Coenzyme Q10 could be a powerful dietary supplement in sports nutrition and especially in the elderly, Italian scientists suggest. Ubiquinol, the active form of Q10, in combination with exercise helps prevent oxidative stress and supports the mitochondrial function of skeletal muscles.
Aging skeletal muscles are characterized by a progressive decrease in muscle mass and strength. Such muscle disorders are usually associated with structural and functional changes of the mitochondria of the skeletal muscles. Mitochondria can be found in almost all body cells. They are the energy factories of the cell. The nutrients that enter the body are broken down into substances that the body cells can use. The processing of fuel into energy, also known as ATP, takes place in the mitochondria.
Ubiquinol and exercise
SAMP8 mice were used in the study by the Italian University of Camerino. These are naturally occurring mice, characterized by early aging and a high degree of oxidative stress. The aim was to investigate whether a combined intervention with mild exercise and ubiquinol supplementation could improve mitochondrial function and maintain skeletal muscle health during aging.
Five-month-old SAMP8 mice, in a pre-sarcopenia phase, are randomly divided into four groups:
- Untreated controls
- Mice treated for two months with physical exercise (0.5 km/h, on a 5% inclination, for 30 min, 5/7 days per week)
- Mice treated for two months with ubiquinol (500 mg/kg/day)
- Mice treated with a combination of exercise and ubiquinol.
Two months of physical exercise significantly increased mitochondrial damage in the muscles of exercised mice when compared to controls. On the contrary, ubiquinol and physical exercise combination significantly improved the overall status of the skeletal muscle, preserving mitochondrial ultrastructure and limiting mitochondrial depolarization induced by physical exercise alone.
Improving mitochondrial functionality
In conclusion, this study shows that the combination treatment provided a synergistic effect to improve skeletal muscle status: thus counteracting the harmful effects of ROS (oxidative stress), and improving mitochondrial function in these SAMP8 mice. These results suggest that ubiquinol may be a powerful supplement for the elderly, in addition to adequate exercise.