Strenuous exercise produces strain on the body because of its high energy and physical demands which increases the creation of free radicals. Since CoQ10, particularly in its activated form Ubiquinol, is known to positively affect energy output and oxidative stress, this study assessed the benefit of short-term Ubiquinol supplementation on biological markers of performance and recovery in well-trained individuals undergoing strong physical exertion.
This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study included 68 firemen (average age, 38 years) who received 200 mg/day of Ubiquinol or placebo for two weeks prior to two sessions of intense physical exercise (a sequence of 10 bodybuilding exercises) with a 24-hour rest period between them.
There were no significant differences in anthropomorphic (body-type) measures, general physical activity, or dropouts between the two test groups. Levels of CoQ10 were significantly elevated in plasma and red blood cell membranes in the Ubiquinol group compared to placebo following supplementation and throughout the study (all p<0.05). Maintaining adequate [or healthy] levels of CoQ10 is especially important during exercise, to keep a ready supply for use in the production of cellular energy.
Isoprostanes (markers of oxidative stress, especially during exercise) were significantly lower in the Ubiquinol group before, during, and after the first exercise session compared to placebo at the same time points (all p<0.05).
The study also showed that intense exercise results in increased oxidation of LDL cholesterol (OxLDL). The control group showed statistically significant increases in OxLDL after both exercise sessions and during the intra-session rest period. The Ubiquinol group showed an increase only after the second session, suggesting that Ubiquinol protected LDL from oxidation during intense exercise. Maintaining low levels of OxLDL is important for overall vessel health.
In addition, levels of nitric oxide were elevated in both groups following the first exercise session, but decreased significantly in the placebo group before and after the second session, whereas they stayed elevated through the second session for the Ubiquinol group (all p<0.05). This suggests that Ubiquinol helps the body sustain NO levels under exertion.
Nitric oxide is a signaling molecule that dilates the blood vessels and thereby improves circulation. It is thought that by improving blood flow, more oxygen and nutrients can be delivered to muscles, which may improve performance and hasten recovery.
Supplementation with 200 mg/day of Ubiquinol for two weeks prior to strenuous exercise improved plasma CoQ10 levels, decreased oxidative stress markers, protected LDL cholesterol from oxidation, and maintained nitric oxide levels during physical exertion. These factors could potentially improve endothelial function, energetic substrate supply, and muscle recovery during strenuous exercise.