria, known as the cell’s “powerhouse,” among other things. In that power plant, electrons move along chemical pathways to generate energy. CoQ10 helps those electrons find their way, so to speak, by directing them into these pathways. The energy produced by these pathways is then used for normal cellular functions, including skin health.
CoQ10 is not only much needed by the body, but is also a powerful antioxidant. It is the only fat-soluble antioxidant naturally made by the human body. Unfortunately, your CoQ10 levels drop as you age.
Some foods such as meat, fish, nuts, soybeans, spinach, cauliflower and broccoli may be rich in CoQ10, but it is difficult to get enough through diet alone. But a small 25% of your daily CoQ10 requirement comes from what you eat and drink.
How is CoQ10 used in skin care?
As a powerful antioxidant and electron transporter, CoQ10 plays an important role in skin health.
Let me list how CoQ10 can boost your skin health:
1. Bye-bye oxidatieve stress
Oxidative stress occurs when harmful molecules, known as free radicals, build up and exceed the level of antioxidants in your body. This can be a result of UV rays, smoke or air pollution, but also an unhealthy diet, stress or poor sleep.
Oxidative stress promotes collagen breakdown and also impairs skin cell function. In the worst cases, oxidative stress can even damage DNA, causing pre-cancers and cancers.
CoQ10 protects against lipid peroxidation, a process by which free radicals damage cell membranes. Thanks to CoQ10, the membranes of mitochondria are shielded and other antioxidants are stimulated. These include vitamins C and E, both of which are equally important for healthy skin.
2. Less fine lines and wrinkles
As an antioxidant, it protects the skin against UV rays, one of the main sources of oxidative stress in the skin. Long-term exposure to UV radiation can lead to premature skin aging and can destroy collagen fibers. UV radiation, specifically UVA, also destroys fibroblasts, cells that produce collagen and help wounds heal, eventually leading to fine lines and wrinkles.
Your skin normally uses antioxidants such as CoQ10, Vitamin C, Vitamin E to protect itself against UV rays. Scientific research shows that UV radiation reduces the level of CoQ10 and Vitamin E in the skin. As you age, and your antioxidant levels decrease, it is therefore important to supplement them. In addition, research has shown that CoQ10 can reduce facial wrinkles.
3. Energy boost for your skin cells
If we look at the skin at a microscopic level, we see that every cell needs energy to function properly. This includes important skin cells such as fibroblasts, which make collagen, and keratinocytes, which make keratin & skin lipids and barrier function. As you age and your CoQ10 level decreases, so does mitochondrial activity and energy formation. That reduced energy will cause your skin cells to function less well. By using CoQ10, you are actually going to support the energy needs of your skin cells and help your body fight free radicals.
The power of CoQ10 in a nutshell
CoQ10 is a powerful antioxidant that occurs naturally in our bodies but declines with age. The antioxidant supports our mitochondrial function, aids cellular energy formation and fights against oxidative damage. Read more about Coenzyme Q10.
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Hernández-Camacho JD, Bernier M, López-Lluch G, Navas P. Coenzyme Q10 Supplementation in Aging and Disease. Front Physiol. 2018;9:44.
Passi, S., De Pità, O., Puddu, P., & Littarru, G. P. (2002). Lipophilic Antioxidants in Human Sebum and Aging. Free Radical Research, 36(4), 471–477.
Prahl S, Kueper T, Biernoth T, Wöhrmann Y, Münster A, Fürstenau M, Schmidt M, Schulze C, Wittern KP, Wenck H, Muhr GM, Blatt T. Aging skin is functionally anaerobic: importance of coenzyme Q10 for anti aging skin care. Biofactors. 2008;32(1-4):245-55.
Kalen, A., Appelkvist, E. L., and Dallner, G. (1989). Age-related changes in the lipid compositions of rat and human tissues. Lipids 24, 579–584.
While you are here
When we think of anti-aging cream, we often associate this with beautiful, hydrated, supple and smooth skin after applying the cream. Sometimes expectations are so high that they are not met. Doubts often arise about the daily care ritual and the means used. This makes us lose the motivation to keep the skin in condition.
Read more about: anti-aging cream from a dermatological point of view