Q10’s effect on various hormone disturbances
Q10 has a key role in the cellular energy turnover and also serves as an antioxidant that protects the body against oxidative stress. Disruptions in the energy-producing mitochondria in cells and oxidative stress may also be involved in different types of hormone disturbances that affect the thyroid gland, pancreas, sex glands, pituitary gland, and the adrenal glands. In a new review article that is published in Antioxidants, scientists look closer at Q10’s role with particular focus on hyperthyroidism, type 2 diabetes, and poor sperm quality, all of which can be corrected through supplementation.
Q10 is a coenzyme that works by carrying electrons in the mitochondrial process where energy is stored chemically in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). Q10 is also found in cell membranes and in the organelle membranes (e.g., mitochondria, lysosomes, and the endoplasmic reticulum). Here, Q10 serves as a unique antioxidant that protects the membranes against oxidative stress and local damage caused by free radicals.
Q10 is the only lipid-soluble antioxidant that we humans are able to synthesize endogenously. It protects the membranes through direct elimination of free radicals and by reactivating other antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin E. In the blood, Q10 is attached to cholesterol. That way, it protects the cholesterol against lipid peroxidation, which is the underlying cause of atherosclerosis.
In nature, Q10 occurs as ubiquinone or ubiquinol and shifts between these two types, depending on the body’s need for one or the other. One form is involved in energy synthesis, while the other serves as an antioxidant.
Our endogenous Q10 synthesis decreases with age. It may also decrease as a result of mitochondrial diseases or the use of cholesterol-lowering medicine.
In their review article, the authors look closer at how Q10 deficiency and Q10 supplementation can affect thyroid disorders such as Graves’ disease and Hashimoto’s disease, diabetes, impaired fertility, menopause, and Cushing disease. Their article is based exclusively on clinical studies carried out on humans.
- In many studies, daily Q10 doses in the range of 100-200 mg have been given for three months.
- It is essential to use Q10 with documented quality in order to ensure that the Q10 molecules are absorbed properly and reach the cells.
Q10, the thyroid gland, and thyroid disorders
The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormones that regulate cellular oxygen uptake and energy turnover. The two most common thyroid disorders are Hashimoto’s disease that causes the metabolism to slow down (hypothyroidism) and Graves’ disease that speeds up the metabolic rate (hyperthyroidism). They are both autoimmune diseases where the immune defense attacks different parts of the thyroid gland.
Patients with hyperthyroidism often have reduced levels of Q10 in the blood and in the thyroid gland for various reasons. It is believed that this Q10 deficiency contributes to complications in connection with hyperthyroidism, including heart failure. Smaller studies suggest that Q10 supplementation may improve cardiac function in the case of hyperthyroidism
Q10, type 1 diabetes, and type 2 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the immune defense attacks the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is a lifestyle-associated disease where the insulin receptors of the cells respond poorly to the body’s insulin (insulin insensitivity), resulting in poor glucose uptake in the cells.
Diabetics have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, eye diseases, and amputations. There may also be mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress in both types of diabetes. It has been observed that levels of Q10 are reduced in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
In their article, the authors refer to multiple controlled, randomized studies where it has been seen that Q10 supplementation can improve the body’s glucose uptake, reduce inflammation, and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetic neuropathy, and diabetic retinopathy. It may also be a good idea to stick with a blood sugar-stabilizing diet with fewer carbs and more vegetables, protein, and healthy fats.
Q10 and female fertility
Normal mitochondrial function is essential for egg cell maturation, fertility, and fetal development. It has been observed that women with impaired ovary function often suffer from mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress. Some studies have shown that Q10 supplementation prior to regular fertility therapy can improve ovary response and embryo quality (the fetus in its early stages of development).
Q10 and PCOS
PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) is one of the most common hormone disturbances in women in their reproductive years. PCOS is characterized by missed periods, irregular periods, or very light periods. Other symptoms include elevated levels of male sex hormone and the presence of numerous small cysts (fluid-filled sacs) in the ovaries. PCOS is believed to be the underlying cause in 30 percent of involuntary infertility cases. Acne and unwanted male hair growth (hirsutism), obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease may also occur. Studies have been conducted where supplements of Q10 have been given alone or in combination with other fertility therapies. Several studies suggest that Q10 supplementation for 2-3 months may improve glucose tolerance (blood sugar levels) and blood lipids and lower levels of male sex hormone. Also, Q10 supplementation may reduce oxidative stress and levels of different inflammation markers. It is advised to eat foods that help stabilize blood sugar levels, reduce carbohydrate intake, and focus more on vegetables, protein, and healthy fats.
Q10 and male fertility
There are many unknown factors at play in impaired male fertility, but it is thought that mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress in the sperm cells may be involved. The sperm cells need generous amounts of energy to help them reach the egg, and it is vital for the sperm cells to be properly protected against oxidative stress. Damaged sperm cell DNA may result in DNA fragmentation, which can result in the rejection of the fertilized egg. The study authors mention studies where Q10 supplementation has been tested on male sperm quality. In one study, Q10 was given together with selenium because selenium deficiencies are rather common and because selenium improves the effect of Q10. They also mention a study of 80 infertile men that were supplemented with Q10, L-carnitine, L-arginine, glutathione, folic acid (vitamin B9), vitamin B12, zinc, and selenium. This treatment significantly improved sperm cell concentration, sperm cell motility, and the chances of pregnancy.
Q10, menopause, hormone therapy, and treatment for osteoporosis
Postmenopausal hormone treatment may lower levels of Q10 in the blood and potentially increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in postmenopausal women. Birth control pills can also lower Q10 levels, and the same is the case with the use of nitrogen-containing bisphosphonate (alendronate) that is used to treat osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. The reduced blood levels of Q10 may also contribute to some of the side effects.
Q10, the pituitary gland, the pineal gland, and the adrenal glands
There are not a lot of scientific studies of Q10 role in the pituitary gland, the pineal gland, and the adrenal gland. It does appear, however, that patients suffering from Cushing syndrome have oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction.
David Mantle and Iain Parry Hargreaves. Coenzyme Q10 and Endocrine Disorders: An Overview. Antioxidants 2023
Jan Aaset, Jan Alexander, Urban Alehagen. Coenzyme Q10 supplementation – In ageing and disease. Mechanisms of Ageing and Development. 2021
Illenia Cirilli et al. Role of Coenzyme Q10 in Health and Disease: an Update on the last 10 years (2010-2020). Antioxidants 2021
Bispebjerg Hospital. Færre kulhydrater forbedrer type 2-diabetikeres evne til at regulere blodsukkeret. Bispebjerg hospital.dk/presse-og-nyt/nyheder/nyhedsarkiv. 2019
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