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Have you ever had an elderly relative who seemed to go from strong, healthy and capable to weak, tired and fragile overnight?
What you witnessed was the onset of frailty.
While not exactly defined as a disease, frailty is a common group of conditions that can come with aging. Once we pass the age of 65, our risk of frailty increases.
People who become frail typically begin to lose weight unintentionally, walk slowly, have low energy levels and weakened grip strength and become prone to falling. They also have a higher risk of dementia and early death.
While fragility may seem to be as inevitable as growing old, there are some factors that can increase your likelihood of developing it.
For instance, loss of lean muscle mass can weaken bones and lead to fragility. Low levels of vitamin D can cause this loss of muscle as well as physical declines like reduced grip strength and grip endurance.
There’s another nutrient that could play an important role in age-related fragility…
Loss of CoQ10 could raise fragility risk
The Q10 coenzyme (CoQ10) is essential for charging the cellular mitochondria that serve as the body’s batteries. CoQ10 is responsible for electron transport within these mitochondria, which helps them function properly.
Unfortunately, we start to lose this vital coenzyme as we age. This decline in CoQ10 levels generates an energy insufficiency that leads to mitochondrial conditions, cardiovascular problems, strokes and neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
Research has also associated low levels of CoQ10 with sarcopenia, the degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass that can create fragility in older people, especially women. The impact CoQ10 deficit has on the brain and heart also can lead to fragility.
A study shows older people with more symptoms or markers of fragility have less CoQ10 in their blood. Researchers say these levels could be used as a reference for judging how vulnerable people are to fragility and establishing therapies to combat it.
Study author Guillermo López Lluch, a researcher at the Andalusian Centre of Developmental Biology (CABD), a reduced presence of CoQ10 creates a spiral of decline that needs to be reversed.
“Levels of Q10 fall with lower levels of physical activity, and the lower these levels, the lower the capacity to exercise,” López Lluch says. “It’s a vicious circle and a dramatic one, because functionality is lost as well as the ability to get it back.”
How to lift levels of CoQ10
There are several complementary strategies that can help reverse CoQ10 decline. The first step is to systematically increase your physical activity. You can take it slow, but make sure you’re doing some sort of exercise regularly and that you gradually increase that activity level.
Next, you can try to correct CoQ10 deficit via diet. This can be done by adopting a Mediterranean-style diet and focusing on the consumption of nuts and varied vegetables with vegetable oils, López Lluch says. Previous research at University College London found that following a Mediterranean diet can help fend off frailty.
You can also take CoQ10 supplements. Make sure you get a supplement that contains healthy fats to help you properly absorb the CoQ10 and that you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations as to dosage.
If you take anti-inflammatories regularly, such as ibuprofen, consult your doctor before taking CoQ10 supplements. And always follow the manufacturer’s serving recommendations. Just because a nutrient is good for you, taking more than is recommended is not necessarily better.
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