An Introduction to Coenzyme Q10 for Athletic Horses
In today’s fast-paced competition world, horses must rebound quickly between performances. With an eye on expediting recovery, horse owners frequently turn to nutrition, and many find supplementation with research-proven antioxidants essential. A newcomer on the antioxidant scene, and one gaining more popularity among horsemen, is coenzyme Q10. Unfamiliar with coenzyme Q10? Read on.
What is coenzyme Q10? Coenzyme Q10 plays an essential role in the production of cellular energy, specifically acting as electron-transfer agents in the mitochondria. Further, coenzyme Q10 serves as an efficient antioxidant and is capable of recycling and revitalizing other antioxidants, such as vitamins E and C.
Why is coenzyme Q10 sometimes called ubiquinone? Coenzyme Q10 and ubiquinone are one and the same. When the compound was identified in the late 1950s, it was coined coenzyme Q10, due to its chemical structure. Its official name, ubiquinone, was bestowed upon it in 1975 by the commission that governs biochemical nomenclature. The name ubiquinone was derived from the adjective ubiquitous, a nod to the compound’s widespread distribution in nature.
Why isn’t coenzyme Q10 considered a vitamin? By definition, vitamins must be consumed, even if only in minute amounts, to sustain life. Coenzyme Q10 is synthesized in all body tissues and therefore cannot be considered a genuine vitamin.
When did research in coenzyme Q10 begin on horses? The importance of coenzyme Q10 was established in various species several decades ago, though no research had been conducted on horses. To rectify this, in the early 2010s, researchers set out to determine the presence of coenzyme Q10 in horses’ blood serum and then to examine response of coenzyme Q10 supplementation on serum concentration.*
What were the results of this initial study? The researchers found that serum of horses contained coenzyme Q10 but at a much lower concentration than humans and several other species. When orally supplemented with 800 mg of powdered coenzyme Q10, an increase of approximately 2.7-fold at 60 days was measured.
Was any work been done with exercising horses and coenzyme Q10 at that time? Yes, the same group of researchers that measured serum concentrations in the aforementioned study examined the effect of coenzyme Q10 supplementation and exercise on changes in plasma coenzyme Q10. Horses were given either 1.9 g or 3.4 g of coenzyme Q10 daily and participated in training regimes that consisted of gallops (low-intensity exercise) and breezes (high-intensity exercise). A significant decrease in the rise of plasma coenzyme Q10 following high-intensity exercise sessions was noted. Thus, horses receiving no coenzyme Q10 may have a noticeable depletion of coenzyme Q10 in plasma and tissues when subjected to intense exercise, leading to compromised performance. According to the researchers, “this study underscores the importance of coenzyme Q10 in Thoroughbred racehorses, and the need for coenzyme Q10 supplementation to mitigate oxidative stress especially during training in order to support their health and physical performance.”**
What is the latest research on coenzyme Q10 and horses? In collaboration with Stephanie Valberg, D.V.M., Ph.D., from Michigan State University, Kentucky Equine Research recently demonstrated that its nanodispersed liquid coenzyme Q10 product, Nano-Q10, promotes oxidative metabolism in skeletal muscle by increasing mitochondrial oxidative enzymes in conjunction with decreasing glycolytic enzymes. Proteomic analysis of muscle from 13 Thoroughbreds supplemented with Nano-Q10 showed upregulation of 13 mitochondrial proteins and downregulation of 9 glycolytic enzyme proteins.
“There’s an issue in Thoroughbred racehorses that seems to be associated with high levels of a specific enzyme in the blood called GGT” said Joe Pagan, Ph.D., president of Kentucky Equine Research. “We have some theories on what might cause this in certain horses—we think it may be related to oxidative stress—and it seems Nano-Q10 may be effective in reducing some of the problems we’re seeing. Preliminary research with our racehorses in Florida suggests that horses with higher serum CoQ10 have lower GGT.”
Nano-Q10 is a highly bioavailable form of coenzyme Q10. Nano-Q10 features advanced nanotechnology to create a rapidly available and absorbed source of coenzyme Q10.
*Sinatra, S.T., R.K. Chopra, S. Jankowitz, D.W. Horohov, and H.N. Bhagavan. 2013. Coenzyme Q10 in equine serum: Response to supplementation. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science 33:71-73.
**Sinatra, S.T., S.N. Jankowitz, R.K. Chopra, and H.N. Bhagavan. 2013. Plasma coenzyme Q10 and tocopherols in Thoroughbred race horses: Effect of coenzyme Q10 supplementation and exercise. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science.