CoQ10 is a vitamin-like compound that is produced naturally in the human body.
It is a very essential component of the mitochondria, where it helps in metabolizing fats and carbs, as well as maintaining cell membrane flexibility.
The mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell where energy is produced), contain the most CoQ10 out of anywhere, and in the human body most of CoQ10 is found in the heart and the liver.
CoQ10 for the Heart
CoQ10 and Ubiquinol Studies have been done that have shown those who take around 100mg CoQ10 daily have improved how well their heart pumps blood (ejection fraction) by around 4% compared to placebo in people with mild-to-moderate heart failure (Fotino, Am J Clin Nutrition 2013).
The largest and longest clinical study to date found that taking 100mg 3x daily of CoQ10 for 2 years significantly reduced the chance of an advanced cardiovascular event (hospitalization, worsening heart failure, death) by almost 50% compared to placebo in people with moderate-to-severe heart failure. This supplement is of course used in addition to (not instead of) prescription heart failure treatment.
Also it is worthy to note that the beneficial effects of CoQ10 may not be seen until after several months of treatment.
CoQ10 and Those Suffering from Angina
Patients taking 150mg per day of CoQ10 have reported a greater ability to exercise without experiencing as much chest pain. This has been confirmed in independent investigations.
It appears that CoQ10 increases the heart’s tolerance to a lack of oxygen. This may be why that problems resulting from heart surgery are happening less in those given CoQ10 compared with the control group.
Alzheimer’s Disease and Muscular Dystrophy
In people struggling with muscular dystrophy, it was found that the mitochondria in their muscles lack adequate CoQ10. In a double-blind three-month trial, four of eight people with muscular dystrophy saw improvements in heart function and generally felt better when supplementing with CoQ10.
In those with Alzheimer’s, mitochondrial function also appeared to be impaired. One group of researchers then gave CoQ10 (along with supplements of iron and vitamin B6) to several people with Alzheimer’s and reported that the progression of the disease was prevented for up to two years.
Note: There Could Be Better Absorption with Ubiquinol Supplements
I went to the health food store today to replenish my CoQ10 supply and noticed in the same section (and related to CoQ10) was “ubiquinol” and I didn’t know what it was, so I did some research.
Apparently, the CoQ10 found in most supplements is in the oxidized state (ubiquinone), but once it is in the body it goes into its reduced state, which is ubiquinol — and that is its active, antioxidant form. Ubiquinol is predominant in the body.
Ubiquinol is sometimes referred to as CoQH-10 or CoQH2-10. Research isn’t clear that it provides an advantage, though a small study of congestive heart failure patients suggested better absorption with ubiquinol as opposed to CoQ10.
I encourage you to do more of your own research (and talk to your doctor) about CoQ10 and see if it would be a supplement worth taking for you, as it seems to have an incredible amount of benefits for those affected with certain medical problems.
The Great Debate Between How Much Protein You Need
If you’re into any physically intensive activity, you may have experienced mixed input as far as how much protein you need. Nutritionists or doctors will tell you one thing and personal trainers might tell you another.
For me, it all started by ramping up my fitness routines and thinking it would help me recover from being sore as well as help to build muscle. In general I knew I just needed to get the proper amount of protein in my diet if I was doing intensive exercise, and it can be difficult to get enough in your diet purely from food sources, especially when you are doing a lot of weights/strength training and conditioning.
I didn’t know anything about how much I really needed at the time, except for some fitness enthusiasts saying I needed as much as 2g per one lb. of body weight. For me, that would be about 280g of protein per day.
Focusing on Balance
I never got this much in my diet, or even half that, and I’m glad I didn’t, because your body doesn’t actually need that much protein. In fact, as far as muscle repair and building goes, unless you have the proper amount of carb intake in your diet, your body will instead use the protein for energy and less of that protein will even go to muscle repair and building.
So rather than focusing purely on getting all your protein in, it’s more important that you focus on a good daily balance of all your macronutrients – carbs, protein, and healthy fats, so that your body can work with all of these to establish what it needs to function optimally.
How Much Protein Do You Actually Need?
I learned from a doctor I trust (Dr. Andrew Weil, MD) that protein residues from the metabolism of protein can irritate the immune system and they make your digestive system work extra hard, which can in itself drain your energy.
Additionally, NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) recommends that strength athletes get 0.5–0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight, and endurance athletes get 0.5–0.6 grams of protein per pound of body weight. They also cover in their textbook for personal training the common occurrence of fitness professionals recommending too much protein. For this reason I was surprised that many of them continued to do so.
The Way I Use Protein Powders
My opinion has changed over time as I’ve learned more about protein powders and which types are better than others. When I first started using them, I did my research as far as well-reviewed protein powders, but I didn’t know as much as I know now about actually analyzing the ingredients. My source for finding protein powders before was looking at fitness forums and seeing what many people in the fitness world were using for protein powders. What I didn’t realize is that many people were going with what tasted good and what was popular, but not necessarily what was the best formulation.
For my personal goals, I use protein as a quick, cost-effective way to get more protein in my diet and to help support my exercise routines. I use it more as a supplement rather than a meal replacement as some people do, because I believe real, whole food comes first–and plus, I’ve got a healthy appetite–I need both! But protein powders have absolutely helped manage hunger while providing that extra protein I need as well as nutrients in my diet.
Many protein powders have around the same amount of protein per serving – around 20-30mg and contain various amino acids to help with muscle building and repair. I started off in the beginning just purchasing regular whey protein with added amino acids, but didn’t have much else in them. These days, I buy more of an all-around nutritious solution that includes probiotics, digestive enzymes, all organic ingredients, omega 3 fatty acids, and so on.
The Round Up – My Approved and Favorite Protein Powders Thus Far
These are my favorites so far based on taste, texture, and wholesome ingredients. Unfortunately most of them are on the pricier end compared to many powders out there, but still cost-effective when compared to purchasing and preparing a meal or snack. I also have switched from whey protein to plant proteins just to try them out, and also upon hearing study upon study in regards to the benefits of following a plant-based diet.
By the way, here’s what I look for in protein powders:
No artificial sweeteners
Low carb and no added sugars
All natural, high-quality ingredients (pure grass-fed whey, etc)
Completely recognizable ingredients list (not a bunch of obviously processed stuff)
All Around Nutritious Protein Powders with Enzymes, Probiotics, Amino Acids, and More
1. Garden of Life Organic Plant Protein – Awesome, delicious, easy on the stomach. Full of high-quality ingredients and packed with nutrients, probiotics and enzymes. This protein is great just being blended with unsweetened vanilla almond milk and nothing else added. I am such a huge fan, though it’s definitely on the pricier end compared to some of the other ones. “Smooth coffee” and “Smooth Energy” are the only flavors I’ve tried (not sure what flavor the latter was exactly), but both were equally as good. I use this one as an “after breakfast” and “before lunch” snack.
2. Plant Fusion “Phood” Shake – So this one I just recently tried when looking for a Shakeology alternative that was cheaper. This one is packed full of great ingredients as well. But, when I first tried it, it did have almost too much of a Stevia taste, but it’s not bothersome and I actually got accustomed to it after the first couple sips and didn’t notice it anymore. Because of that though, this shake is lowest on my list of favorites as far as taste goes. But still has made it to be a favorite because it still tastes pretty good, and it has a nice smooth, thick texture – just like I like it when mixing in the blender.
3. Garden of Life Raw Proteins & Greens – This one is my current favorite. It’s a meal replacement packed full of great ingredients. Includes probiotics and enzymes, and is sweetened with stevia. Great taste, in my opinion. I use this one in the chocolate flavor (and can’t speak for the other flavors since I haven’t tried them), and I mix it in with frozen bananas, sometimes other frozen berries, vanilla almond milk and sometimes some spinach and avocado. Lately I am loving using powders that have more than just pure protein.
Pure Whey Protein Powders
1. Reserveage Whey Protein – Chocolate – One of my grass-fed whey protein favorites, this one tastes amazing and has an awesome texture and thickness to it (unless you overblend). 🙂 I don’t buy this one often anymore because it’s basically just pure whey protein, and I’ve been preferring the all-around nutritional blends these days. It also has dairy, which I’ve been trying to cut out. But aside from all of those personal preferences, it’s an amazing product.
2. Naked Whey – This is one I haven’t tried personally, but would recommend to try for its wholesome ingredients. Another pure grass-fed whey protein powders.
I have tried quite a few different protein powders at this point, but these are the powders that have stood out to me in terms of quality ingredients, taste, and texture.
I also do love Shakeology, by the way – the texture, taste, and nutritional value is amazing – but I personally believe you can find an equal, or close to an equal for cheaper, which is what I sought out to do.
If you have any others with wholesome ingredients that taste awesome, feel free to share with me, I’d love to try them. I may come back later and have to add to this list or make a second blog post!
As someone who has suffered from anxiety pretty much my whole life as well as being born with petit mal seizure disorder (either that, or developing it super early on), I always felt that my anxiety was due to how my brain was “wired” – as opposed to a vitamin/mineral deficiency, nor from just a passing phase or due to something entirely circumstantial (also obvious due to the consistency of it that I have experienced over the years). I also had thought that it was possibly linked to epilepsy because of other people I had met and research I had done that showed me a large number of people that had both. And, I’ve frequently experienced a “brain fog” and “out of it” feeling throughout my life which I have attributed to the epilepsy, especially when I was much younger when my epilepsy was much worse (throughout elementary/jr. high/high school). To top all of this, there are a number of people in my family that have suffered (or still do suffer) from either anxiety, depression, or both, so there was that too.
Not too long in the recent past, I also went through a phase of a few years of getting migraines regularly. I couldn’t tell what they were caused by. Oddly, after a few years of having them, they went away for the most part. The only thing I had changed was that I drank more water, adopted a healthier diet in general, and ate less wheat, dairy, and gluten. I can’t say whether the combination of all of these, one of these, or any of these at all had an effect on my migraines – although I am sure eating healthier and getting regular exercise in the very least helped.
MTHFR mutation and Its Link to Several Disorders and Diseases
So with all of this past history of mine, in my research I recently came across a potential genetic link in people with anxiety disorders – those people testing positive for what they call a “MTHFR” gene mutation. But certainly not only applicable to anxiety disorders, research is showing that this gene mutation may have an influence on epilepsy, migraines, depression, brain fog, fatigue, ADHD, and many other things – depending on which form of the genetic mutation you have. That’s why this research caught my attention. So many of these issues are issues that I’ve struggled with for as long as I can remember and that I’ve always suspected were linked, in some way or another. On top of that, it has shown to be extremely common for patients that have been tested to actually end up having a mutation on this gene.
MTHFR stands for methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, which is an enzyme that activates folic acid by adding a methyl group to it. Basically, people with a mutation on this gene are unable to activate folic acid (which is actually synthetic) and process it into a type of folate that your body can use. The process that your body uses to convert folic acid to methylfolate is called “methylation.”
The specific name for activated folate (the form your body is able to use) is 5MTHF. This, along with other nutrients, allows your brain to create immune cells and process hormones, as well as process neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine, epinephrine, and dopamine.
By the way, folate is required to make every cell in your body, so if your body is not able to activate it properly, there are naturally many problems that can be a result of this.
Sources of Folate
One of the best natural sources of folate is in uncooked spinach. However, many multivitamins and B-complex vitamins contain folic acid, instead of “folate” or “methylfolate”. So luckily if you do have one of the mutations of this gene, you can supplement with just folate itself (and eating more spinach!) – and look for vitamins that list folate instead of folic acid. However, it really is best to consult your primary care physician or naturopath, as supplementing with folate or 5MTHF is something that can cause noticeable side effects and in most cases you will want to start a small dose and work your way up. What you’ll need is also dependent on your specific body’s makeup and which type of mutation you actually have. Many nutrients and processes can/will be affected upon supplementing with methylfolate, so it’s especially essential in this case to be careful and not just take things carelessly without understanding how it may be actually affecting your body.
Testing for Mutations on the MTHFR Gene
One cost-effective way you can test for this is to order a DNA test from 23andme.com, and you will receive raw data from that test that you can then upload to an online tool such as Promethease or Genetic Genie that will help evaluate whether you have mutations on this gene. There are also doctors who will offer consultations to walk you through the data once you have it and help you interpret the information you receive. I don’t have any personal experience with doing it this way, but rather just found out online that it was a possibility and am passing on the info.
Doctors may also naturally end up testing for any mutations on this gene upon seeing from a lab test that your homocysteine levels came back high, as this can be one sign of having one of the many types of mutations of this gene. Which leads me to the next section…
MTHFR Mutation Types
While there are many types of mutation on this gene, the most well-studied (and what appear to be the most common) are the MTHFR gene mutations that are found at position C677T and/or position A1298C on the MTHFR gene. Having genetic mutations on one of the other will produce different side effects. If you have mutations on both positions of the gene, it is more serious and you will likely have side effects from both.
Depending on how many genes are affected will be classified as such:
Heterozygous Mutation: The most common and least severe of the mutations, this basically just means you have one normal gene and one mutated gene, either on the 677 or 1289 position. In either case, your MTHFR enzyme will only run at around 55–70% efficiency.
Homozygous Mutation: In this case you have two affected genes, and the MTHFR enzyme will only run at around 7–10% efficiency.
Compound Heterozygous Mutation: This is one mutation on the 677 position of the gene and one mutation of the 1298 gene. This is more serious as mentioned above as you will potentially have issues as a result of both of these types of mutations.
Links Between the MTHFR Gene Mutation and Autism
There has also been a great deal of research done at this point on autistic children and the MTHFR gene mutation due to the fact that folate and methylation play such an important role in neurologic development. The research has shown that there is a significantly higher frequency of mutations on the 677 position of the gene as compared to the control population. Increased folinic acid during pregnancy may help offset any risk for mutations on this gene for the baby (see this study to read more on the link between autism and the MTHFR gene).
There is so much more about this particular gene and its potential mutations than I could go into in this article. As with anything in the human body, it gets enormously complex and can be difficult to digest in one sitting. I’d encourage you to do some research on your own (and make sure they are from reputable sources); a few great links that I have pulled information from are below.
All in all, I’m grateful that we have found out what we have about this gene and that it may possibly help me to understand my own conditions. We are beginning to find out more and more about this through the science of genetics that will allow us to understand our own individual genetic profiles and be able to find a relevant treatment for all of the symptoms we might feel but haven’t been able to yet quite find the right diagnosis for (or a diagnosis at all). I am personally excited to continue to find out more about how our genes have a play in what we feel and experience, and how we might be able to successfully find treatment for symptoms, disorders, and diseases that are keeping us from fully enjoying our everyday lives.
Probiotics are defined as living microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit to those taking them. Health benefits can be attributed to an ability to assist the natural microflora, either to re-establish itself following imbalance or to upregulate (meaning an increase in cellular response to a molecular stimulus due to increase in the number of receptors on the cell surface) vital metabolic functions of the bacteria.
Only a few select cultures have actually been proven to be beneficial and justifiably be called ‘Probiotics’ and include certain strains of Lactic Acid Bacteria (including Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria) which have conclusive health benefits when taken.
Gut microbiota play an important role in:
-Maintenance of appropriate gut pH
-Digestive function through enzyme activity
-Modulation of immune function
-Production of antimicrobial substances, thus defending against invaders and maintaining a balance of microflora
-Synthesis of certain vitamins
-Production of amino acids and recylcing of nitrogen
-Synthesis of short chain fatty acids
-Detoxification and transformation of many substances
There is also growing evidence that probiotic supplements may be helpful in some specific conditions, notably side effects of antibiotics, irritable bowel syndrome, general immune support, allergy and upper respiratory tract infection.
Given these potential benefits, there is interest in the use of probiotics specifically in athletes to help maintain overall general health, enhance immune function or reduce URTI incidence and symptom severity/duration.
To date, most studies of probiotic interventions in athletes have been relatively small scale, but there is growing evidence pointing to a benefit in a number of areas which will be of interest to athletes in terms of their ability to maintain and/or boosting immune function through well understood mechanisms of action.
Not enough magnesium can trigger headaches and fatigue, which makes the effects of stress worse. One cup of spinach will do a great job in replenishing your magnesium stores. If you’re not aspinach eater, try some cooked soybeans or a salmon filet, also high in magnesium. Green leafy vegetables are a rich source of magnesium.
If you want to take magnesium supplements as well, you can take up to 350mg/day without risk.
Here are just some of the supplements I received at the Phoenix Europa 2013 event. I plan to be reviewing some of them here under the “Product Review” section on the blog. So far I’m excited about any of the protein powder samples. 🙂 “ABOUTTIME” also had a nutrition bar sample that I gobbled up already, but it was one of the best bars I had ever had. It was more like a once-in-a-while dessert because it was so delicious (and admittedly a little high on the sugar), but wow it was delicious.