CoQ10 Adds to Mediterranean Diet’s Anti-Aging Benefits

Elderly men and women who supplement Mediterranean-style meals with coenzyme Q10 (coQ10) enjoy greater antioxidant protection and could slow aging, a Spanish study finds (1).

In a randomized crossover trial, University of Cordoba researchers assigned 20 healthy adults (ages 65 and older) to one of the three dietary protocols for the duration of four weeks: a traditional Western-style diet rich in saturated fats, a Mediterranean-style diet rich in olive oil, or a Mediterranean-style diet supplemented with coQ10 (200 mg/day in capsules).

The scientists found that the combination (Mediterranean-style meals and coQ10) improved antioxidant activity and reduced cellular oxidative stress in the subjects more successfully than the Mediterranean-style or Western-style diet alone.

The Mediterranean-style diet protocols also exhibited greater heart-protective benefits in comparison to the Western-style diet. The scientists noticed a significantly greater decrease in HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol) levels in response to the Western-style meals.

Writing in the December issue of AGE, the authors concluded that the effect of the Mediterranean-style diet rich in olive oil, in combination with coQ10, may have “favorable effects on the aging process” and on the prevalence of age-related conditions.

Previous studies, noted by the authors, have found that the olive-oil rich diet supplemented with coQ10 also improves capillary blood flow and helps maintain healthy blood pressure.

Mediterranean-style diet

A Mediterranean-style diet generally includes greater amounts of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and olive oil; at least two servings of fish and seafood per week; moderate amounts of poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt; and fewer meats and sweets.

In this study, the Mediterranean-style diet consisted of 15 percent of calories as protein, 47 percent as carbohydrate, and 38 percent as fat (24 percent monounsaturated fats [from virgin olive oil], 10 percent saturated fat, and 4 percent polyunsaturated fatty acid).

The Western-style diet consisted of 15 percent calories as protein, 47 percent as carbohydrate, and 38 percent as fat (12 percent monounsaturated fats, 22 percent saturated fats, and 4 percent polyunsaturated fats).

Several other studies have pointed to anti-aging benefits from the Mediterranean-style diet. One such study, just published by researchers at Rush University, of Chicago, in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition linking the diet to a healthier brain in older age (2).

CoQ10 and Oxidative Stress

CoQ10 is a major fat-soluble antioxidant found in all cell membranes, especially within mitochondrial membranes. It’s one of the cell’s most potent scavengers of free radicals, neutralizing the lipid peroxyl radicals that damage cell membranes, proteins and DNA.

Antioxidants are the body’s first line of defense against free radicals and byproducts of metabolism that could lead to cellular decline and dysfunction.

The ability of humans to synthesize coQ10 declines 20 percent for every decade of life after the age of 21. This reduction leads to deficiency, weakness and fatigue throughout the body.

Lower coQ10 levels in tissues and cells can allow for more damage on nearby lipids, proteins and DNA. Because coQ10 is chiefly instrumental (along with selenium) for the regeneration of vitamin E, another potent fat-soluble antioxidant, the diminished coQ10 levels also lead to declines in levels of vitamin E.


1. Yubero-Serrano EM, Delgado-Casado N, Delgado-Lista J et al. Postprandial antioxidant effect of the Mediterranean diet supplemented with coenzyme Q(10) in elderly men and women. Age (Dordr ) 2010.
2. Tangney CC, Kwasny MJ, Li H, Wilson RS, Evans DA, Morris MC. Adherence to a Mediterranean-type dietary pattern and cognitive decline in a community population. Am J Clin Nutr 2010.

Published by David Despain, MS, CFS

David is a science and health writer living on Long Island, New York. He's written for a variety of publications including Scientific American, Outside Online, the American Society for Nutrition's (ASN) Nutrition Notes Daily, and Institute of Food Technologists' (IFT) Food Technology magazine and Live! blog. He's also covered new findings reported at scientific meetings including Experimental Biology, AAAS, AOCS, CASW, Sigma Xi, IFT, and others on his personal blog "Evolving Health." David is also an active member of organizations including the National Association of Science Writers (NASW), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Society for Nutrition, the Institute of Food Technologists, and the National Audubon Society. David has a master's degree in human nutrition from the University of Bridgeport, and a bachelor's degree in English from University of Illinois at Springfield. He also earned his Certified Food Scientist credential from the Institute of Food Technologists.

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