The heads-up on MitoQ, the clever little molecule with an all-access pass to your mitochondria.
Over the past four months, I have been taking 2 capsules of 5mg MitoQ every morning on an empty stomach. MitoQ is £60.83 for a bottle of 60 capsules and lasts just over a month per bottle. I found them easy to swallow and I had no noticeable side effects, however, there were noticeable effects. Find out more about MitoQ and my experience with it, as well as its effects on my chronic migraine, in this review.
MitoQ claims to “help power your body’s cells, so you can do more of what matters, for longer”.
The MitoQ story is a longer one than most, and began in 1990 at the University of Otago, New Zealand, when biochemist Robin Smith and mitochondrial specialist, Professor Mike Murphy, were studying mitochondria and trying to extrapolate why antioxidant supplements, such as CoQ10, were ineffective at curing certain diseases. They found that regular antioxidants, although successful at getting into the bloodstream, were unable to penetrate the mitochondria itself.
Thus, they created Mitoquinol Mesylate, a multi-patented cellular optimiser that can penetrate mitochondria and, in doing so, manage free radicals and oxidative damage providing additive benefits above and beyond normal antioxidant supplements. A consortium of NZ investors purchased the rights to Mitoquinol Mesylate in 1990, with Dr Ken Taylor managing commercialisation of the product.
MitoQ contains a 5mg dose per capsule of the patented ingredient Mitoquinol Mesylate. This special molecule was invented to solve the problem of antioxidants not being able to penetrate mitochondria, where free radical damage occurs. MitoQ is an engineered form of CoQ10 that has been shortened and given a positive charge, by linking it to Tetraphenylphosphonium cation (TPP), so it is small enough to penetrate the tough mitochondrial membrane and is pulled inside the mitochondria by its negative charge. Once inside, MitoQ balances CoQ10 levels and helps reduce free radical damage.
Scientific evidence for MitoQ?
MitoQ has been shown in 500+ independent, reviewed papers to offer benefits to oxidative stress, organ health and more. MitoQ has demonstrated encouraging preclinical results in numerous studies in isolated mitochondria, cells and tissues undergoing oxidative stress and apoptotic death. Over 500 positive peer-reviewed animal and in vitro studies covering a huge range of therapeutic areas have been published to date.
Some notable in vivo studies have shown that MitoQ is protective against the damage to endothelial cells from nitroglycerin exposure in rats, and pre-administration in mice protected them from cardiac damage when induced with sepsis.
MitoQ has been used in nine clinical trials to date. One promising trial showed that MitoQ improved arterial dilation in healthy adults by 42%, suggesting that MitoQ holds promise for treating age-related vascular dysfunction. Another suggested that MitoQ can reduce liver damage in hepatitis C viral infection.
MitoQ currently has 40 clinical trials either underway or in the planning stage in the fields including neurology, cardiovascular health, metabolics, rheumatology, immunology, oncology and sports science. The company encourages further research through the MitoQ Collaborative Research Programme.
MitoQ for migraine? My anecdotal evidence.
I have suffered from migraine, a neurological disorder, since I was 4 years old. The attacks would only last 24 hours and happened infrequently (on average once a month) until mid-2020, when my migraine pattern changed. Suddenly, my migraines would not go away after 24 hours.
I suffered from loss of sight, severe headaches and occasional vomiting for 3 months until I was finally diagnosed with chronic migraine. The worst part about chronic migraine is the lack of understanding as to how and why they happen. I had to monitor everything, looking out for any “triggers” that could put me out of the game for another three months.
I had read previously that CoQ10 could play a preventative role in migraine. Nerve and muscle tissue contain high levels of mitochondria and there is an association of migraine to energy metabolic impairment of the brain.
Several biochemical, morphological and magnetic spectroscopy studies have confirmed the presence of energy production deficiency coupled with an increment of energy consumption in migraine patients. An increment of energy demand over a certain threshold creates metabolic and biochemical preconditions for the onset of the migraine attack, although it is yet to be determined whether mitochondrial deficit is primary or secondary .
Supporting the hypothesis that improving brain energy may reduce the susceptibility to migraine, is evidence that CoQ10 can reduce migraine days/month and migraine duration . However, the efficacy evidence varies dependent on dose of CoQ10.
I was therefore incredibly excited to be able to try out MitoQ, as a ramped-up mitochondrial antioxidant. After a month of taking MitoQ, my migraine frequency had decreased back to two a month, and they were lasting 24 hours. You might ascribe this to a placebo effect, but dear reader, I ran out of MitoQ three weeks ago, and in the last two weeks I have had four migraine attacks… I have just purchased another bottle of MitoQ.
At £60 for a month’s supply it is an expensive treatment. But if MitoQ is the cause of a significant decrease in the frequency of my migraine attacks it is a small price to pay for the quality of life gained.
As another piece of anecdotal evidence for those without chronic migraine: I also gave a bottle to my friend to try after she mentioned she was always feeling tired. After a month she got back to me and said although she hadn’t noticed an increase in her energy whilst taking MitoQ, once she stopped taking it, she felt a “slump” and realised that her energy levels had returned to normal whilst taking it. She has also purchased another bottle.
Although I focused on my experience with MitoQ (this is a product review after all) I know most of our readers are mostly interested in how these longevity supplements can protect against aging. Aging can be defined as a gradual and stochastic accumulation of errors that can cause cellular and tissue malfunction, physiological decline and accrued risks of age-related diseases.
Mitochondria are metabolically active organelles that produce reactive oxygen species (ROS). It has been hypothesised that ROS-mediated damage to DNA accumulates over time and leads to associated aging phenotypes. One way that you could delay aging and extend lifespan is to reduce ROS-induced damage or improve DNA repair .
A systematic review to investigate the effects of MitoQ on oxidative outcomes related to the aging process produced a statistically significant reduction in nitrotyrosine concentration (a product of tyrosine nitration mediated by ROS) and increased membrane potential, suggesting that MitoQ may be of some benefit in alleviating oxidative stress related to aging .
Find out more about this clever supplement in our interview with MitoQ’s Chief Scientific Officer, Will Stow HERE.