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Optimal balance for peak performance in sports

Indian fitness industry

A diet supplement with Ubiquinol, the active form of Coenzyme Q10, can significantly enhance the physical performance capacity. This cell vitamin influences the oxidative status and the mitochondria function.

Athletic activity is the best prerequisite to maintaining good health and fitness. Regular work-out supports the muscles, the metabolism and body’s anti-oxidant defence. But, on closer examination it is found to be in a delicate equilibrium: on one hand, an intensive sports activity is linked with a high performance capacity. On the other hand, it also leads to an increased production of reactive oxygen compounds that results in damage of our cells.

In April 2014, ‘Bridge2Food’, a conference in Kiel, dealt with the trends and development of sports diets in the European market. The key focus was on particular anti-oxidants. Within the scope of his talk ‘Oxidative damage during sports activities’, Professor Luca Tiano of the Marche University in Ancona, Italy, presented the findings of his latest study.

It gives an account of the effects of a diet supplement with Ubiquinol on the activity of the anti-oxidants and on the mitochondria function. It is scientifically proved that Ubiquinol, the active form of Coenzyme Q10, boosts the energy supply in the body. This vitamin-like micronutrient is an essential part of the respiratory chain.

Ubiquinol contributes to the production of about 95% of the energy required by our metabolic processes. Organs such as the heart, as well as the muscles, need a lot of energy and are therefore dependent on huge amount of Ubiquinol. The lack of this vital nutrient makes us less performance efficient.

German experiment

A recent investigation of the Olympia Support Centre in Rhein-Ruhr (Germany) is of special significance. In the study, 100 young trained athletes were daily given a dose of either 300 mg of Ubiquinol or a placebo over 6 weeks. For use in food supplements, Ubiquinol is more suitable than a coenzyme Q10, since the body does not have to first convert it into the active form. Therefore, Ubiquinol can also act more quickly and is readily used by the body.

For verification of the maximum output, each participant underwent a training session on the ergo meter, before going on the diet supplement and after the 6 weeks period. During the study, these athletes were individually trained as a preparation for the 2012 London Olympics.

In both the groups the physical performance capacity was found to be increased over the period of treatment: by 8.5% (0.30 Watt per kg of body weight) in the placebo group and by 11% (0.38 W/kg) in the Ubiquinol group. The difference of +0.08 W/kg in the level of enhancement of the performance capacity between the two groups was significant (p<0.03). This result suggests that a diet supplement with Ubiquinol significantly enhances athletic peak performance.

Fat-soluble anti-oxidant

Besides being an energy provider, Ubiquinol is also the only produced-in-the body fat-soluble anti-oxidant. LDL-cholesterol enriched with Ubiquinol is more resistant to oxidative degradation and may prevent vascular plaques. Ubiquinol is also responsible for elasticity and flexibility of cell membranes and protects it from damage caused by free radicals.

Protection inside the inner membrane of the mitochondria is particularly important because, during the energy production, a large quantity of reactive oxygen compounds may occur (during intensive work-out). Moreover, Ubiquinol has an impact on the muscle fibre types and can quickly convert the slow contracting “slow-twitch fibres” into fast contracting “fast-twitch fibres”.

An example is: sprinters, whose performance is normally dependent on their genetically determined muscle composition, can influence their muscle fibre profile through a diet supplement with Ubiquinol.

A young and healthy person having a balanced diet can principally produce enough Ubiquinol by himself. Additionally, smaller amounts can be taken up through a balanced Mediterranean diet. However, as age advances (from just 20 years onwards), the body’s ability to produce Ubiquinol tends to decline.

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Decline in Ubiquinol level with advancing age.

Many age-related diseases, such as heart problems and diabetes, are associated with low Ubiquinol levels. For older people, a cell vitamin supplement is therefore generally recommended. A continuous supply of energy depends largely on the stock of Ubiquinol in the body.

So what should the athletes keep in mind? Scientific studies have shown that extreme endurance sport can lower the concentration of coenzyme Q10 in the blood plasma level. Their requirement of high levels of energy, strenuous training and the sinking levels of

Ubiquinol with the advancing age indicate that athletes always tend to be deficient in this vital micronutrient.

At the same time, sports activities boost the oxygen absorption and in turn also the formation of free radicals. This oxidative stress can lead to muscle fatigue and muscle injury.

Oxidative stress

To deliver maximum performance, the athletes have to balance out their mitochondria function. In the process, super-compensation is a very important principle of training for top-ranking athletes. To raise the initial fitness level, work-out is followed by a relaxation phase which then initiates the super-compensation.

This way, the exhausted energy reserves are not only refilled but brought back up to the original level. This effect is referred to as “stockpiling” by the body.

Nevertheless, athletes should avoid overtraining, for too high intensity of the training or inadequate regeneration gap can be detrimental: it leads to over-acidification, and the reactive oxygen compounds and inflammatory cytokines proliferate.

Mitochondria control these processes centrally. Considering the mitochondrial function, the supplementation with Ubiquinol sets the focus on whether or not this micronutrient prevents oxidative damage to mitochondria and how does Ubiquinol influence the oxidative status of the cells?

For this purpose Professor Tiano carried out a study with 21 rugby players in the age-group of 21 to 31 years, who were randomly given a daily dose of either 200 mg of Ubiquinol or a placebo. In this manner the effects of the diet supplement with Ubiquinol on one single training session could be studied. The rugby players had to work out on a treadmill with 40% of the maximum heart rate.

After the month-long supplementation phase followed a two-month long “wash-out” phase. The usage of placebo or Ubiquinol was then swapped among the athletes based on cross-over principle. Every time, before and after the sports activity on the treadmill, the blood plasma samples were checked. These were bio-chemically analysed and examined for lipid profile, amount of anti-oxidants and for symptoms of muscular stress.

The placebo group showed a decline in Coenzyme Q10 level in the total plasma, a weaker anti-oxidative resistance, more reactive oxygen compounds in the cells and a decoupling of compensatory mechanisms in the mitochondrion membrane. Contrary to this, in the Ubiquinol-Group, the Coenzyme Q10 level in the whole plasma sank down less significantly.

In addition, less reactive oxygen compounds in the cells were seen in the samples taken during exercise phase and also in the recovery phase. Slightly accelerated regeneration of mitochondrial function was also noted.
These results conform to an earlier study which was carried out using Coenzyme Q10. It too showed that, a dietary supplement taken before the strenuous work-out reduces the oxidative stress and regulates the inflammatory processes. Additionally, based on the study, scientists ascertained that, less muscle injury occurred in the sportsmen.

Not doping

To sum up we can say that Ubiquinol offers numerous benefits to sportsmen. Its regular intake helps in faster regeneration and contributes to performance enhancement. Moreover, the use of Ubiquinol is substantiated after many scientific studies.

Ubiquinol, without any qualms, can be used as a dietary supplement in numerous sports preparations. According to the test report of the German School of Sports, Cologne, it is not considered as doping. With this, Ubiquinol is counted in the “Cologne List” of the doping-free substances.

Typical forms of administration are soft gel capsules, pellets and sticks. Even functional sports foods can be enriched with the fat-soluble nutrient; either solely or as a part of a multi-component system with minerals or other anti-oxidants like Vitamin C. Recommended dose for healthy athletes varies between 100 and 300 mg per day.

– Peter Lambrechts

fitness magazine online The writer studied in Belgium and the USA and has a master’s degree in bio-engineering as well as an MBA. He lives in Brussels where he is working as a Business Development Manager for Functional Food Ingredients. He specializes in licensing procedures for new health ingredients, which are used as food supplements or ingredients of functional foods, as well as the ones for the use in the medical market.



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