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Shilajit Boosts CoQ10 Efficiency

February 2016

By Jonathan Stoddard

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) fuels cellular energy by boosting mitochondrial function.1-3

As we age, our internal production of CoQ10 declines and we face an energy crisis.

When cells are deficient in CoQ10, the result is accelerated aging.1,4 Studies have shown that CoQ10 can help protect against a host of degenerative illnesses.5-9

Ever since CoQ10 was discovered in 1957, scientists have strived to find ways to make it work more efficiently in the body.

A major advance occurred when Life Extension® introduced the ubiquinol form of CoQ10 in 2006. Compared to the previous version, ubiquinol better absorbs into the bloodstream and markedly slows aging in the animal model.

As if this weren’t enough, researchers have shown that a nutrient-rich biomass called shilajit can boost CoQ10 efficiency.10 Found in the Himalayas, shilajit is prized for its ability to carry energy and nutrition into the body.11

When CoQ10 and shilajit are combined, scientists have discovered improved mitochondrial function, enhancement of the mitochondria’s ability to convert food into energy, and increased energy available to tissues.10,12

The combination of CoQ10 and shilajit has been shown to result in elevated levels of the body’s primary source of energy: ATP (adenosine triphosphate).10,12

Shilajit plus CoQ10 enhances mitochondrial health, which is a vital factor in preventing aging and disease at the cellular level.

Ancient Remedy Solves Modern Energy Crisis

Ancient Remedy Solves Modern Energy Crisis 

For centuries, practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine (one of the world’s oldest holistic healing systems) relied on a curious substance called shilajit to treat or prevent a host of health problems.13-16 Preserved in the rocks of the Himalayas, shilajit is a rich organic material that forms in the part of the earth called the rhizosphere—the thin layer where living roots and microorganisms interact with the rocky core of the planet itself.13

In traditional medicine, shilajit is prized for its ability to restore energy, increase fertility, enhance immunity, and safeguard memory against the effects of aging.10,12

Now, modern scientists have proven that this rare herbal tonic beneficially impacts cellular energy, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease, and that it can reduce inflammation, improve memory, protect against cognitive decline, and more.10,12,13,17,18

As scientists further investigated the properties of shilajit, they determined that it is an adaptogen,13,14 which is a substance that helps the body adapt to internal and external stressors. In other words, shilajit is a natural stress-fighting, fatigue-busting substance that can not only help one feel revitalized, but can help rejuvenate tired cells. This can beneficially impact the entire body.

So how does it work?

It’s simple. Shilajit restores and sustains cellular energy by enhancing the production of the body’s primary source of energy: adenosine triphosphate, or simply ATP.12 ATP is the usable energy that is formed when organelles called mitochondria convert energy from food. As people age, this conversion process becomes sluggish, resulting in a body-wide energy deficiency.

Mitochondria and Aging

It would be impossible to overstate the importance mitochondria play in overall health and longevity. Mitochondria are cellular generators responsible for producing the body’s primary source of energy, called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP provides at least 95% of the cellular energy that powers all living functions, from muscle contractions to hormone production, and everything in between.

Unfortunately, mitochondria function less and less efficiently as we age, causing a ripple effect of health consequences throughout the entire body. Less available energy means organs and tissues function less efficiently. This makes mitochondrial dysfunction especially damaging for the heart and brain, since they have the highest energy demands in the body.19

It should come as no surprise, then, that mitochondrial dysfunction has been linked to numerous degenerative illnesses, ranging from diabetes to neurological disorders to heart failure.20,21

The high energy output of mitochondria makes them highly vulnerable to oxidative damage.22-26 Evidence strongly indicates that over time, accumulated damage to the DNA of the mitochondria leads directly to metabolic disorders (such as diabetes) and degenerative disorders (such as Alzheimer’s).27-36

Ultimately, the downstream effects caused by mitochondrial dysfunction speed aging and death. The scientific evidence on this point is so strong that a growing number of cell biologists believe that the number and functionality of the mitochondria can specifically determine an individual’s longevity.37-39

The good news is that it’s not only possible to slow this cellular aging process but reverse it. The key lies in a nutrient you’re already familiar with: coenzyme Q10.

What You Need to Know
Mitochondria and Aging

Mitochondria and Aging

  • Our bodies face an energy crisis as we age because our mitochondria begin to succumb to the ravages of high chemical and electrical stresses.
  • Aging mitochondria and low output of the energy-carrying molecule ATP are associated with accelerated aging of the brain, heart, and other organs.
  • Mitochondrial aging can be slowed, and their energy production restored, by administration of nutrients that smooth the flow of energy down the mitochondrial electron transport chain.
  • Shilajit, an ancient remedy sourced from minerals and organic substances from the Himalayas, contains compounds that shuttle electrons along that chain, reducing the damage to mitochondria to preserve their function.
  • Studies show that shilajit administration boosts ATP production, reduces mitochondrial damage, and protects heart and brain from age-associated energy loss.
  • When combined with CoQ10, shilajit may prove to be the ideal mitochondrial nutrient combination, and should be used in combination to optimally enhance your energy supply and protect your organs.

CoQ10 and Mitochondria

CoQ10 is already well-known for its ability to protect cells from damage, and for its remarkable effects against common heart ailments and neurological disorders.

What you might not know is that CoQ10 is absolutely essential for normal mitochondrial function (namely, the production and transfer of energy).1-3

Studies have found that when cells or organisms are deficient in CoQ10, it results in increased mitochondrial oxidative stress and accelerated aging.1,4 Supplementation with the right form of CoQ10 has been shown to slow aging in the animal model and extend life span.5,6

One study showed that rats supplemented with CoQ10 experience an 11.7% increase in average life span.40 In human terms, based on today’s life expectancy of 78.8 years, this translates to a more than nine-year increase in life span.41

The surge of available energy made possible by CoQ10 is especially beneficial for the heart. Studies have found that CoQ10 supplementation improves cardiac systolic function and ejection fraction.42,43 Another study showed that when combined with selenium, CoQ10 slashed the death rate from cardiovascular disease by more than half!44 The science is so strong that one of the study authors proclaimed CoQ10 to be a “scientific breakthrough in the management of chronic heart failure.”45

CoQ10 has two primary ways of protecting mitochondria from age-related decay and death. First, it plays an essential role in the electron transport chain, facilitating the efficient transfer of electrons into ATP.46 Second, it acts as a powerful scavenger of free radicals, neutralizing their lethal action and dramatically reducing oxidative damage.46

As a result, CoQ10 offers a powerful way to help slow, or even reverse, a natural aging process by restoring youthful mitochondrial protection against free radicals.47,48

There’s just one problem. CoQ10 can quickly become depleted in the body because it donates its own electrons in order to neutralize the flood of free radicals. That makes ensuring the body’s continued supply of CoQ10 critical.

And that’s why there continues to be so much excitement about shilajit. While practically unheard of in modern medicine, this ancient Ayurvedic adaptogen has been found to stabilize, revitalize, and preserve CoQ10 in its active (ubiquinol) form, boosting the levels of CoQ10 that are critical for protection against mitochondrial aging.10,14,17,49

When used along with CoQ10, the combination produces benefits above and beyond what each nutrient offers individually, providing a powerful synergistic effect that boosts energy, protects mitochondria, and reduces aging at the cellular level.

As you’re about to read, one particular breakthrough study demonstrates this perfectly.

Age-Related Decline in Coenzyme Q10 Tissue Levels
Age-Related Decline in Coenzyme Q10 Tissue Levels

As humans grow older, their natural internal synthesis of coenzyme Q10 diminishes greatly. Those who use statin drugs also suffer CoQ10 deficit.

The following list reveals the tissue-specific decrease in CoQ10 that occurs normally with aging:

Tissue Affected

% Decrease of CoQ10

Heart muscle wall

72%70

Pancreas

69%71

Epidermis (skin)

75%72

Kidney

35%71

Liver

17%71

Heart

57%71

Adrenal Gland

47%71

Powerful Duo Produces Dramatic Results

A team of researchers published a compelling study showing how shilajit plus CoQ10 preserves and protects energy function.10 The researchers engaged mice in strenuous and stressful physical activity for two hours each day for seven days.

Subjecting laboratory animals to obligatory exercise is one of the most direct ways to study energy balance. In a forced swim test, the animals swim to a state of exhaustion, and their blood is drawn both before and after exercise to measure energy markers. In unsupplemented animals, the expected outcome is a reduction in ATP, as mitochondria reach their maximum ability to produce it.

For this study, the animals were divided into groups that either received no supplements, CoQ10 alone, shilajit alone, or a combination of both shilajit and CoQ10.10 After subjecting the mice to the forced swim test, the researchers measured the ATP content in muscle, brain, and blood.

The unsupplemented group showed significant reductions in ATP content of muscle, brain, and blood. This was expected, since the exercise demanded ATP for energy, which was eventually exhausted as mitochondria failed to keep up.

Remarkably, all three supplemented groups maintained higher levels of ATP in muscle, brain, and blood. Individually, both shilajit and CoQ10 by themselves produced significant elevations of ATP compared with the unsupplemented animals. But the key discovery was that the combination of these two nutrients had a synergistic effect, producing greater ATP recovery than seen with either nutrient alone.

In fact, in the brain and blood, the shilajit/CoQ10 combination brought ATP levels back nearly to those of un-exercised control animals! As an added benefit, supplementation with shilajit prevented significant drops in CoQ10 levels in the blood of exercised mice.

Ultimately, the synergistic effects of shilajit plus CoQ10 offer an unparalleled option to protect mitochondrial DNA and combat aging.

In a similar experiment, mice were induced to develop chronic fatigue syndrome by undergoing daily forced swimming for 21 days, and then subjected to a series of stress tests that evaluated their mobility and anxiety levels.50 Shilajit was administered prior to the induction of chronic fatigue syndrome in some of the animals.

The results of this study showed that unsupplemented animals experienced prolonged immobility, decreased climbing behaviors, and increased anxiety. Supplemented mice did not demonstrate these deleterious changes. The supplemented animals also showed no signs of the chronic fatigue syndrome-induced mitochondrial oxidative stress seen in control animals. This study provides further demonstration of shilajit’s energy-boosting capabilities, and hints at the exciting neuro-behavioral effects seen in other studies.

Why Such Dramatic Results?

The answer lies in components found in shilajit that work synergistically with CoQ10 such as fulvic acid and related humic substances.

Fulvic acid stimulates mitochondrial energy transfer and makes mitochondrial extraction of energy more efficient,51 while humic substances speed the transfer of electrons along the electron transport chain, enhancing its efficiency.52-55

Ultimately, these actions give shilajit properties similar to a fuel supplement for a car engine: They make the entire energy-production apparatus run more efficiently, with fewer waste products and destructive effects. This keeps mitochondria in a youthful, more potent condition that allows them to deliver cleaner energy, in larger amounts, and with less wear and tear. This powerfully opposes the age-promoting effects of mitochondrial burnout.

Shilajit’s energy-boosting, mitochondrial-protecting capabilities translate into meaningful results in animal studies of two of the body’s biggest energy-consumers: the brain and heart.

The Cellular “Bucket Brigade”
The Cellular “Bucket Brigade”

Mitochondria are minuscule organelles that are responsible for converting energy from the food one ingests into usable energy. Without a consistent supply of that chemical energy, cells rapidly lose their viability, tissues function poorly, and organs begin to fail—all hallmarks of accelerating aging.

Mitochondria break down food into usable energy called ATP. This is a complex multi-step process that occurs along the electron transport chain, which serves as a “power line” through which chemical energy is released and transferred into ATP.

Like an aging power plant, mitochondria function less efficiently with time, causing them to work harder in order to produce the energy the body needs to function. As a result, the mitochondria gradually deteriorate, leading to a decrease in vital ATP production and an increase in free radical generation. Over time, this continuous free-radical onslaught destroys the mitochondria.

Left unchecked, this fatal cycle speeds the general decline in overall function that accompanies aging66-68 and contributes to the onset of degenerative disease.69

Think of the energy chain as an old-fashioned bucket brigade, with each enzyme and co-factor in the chain handing its electron burden on to the next in line. There are three ways to make the brigade more effective: You can-provide more members, speed the transfer of buckets from hand to hand, and make more water available to fill the buckets.

The combination of CoQ10 and shilajit support all three of these important steps.

CoQ10 provides more energy chain “members” to move electrons down the line to increase ATP production. Shilajit’s components speed electron transfer down the energy chain, making it more efficient52,53 and also make more electrons available to CoQ10, preserving CoQ10 in its active form.

These important actions rejuvenate aging mitochondria, boost ATP output, and free up energy for vital cellular processes.

Shilajit and the Aging Brain

One devastating consequence of mitochondrial aging and loss of ATP production is deterioration of the central nervous system function.

In fact, poor mitochondrial energy production is considered both a cause and a consequence of memory loss and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.56-58 A growing body of evidence shows that shilajit has the potential to reverse many of these neurological changes.

Numerous studies have shown that shilajit fights Alzheimer’s on multiple fronts. First, the neurotransmitter acetylcholine is known to be deficient in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Acetylcholine is a brain chemical that is important for memory and attention. It is believed that maintaining healthy acetylcholine could help prevent the worsening of Alzheimer’s symptoms. That’s where shilajit comes in: It helps produce a beneficial increase in acetylcholine in the brain by reducing levels of an enzyme that breaks it down.59

Another hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease is the buildup of abnormal proteins called tau (within brain cells) and beta-amyloid (outside of cells), which appear to induce neuronal dysfunction and early cell death. Inhibiting these abnormal protein deposits is a promising target of Alzheimer’s drug therapy, though no drug has yet emerged that effectively reduces such aggregates.60,61

But shilajit has succeeded where drugs have failed: Lab studies demonstrate that one of the principal substances in shilajit (fulvic acid) inhibits the buildup of dangerous tau proteins. It even goes one step beyond that. In an exciting discovery, shilajit was found to significantly untangle filaments of the offending protein, an apparent reversal of the progression of Alzhiemer’s!60,61

Shilajit exerts beneficial effects on Parkinson’s disease by increasing levels of essential neurotransmitters (brain signaling molecules) such as dopamine, which is reduced in Parkinson’s. In addition, an early study on rats in mazes showed that shilajit significantly improved performance and reduced anxiety levels.62

Energy Availability in Forced-Swim Mice10
Energy Availability in Forced-Swim Mice

Treatment Group

ATP in Muscle
(µmol/g)

ATP in Brain (µmol/g)

ATP in Blood

(mmol/L)

Control

1.39

0.27

0.69

Swim only

0.25

0.18

0.45

Swim + shilajit

0.49

0.21

0.59

Swim + CoQ10

0.48

0.20

0.57

Swim + shilajit + CoQ10

0.61

0.28

0.62

Energy availability from ATP in muscle, brain, and blood of mice. ATP levels plunge from control to swim-only groups, reflecting exhaustion of unsupplemented mitochondria unable to produce more ATP, but animals supplemented with either CoQ10 or shilajit have moderate increases in ATP, and dually supplemented animals have highest ATP levels of all, reflecting synergistic effect of both nutrients.

Shilajit and Heart Function

Shilajit and Heart Function 

Ayurvedic practitioners have traditionally used shilajit as a treatment for hypertension and improving heart function.63 Recent studies have validated shilajit’s heart-healthy benefits, specifically for those with high blood pressure or other cardiac stressing conditions.

The first study evaluated a tiny marine organism called Daphnia. Although they are invertebrates, Daphnia have hearts that respond similarly to those of humans when exposed to a variety of cardiac medications, making them an ideal test organism.63 When Daphnia were treated with low doses of shilajit, their heart rates fell significantly, an effect frequently sought in patients with high blood pressure or other cardiac stressing conditions, suggesting a use for shilajit in humans with these conditions.63

Similar reductions in heart rate and blood pressure were seen in laboratory rats. One particular study showed that shilajit has important effects that mimic the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the system that goes into action to induce the opposite of the “fight-or-flight” reflex, producing a state of calm, with low heart rate and blood pressure.64 Healthy rats treated with shilajit showed significant reductions in blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate, suggesting a beneficial energy-conserving status.64

Many people are excited to learn that shilajit helps protect against the kind of heart muscle injury that occurs during a heart attack. This was demonstrated in a study of rats that were divided into two groups: one served as a control group and the other received shilajit supplementation for seven days prior to treatment with a drug (isoproterenol) that induces heart muscle injury.65

Following treatment with isoproterenol, unsupplemented animals developed areas of heart muscle damage and a loss of pressure generated by heart contractions. By contrast, shilajit-supplemented rats maintained pumping pressure, had smaller and less severe areas of muscle damage, and displayed lower levels of injury-marking heart muscle enzymes.65

Summary

Mitochondrial dysfunction is linked to a broad range of degenerative illness, from diabetes and neurological disorders to heart and kidney failure.

Shilajit helps combat mitochondrial dysfunction-induced aging. Working synergistically with CoQ10, shilajit boosts energy, protects mitochondria, and reduces aging at the cellular level.

Studies show that shilajit acts like a fuel supplement in a race car, boosting efficiency and reducing wear and tear on essential structures. These effects are showing great promise in preventing the aging of energy-intensive tissues like the heart and brain.

Most readers of this magazine have enjoyed the synergistic effects of shilajit and ubiquinol CoQ10 for the past eight years in the supplements they use daily.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.

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