Sunday, May 5, 2013

300mg CoQ10 Boost Peak Power Increases in Young Elite Athletes. Plus: 140ml of Beet Root Juice, That's all it Takes to Minimize the Oxygen Demands During a Workout

Athletes from various sports train at the Olympic Camp, where the CoQ10 study was conducted.
As unfortunate as it may sound, the number of "next big things" in the area of performance enhancing (legal) substances - at least in large parts - a line-up of supplemental non-starters. Against that background it is all the more surprising that today' SuppVersity article features not one, but two already available supplements that could in fact make a valuable contribution to your workout regimen. And while we are going to take a brief look at the latest research on the ergogenic effects of beet root juice later, we will start out with a study the results of which did actually surprise me - in a positive sense, that is.

  • Reduced CoQ10 (ubiquinol) increases peak power in trained athletes (Alf. 2013) -- While previous studies on the efficiacy of CoQ10 demonstrated at best inconclusive and statistically, but mostly practically insignificant benefits, the latest study from the Olympiast├╝tzpunkt Rhein-Ruhr in Essen, Germany, reports a whopping +11% increase in peak power per kg body mass in the 53 males and 47 females young German athletes (average age 19.2 years, height 181 cm, weight 78 kg) who consumed 5x 60mg ubiquinol, the completely reduced form of CoQ10, which comes in three redox states, i.e. fully oxidized (ubiquinone), semiquinone (ubisemiquinone), and fully reduced (ubiquinol), on a daily basis day as a supplemental adjunct to their 6-week training regimen.
    Figure 1: Progress of absolute peak power in the placebo and 5x60mg ubiquinol group (Alf. 2013)
    While it is not possible to tell, whether it was the comparatively long study period (CoQ10 needs week to build up in the tissue; cf. Cooke 2008), the high dose of ubqiuinol (previous studies with 150mg did not yield comparable results, cf. Svensson. 1999) or a combination of both thats responsible for the ergogenic effects you see in figure 1 cannot be said for sure. What is however certain and actually pretty remarkable, if you take into account that these young athletes were all training regularly at the Olympic Training Camp Rhein-Ruhr in Essen and that many of them have been competing at the Olympic Games 2012 in London., is that the supplemented athletes did make 2.5% more out of  their 6 weeks at the camp.
    Addendum: In view of the fact, that Rick just asked about potential side effects on facebook and I assume that, smart as you are, you will immediately spot the 2009 study by Sumien et al. talking about detrimental effects on cognitive function, I want to point out that the human equivalent of 2.6mg/g chow the high dose group received would exceed an ubiquinol intake of >6g even for the lightweights of you. With 1/4 of the dosage not producing any long-term negative sides in the same rodent study, you are thus probably on the save side w/ 300mg/day. This hypothesis is by the way backed by a 2008 review by Hidaka who report a no-observed-adverse-effect level (NOAEL) of 1200 mg/kg/day derived from a 52-week chronic toxicity study in rats that would translate to 720 mg/day for a person weighing 60 kg (Hidaka. 2008)
    Moreover, the way in which the gap between the supplement and placebo group widens only in the last weeks of the intervention seem to support the previously mentioned "pre-loading hypothesisand raises the hope that the ergogenic effects will persist for more than just 6 weeks.

    CoQ10 did work in previous studies, but affected mostly serum markers not performance (learn more)
    The researchers also speculate that "older athletes and “weekend warriors” might profit even more from CoQ10 supplementation than young, well-trained athletes", as both age and the lack of training are associated with a lower mitochondrial density, of which Alf et al. suspect that it may be compensated for by the provision of CoQ10. In view of it's purported beneficial effects on ATP and creatinine phosphate synthesis, this may well be the case. I would yet still refrain from buying a year-long supply of the ubiquinol before respective evidence from independent trials is available. I mean, with the current price tag on ubiquinol, even an N=1 experiment with a 6-weeks supply of 300mg of ubiquinol per day would cost you ~$60 which is not exactly cheap, but could be worth a try - assuming you have the patients to wait for the results.

  • 280ml beet root concentrate have well-established ergogenic effects, more is not necessary (Wylie. 2013) -- Right from the Exeter University comes a new study on the ergogenic effects of beet root juice. While the main message of the paper is that beet root juice supplementation can effectively increase nitric oxide levels and physical performance, the real interesting part of the paper deals with the dose-response relationship.

    There are a couple of important confounding factors which will determine whether or not you or anyone else can benefit from nitrate supplementation. Sex is yet - as far as I know know - not one of them... ah, by the way, there may be other benefits to nitrates that are "sex-specific", but in this case the semantics are somewhat different (learn more in a previous post on beet root  juice here at the SuppVersity ;-)
    Lee J. Wylie and his colleagues found that the provision of 70, 140 or 280 ml of concentrated beet root juice (BR), with 4.2, 8.4 and 16.8 mmol NO3- on six separate occasions increased the plasma concentration of NO2- in a dose-dependent manner, with the peak changes occurring at ~2-3 h. Of the three dosing regimen,
    "[...] only the higher dosages (140ml and 280ml) reduced the steady-state VO2 during moderate-intensity exercise by 1.7% (P=0.06) and 3.0% (P<0.05), whilst time to task failure was extended by 14% and 12% (both P<0.05), respectively" (Wylie. 2013)
    As the scientists point out, these results indicate that "there is no additional improvement in exercise tolerance after ingesting BR containing 16.8 compared to 8.4 mmol NO3-".

    The dreaded carb overload that may have popped in your head, whenever you heard about using a natural NO3- supplement should not keep you from taking advantage of nature's very own "nitric oxide supplement" ;-)

Bottom line: In view of the fact that ubiquinol and beet root juice act via totally different pathways, a direct comparison of the two obviously doesn't make sense. A combination of both on the other hand would. I would not expect any synergistic affects, but it is relatively save to assume that the effects will add up.One thing you should keep in mind, thoug,h is that only the beets will have acute effects and provide the instant gratification everybody seems to be striving for, these days. The effects of coqu10 n the other hand will manifest only weeks after you started taking it, so that you will - for want of an independent control you will thus simply have to beleive that its working ... after all, you don't know how much progress you wouls make without it.
  • Alf D, Schmidt ME, Siebrecht SC. Ubiquinol supplementation enhances peak power production in trained athletes: a double-blind, placebo controlled study. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013 Apr 29;10(1):24. 
  • Cooke M, Iosia M, Buford T, Shelmadine B, Hudson G, Kerksick C, Rasmussen C, Greenwood M, Leutholtz B, Willoughby D, Kreider R: Effects of acute and 14-day coenzyme Q10 supplementation on exercise performance in both trained anduntrained individuals. J Int Soc Sports Nutr2008, 5:8.  
  • Hidaka T, Fujii K, Funahashi I, Fukutomi N, Hosoe K. Safety assessment of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). Biofactors. 2008;32(1-4):199-208.
  • Sumien N, Heinrich KR, Shetty RA, Sohal RS, Forster MJ. Prolonged intake of coenzyme Q10 impairs cognitive functions in mice. J Nutr. 2009 Oct;139(10):1926-32. doi: 10.3945/jn.109.110437.
  • Svensson M, Malm C, Tonkonogi M, Ekblom B, Sjodin B, Sahlin K: Effect of Q10 supplementation on tissue Q10 levels and adenine nucleotide catabolism during high-intensity exercise. Int J Sport Nutr1999, 9:166–180. 
  • Wylie LJ, Kelly J, Bailey SJ, Blackwell JR, Skiba PF, Winyard PG, Jeukendrup AE, Vanhatalo A, Jones AM. Beetroot juice and exercise: pharmacodynamic and dose-response relationships. J Appl Physiol. 2013 May 2.