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Three-Step Strategy to Reverse Mitochondrial Aging

August 2013

By Michael Downey

CoQ10: Potential Therapy for Inherited Mitochondrial Disorder
CoQ10: Potential Therapy for Inherited Mitochondrial Disorder

Newly released research underscores the vital importance of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) to mitochondrial health.

A study released ahead of print in April 2013 by the journal Mitochondrion has found that patients with mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome (MDS) have significantly deficient levels of CoQ10.85 MDS is a hereditary condition characterized by grossly reduced cellular levels of mitochrondrial DNA in infancy. MDS involves various progressive disorders that are often fatal in childhood.86

Currently, there are no effective therapies available for MDS86—but this recent finding indicates that CoQ10 could represent a candidate therapy for this condition.

The suggestion that CoQ10 may constitute a therapeutic hope for treating this serious mitochondrial-deficiency disorder demonstrates just how powerfully CoQ10 protects mitochondria.

This also underscores CoQ10’s vital importance in slowing or reversing the “natural” aging process in healthy individuals.

PQQ Creates New Mitochondria

While coenzyme Q10 optimizes mitochondrial function and protects them from free radical damage, scientists have found another coenzyme that triggers the creation of new mitochondria altogether.

A huge research advance in 2012 showed that the coenzyme pyrroloquinoline quinone (or PQQ) activates genes that induce mitochondrial biogenesisthe spontaneous formation of new mitochondria in aging cells!57

This represents a major breakthrough in battling the mitochondrial destruction that underlies aging.

PQQ deficiency has a profound effect on your genes—especially those involved in cellular stress, cell signaling, transport of metabolites, and of course, the creation of new mitochondria.57 Specifically, PQQ deficiency negatively affects the expression pattern of 438 genes—but research has found that this effect is reversed after supplementation with PQQ.57

Prior to this breakthrough, some of the only scientifically validated ways to reliably stimulate the creation of new mitochondria were sustained calorie restriction or strenuous physical activity—both of which are too rigorous and impractical for most aging people.58,59 PQQ now provides the most practical means of reversing the deadly decline in functional mitochondria that is the underlying cause of premature aging and degenerative disease.

Earlier findings repeatedly indicated PQQ’s central role as a potent growth factor.60,61 In preclinical trials, when animals were deprived of dietary PQQ, they exhibited stunted growth, impaired conception rates, and most importantly, fewer mitochondria.62-64 However, re-introducing PQQ into the diet reversed these effects—while simultaneously increasing mitochondrial number and energetic efficiency.62,63

Like CoQ10, PQQ also actively supports the energy transfer within the mitochondria that supplies the body with most of its bioenergy. Its exceptional stability allows it to carry out thousands of these transfers without undergoing molecular breakdown. PQQ has been proven especially effective in neutralizing two of the most potent free radicals, the superoxide and hydroxyl radicals.65

5,000 Times More Effective than Vitamin C!

Research demonstrates that PQQ is 30 to 5,000 times more efficient at reducing oxidation than other common antioxidants such as vitamin C.60

In a revealing 2010 study, scientists reported that similar protection of mitochondrial function that is seen with some other compounds (such as quercetin, hydroxytyrosol, and resveratrol) at high dietary concentrations measured in millimoles occurs with PQQ at dietary concentrations measured in nanomoles.66 In other words, it takes a million times more of these other compounds to have a mitochondria-protective effect equivalent to PQQ!

The revelation of its ability to favorably affect system-wide cell development, metabolism, and mitochondrial biogenesis helps explain the wealth of data on PQQ’s neuroprotective and cardioprotective benefits.

PQQ has now been shown to block the development of abnormal proteins linked with neurodegenerative diseases. For example, it prevents cellular damage and demise due to accumulation of amyloid beta protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease,67,68 and of the alpha-synuclein protein that is associated with Parkinson’s disease.57,69

In humans, supplementation with 20 milligrams a day of PQQ significantly improved cognitive function in middle-aged and elderly people. These results were amplified when the subjects also took 300 milligrams per day of CoQ10.70

In animal studies, researchers investigating its impact on cardiovascular disease have demonstrated that PQQ reduces the size of the heart area damaged by acute heart attack and favorably decreases lipid peroxidation.71 PQQ also helps heart muscle cells resist acute oxidative stress—specifically by preserving and enhancing mitochondrial function.72

Neither humans nor the bacteria that colonize the human digestive tract have demonstrated the ability to synthesize PQQ,73 which has led researchers to classify it as an essential micronutrient. This means that the body can’t make enough of it for good health—and that supplementation is essential.74

Shilajit Revitalizes CoQ10

Shilajit Revitalizes CoQ10

We’ve already learned that CoQ10 protects mitochondria from free radical damage. It does this by “depleting” itself—by donating its own electrons to (and thus neutralizing) the flood of free radicals generated during cellular energy production. Of course, this results in depleted stores of active CoQ10.

Studies have detailed how shilajit, a phyto-mineral pitch substance found in the Himalayas,75-77 stabilizes, revitalizes, and preserves CoQ10 in its active (ubiquinol) form, boosting the levels of CoQ10 available to protect against mitochondrial aging. 78-81

Cutting-edge scientific evidence has demonstrated that components of shilajit serve as electron reservoirs, replenishing electrons lost by CoQ10 and allowing this vital coenzyme to remain active longer.78-80

Shilajit’s potent support of CoQ10’s mitochondrial protection against aging was validated when laboratory mice were subjected to strenuous and stressful physical exercise. The combination of shilajit and CoQ10 resulted in 27% greater ATP energy production in muscle cells—and in 40% greater energy production in brain cells—than the energy increase measured in these tissues with CoQ10 alone.80

In other research, mice were initially supplemented with oral CoQ10 alone. As expected, CoQ10 levels rose in heart, liver, and kidney tissue. Remarkably, when components from shilajit were added to the supplement, CoQ10 levels rose even further—as much as 29% in liver tissue.81

Another element of shilajit—fulvic acid—has been shown to further support this process by channeling other electron-rich shilajit components into the mitochondria to support CoQ10 and electron transfer.82 Fulvic acid also works independently to stimulate mitochondrial energy metabolism and protect mitochondrial membranes from oxidative damage.82,83

In an unpublished study, people who took 200 milligrams of shilajit once daily for 15 days registered an increase in ATP levels in the blood after exercise. 84

Ultimately, the synergistic effects of shilajit plus CoQ10—combined with the capacity of PQQ to create new mitochondria—offer an unparalleled option to protect mitochondrial DNA and combat aging!

Ubiquinol Provides Superior Bioavailability
Ubiquinol Provides Superior Bioavailability

Called a “coenzyme” because of its unique ability to participate in chemical reactions but remain at steady-state levels in the cell, coenzyme Q10 plays a central role in energy metabolism.28-30

CoQ10’s ability to cycle back and forth between ubiquinone and ubiquinol accounts for many of its unique properties. Ubiquinol, with its ability to scavenge free radicals, is an electron donor, while ubiquinone is an electron acceptor. This remarkable ability to cyclically accept and donate electrons, as well as to effect complementary chemical reactions in the mitochondria, accounts for CoQ10’s unparalleled value to almost all life forms.

The chemical difference between ubiquinone and ubiquinol is that the ubiquinol compound contains two hydroxyl groups. These two hydroxyl groups enable ubiquinol to be more easily dissolved into water than ubiquinone, thus making it easier to assimilate, which helps explain why it is so much more bioavailable than ubiquinone.

In a side-by-side single-dose human study, ubiquinol absorption was compared directly to conventional CoQ10 (ubiquinone) using the same delivery system. Subjects were given either 100 mg of ubiquinol or 100 mg of ubiquinone. The findings showed that in aged test subjects, ubiquinol absorption was 60% greater in this single-dose side-by-side comparison.87

A review of published studies on human subjects reveals that it requires very high doses of ubiquinone CoQ10 to achieve the same levels attainable with modest amounts of ubiquinol CoQ10.88-92 Clinical studies using 1,200 and 2,400 mg per day of ubiquinone achieved CoQ10 blood levels similar to 150 and 300 mg per day respectively of ubiquinol.88-91


According to the mitochondrial theory of aging, damage to mitochondrial DNA from the massive free-radical assault of cellular energy production is a root mechanism of aging. The body produces CoQ10 to protect mitochondrial DNA, but levels decline rapidly with age.

Scientists have discovered that it can take almost a decade for this aging damage to become permanent. The good news is that early stage mitochondrial dysfunction can be reversed!

Breakthrough research found that two coenzymes (CoQ10 and PQQ) can work together to protect mitochondria against free radical assaults—and to create new mitochondria in the process.

Supplemental coenzyme Q10 blocks mitochondrial aging, while PQQ triggers the creation of new mitochondria. In addition, shilajit works synergistically with CoQ10, replenishing its electrons and prolonging its antioxidative effectiveness.

Taken together, CoQ10 and PQQ and shilajit offer a potent program to inhibit—and reverse—the intensely destructive cycle that is believed to be a root source of aging!

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