Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, or ubiquinone was poised at the beginning of the decade to be the miracle ant-ager that we've all been waiting for. But then things went a bit quiet and the number of products containing it actually declined year-on-year between 2002 and 2005. Turns out there was a worldwide shortage after a big run on the stuff in America once it was linked to helping sufferers of Parkinson's disease. Anyway CoQ10 is back in abundance and cropping up in more and more cosmetic products, which is good thing since it seems that it might actually work.

CoQ10 is produced by the human body and is necessary for the basic functioning of cells. CoQ10 levels are reported to decrease with age and to be low in patients with some chronic diseases such as heart conditions, muscular dystrophy, Parkinson's, cancer, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS.

There is some convincing evidence that CoQ10 supplements can help early stage Parkinson's patients. The same is true of its ability to increase sperm count. Proof that it can improve physical performance in sports or bodybuildng is, apparently, spotty and more data is required. The antioxidant or free radical zapping properties of CoQ10 do seem to be well documented and it can reduce oxidative damage to tissues as well as significantly inhibit the oxidation of LDL cholesterol much more efficiently than vitamin E.

Can it be applied topically and have any effect? It seems it can. CoQ10 is a small molecule that can relatively easily penetrate skin cells. A 1999 study by German researchers reported that long-term use of CoQ10 reduced crows feet. Idebenone is a version of CoQ10 that has a particularly low molecular weight and has performed well against cell damage from oxidative stress in a variety of trials. In one, 41 women, aged 30–65, with moderate photodamaged skin used either 0.5% or 1.0% solution of idebenone. After six weeks’ use of the 1.0% idebenone formula, a 26% reduction in skin roughness/dryness was observed, a 37% increase in skin hydration, a 29% reduction in fine lines/wrinkles, and a 33% improvement in overall global assessment of photodamaged skin. For the 0.5% idebenone formulation, a 23% reduction in skin roughness/dryness was observed, a 37% increase in skin hydration, a 27% reduction in fine lines/wrinkles (Published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology).

CoQ10 is in the moisturizer from Skin Image that I have just started using, which you can read about by clicking here.