Food and Behaviour Research

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06 March 2015 - MedicalXpress - Popular antioxidant likely ineffective, study finds

The popular dietary supplement ubiquinone, also known as Coenzyme Q10, is widely believed to function as an antioxidant, protecting cells against damage from free radicals. But a new study by scientists at McGill University finds that ubiquinone is not a crucial antioxidant and that consuming it is unlikely to provide any benefit.

The findings, by a team led by Professor Siegfried Hekimi in McGill's Department of Biology, are published today (March 6) in Nature Communications.

Ubiquinone is a lipid-like substance found naturally in all cells of the body. Cells need it to produce energy from nutrients and oxygen – a function performed by tiny structures, known as mitochondria, within cells. Because it was also thought to function as an antioxidant, ubiquinone has been recommended for a variety of ills and as an anti-aging supplement; global sales of the substance are estimated to amount to hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

"Our findings show that one of the major anti-aging antioxidant supplements used by people can't possibly act as previously believed," Hekimi says. "Dietary supplements cost a lot of money to patients throughout the world – money that would be better spent on healthy food. What's more, the hope for a quick fix makes people less motivated to undertake appropriate lifestyle changes."