Scientists have observed how smoking reduces blood levels of coenzyme Q10, a substance which cells need in order to produce energy. Women appear to be more susceptible than men.
Smoking is not only harmful to your lungs and cardiovascular health. The foul-smelling habit has also been shown to have a harmful impact on the body’s energy metabolism, something which is reflected by the observation of reduced blood levels of coenzyme Q10 in smokers, compared with non-smokers. In a recent study of 106 healthy men and women aged 21-45 years, half of whom were smokers, researchers could clearly see how smoking lowered coenzyme Q10 levels of the participants.
The male smokers had 50% lower Q10 levels than male non-smokers, while female smokers had their Q10 levels reduced by 67% compared with female non-smokers. Such substantial reductions of Q10, a substance which cells needs in order to make energy, are normally only seen in people with chronic disease.
A powerful antioxidant
Q10 is not just vital for cellular energy metabolism, it is also a highly effective antioxidant that supports the body’s defence against oxidation of lipids such as triglyceride and cholesterol. The higher the content of these blood lipids, the greater the need for Q10.
In addition to the demonstrated drop in Q10, the above mentioned study revealed unfavorable changes of the blood lipid profile, with an increase in triglycerides and a drop in HDL (also known as “good” cholesterol). In male smokers, HDL levels went down by 19%, and a 35% reduction was detected among female smokers. Triglyceride levels in male smokers increased by 27%, whereas they went up by 20% in female smokers.
Al–Bazi MM et al. Reduced coenzyme Q10 in female smokers and its association with lipid profile in a young healthy adult population. Arch Med Sci 2011;7,6:948-54.