In a study supported by Kaneka Belgium, Spanish scientists point to the antioxidant’s protective qualities against structural damage in muscle cells in which CoQ10’s reduced form Ubiquinol also appears to aid kidney function.
“Our results indicate that maintaining high levels of CoQ10 in plasma during, at least, the hardest phase of the season, will help professional players to prevent muscle and kidney damage, reduce stress and promote higher physical capacity,” says the study led by Guillermo López-Lluch, professor of cell biology at the Pablo de Olavide university based in Spain.
“We can also speculate that CoQ10 can be safely used as a supplement in the prevention of accumulated damage in elite athletes and can reduce stress, probably improving recovery after muscle damage or even after retirement from competition.”
Antioxidant supplements are regularly used in many sports as a way to reduce muscle damage and/or decrease delayed onset muscle soreness.
Levels of ubiquinol have been inversely associated with cholesterol oxidation in both active and sedentary people and remains linked to prevention of oxidative damage in cell membranes.
While CoQ10 has been used extensively in sport studies, results have been mixed in the antioxidant’s ability to prevent oxidative stress or inflammation.
Many of these studies included non-professional healthy participants, where the effect of short-term supplementation was determined after only a single bout of physical activity or exercise.
The research team also point out that CoQ10’s bioavailability varies enormously among formulations and thus can affect studies with CoQ10 supplementation in athletes.
Athletic Bilbao FC
The research team began enrolling professional football players from the Spanish First League team Athletic Bilbao over the 2014/15 (sample size – 24) and 2015/16 (sample size – 25) football seasons.
Blood CoQ10 levels were noted as were stress (testosterone/cortisol) and muscle damage (creatine kinase) levels during the season: preterm, initial phase and mid phase.
Physical activity during matches was also recorded over the 2015/16 season in players participating in complete matches.
Results revealed that in the mid phase of competition, CoQ10 levels were higher in the 2015/16 compared to the 2014/15 season (906.8 vs. 584.3 picomole per millilitre (pmol/mL)).
The high levels of CoQ10 noted in the hardest phase of competition were linked to a reduction in the levels of the muscle-damage marker creatine kinase (Pearsons’ correlation coefficient (r) = 0.460) and for the stress marker cortisol (r = 0.252).
Plasma ubiquinol was also associated with better kidney function (r = 0.287 for uric acid) with high CoQ10 levels associated with higher muscle performance during matches.
“Our data suggests higher CoQ10 levels in plasma can be associated with higher performance during football matches,” the team says. “Although not reaching statistical significance in our study, a trend is suggested.
“Distance and mean speed during the match are associated with aerobic physical conditions and this is associated with higher CoQ10 levels.”
kidney efficiency boost
Regarding kidney function the team points to the study’s results that suggest higher CoQ10 levels can also improve kidney efficiency during competition reducing the levels of kidney damage markers in plasma.
“Our results agree with previous studies performed in long distance runners,” the team observes. “In the case of CoQ10 deficiency, nephropathies are a hallmark.
“Thus, in these cases and other pathological conditions, supplementation with CoQ10 has been associated with the improvement of kidney function
“Further research is needed in order to demonstrate a protective effect of CoQ10 in kidney function during competition.”
The team also acknowledge the study’s weaknesses mainly that it is an observational study and the researchers had no way of controlling diet and supplement consumption.
“Obviously, the control of professional athletes during competition is impossible in order to perform a typical clinical trial using placebo and supplemented groups for the duration of two complete soccer seasons.
“However, we consider this is an important occasion to study the evolution ofCoQ10 levels in professional athletes suffering from the pressure of strong competition as in soccer.”
Source: Int J Vitam Nutr Res
Published online: doi.org/10.1024/0300-9831/a000659
“High coenzyme Q10 plasma levels improve stress and damage markers in professional soccer players during competition.”
Authors: Ana Sánchez-Cuesta et al