Image Credit: Robert Owen-Wahl / Pixabay. This image has been modified.

How to Make Your Own CoQ10

Chlorophyll is the green pigment that makes green leaves green. If you search for chlorophyll in the medical literature, a lot of what you find is about fecal fluorescence, a way to detect the contamination of carcasses in the slaughterhouse with feces to reduce the risk of food poisoning from pathogens harbored within animal feces. Fecal matter gets on meat either “with knife entry through the hide into the carcass, and also splash back and aerosol [airborne] deposition of fecal matter during hide removal”—that is, when they’re peeling off the skin. If, however, the animals have been eating grass, you can pick up the poo with a black light. As you can see in my video How to Regenerate Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) Naturally, a solution of chlorophyll is green, but, under a UV light, it lights up as red. So, if you have a black light in a chicken slaughter plant, you can get a drop on the droppings. The problem is most chickens aren’t outside anymore. They’re no longer pecking at grass so there’s less fecal fluorescence. We could let them run around outside or we could save money by just adding a chlorophyll supplement to their feed so we can better “identify areas of gut-spill contamination” on the meat.

The reason I was looking up chlorophyll was to follow-up on the data I presented in my Eating Green to Prevent Cancer video, which suggests that chlorophyll may be able to block carcinogens. I found a few in vitro studies on the potential anti-inflammatory effects of chlorophyll. After all, green leaves have long been used to treat inflammation, so anti-inflammatory properties of chlorophyll and their break-down products after digestion were put to the test. And, indeed, they may represent “valuable and abundantly available anti-inflammatory agents.” Maybe that’s one reason why cruciferous vegetables, like kale and collard greens, are associated with decreased markers of inflammation.

In a petri dish, for example, if you lay down a layer of arterial lining cells, more inflammatory immune cells stick to them after you stimulate them with a toxic substance. We can bring down that inflammation with the anti-inflammatory drug aspirin or, even more so, by just dripping on some chlorophyll. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons kale consumers appear to live longer lives.

As interesting as I found that study to be, this next study blew my mind. The most abundant energy source on this planet is sunlight. However, only plants are able to use it directly—or so we thought. After eating plants, animals have chlorophyll in them, too, so might we also be able to derive energy directly from sunlight? Well, first of all, light can’t get through our skin, right? Wrong. This was demonstrated by century-old science—and every kid who’s ever shined a flashlight through her or his fingers, showing that the red wavelengths do get through. In fact, if you step outside on a sunny day, there’s enough light penetrating your skull and going through to your brain that you could read a book in there. Okay, so our internal organs are bathed in sunlight, and when we eat green leafy vegetables, the absorbed chlorophyll in our body does actually appear to produce cellular energy. But, unless we eat so many greens we turn green ourselves, the energy produced is probably negligible.

However, light-activated chlorophyll inside our body may help regenerate Coenzyme Q10. CoQ10 is an antioxidant our body basically makes from scratch using the same enzyme we use to make cholesterol—that is, the same enzyme that’s blocked by cholesterol-lowering statin drugs. So, if CoQ10 production gets caught in the crossfire, then maybe that explains why statins increase our risk of diabetes—namely, by accidently also reducing CoQ10 levels in a friendly-fire type of event. Maybe that’s why statins can lead to muscle breakdown. Given that, should statin users take CoQ10 supplements? No, they should sufficiently improve their diets to stop taking drugs that muck with their biochemistry! By doing so—by eating more plant-based chlorophyll-rich diets—you may best maintain your levels of active CoQ10, also known as ubiquinol. “However, when ubiquinol is used as an antioxidant, it is oxidized to ubiquinone. To act as an effective antioxidant, the body must regenerate ubiquinol from ubiquinone,” perhaps by using dietary chlorophyll metabolites and light.

Researchers exposed some ubiquinone and chlorophyll metabolites to the kind of light that makes it into our bloodstream. Poof! CoQ10 was reborn. But, without the chlorophyll or the light, nothing happened. By going outside we get light and, if we’re eating our veggies, chlorophyll, so maybe that’s how we maintain such high levels of CoQ10 in our bloodstream. Perhaps this explains why dark green leafy vegetables are so good for us. We know sun exposure can be good for us and that eating greens can be good for us. “These benefits are commonly attributed to an increase in vitamin D from sunlight exposure and consumption of antioxidants from green vegetables”—but is it possible that these explanations might be incomplete?


This blog post has it all: a mind-blowing mechanism, practical applicability, and poop. What more could you want?

Interested in learning more about the potential downsides of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs? I’ve produced other videos on the topic, including Statin Cholesterol Drugs and Invasive Breast Cancer and The Actual Benefit of Diet vs. Drugs.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations:

Discuss

Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.


80 responses to “How to Make Your Own CoQ10

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  1. “Fecal matter gets on meat either “with knife entry through the hide into the carcass, and also splash back and aerosol [airborne] deposition of fecal matter during hide removal”
    – – – – – – – – –

    Take THAT, nothing-but-raw-meat eaters! (You know who you are.)

    1. “…and not completely rely on vitamin D supplements, which I think is by far the worst advice Dr. Greger has ever given on this site.”

      Link your video supporting your claim.

      Also, most people, repeat – MOST people, have vitamin D issues so unless you live in the band of area on the Earth between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn you are likely not going to get enough sun. Many people also have jobs which could have them inside and away from the sun from dawn to dusk when they are in the Fall-Winter-Spring part of the year. The more south or north you go the more likely you are to have this problem.

      Then consider large cities in which some people work and live. Likely they are almost always shaded and not getting direct sun light.

      Dr Greger is a very clear communicator so I wager that if you actually have a video or article link that supports your comment that you most certainly missed a lead in comment or some sort of foundational context and only saw what you wanted to see.

      1. > Link your video supporting your claim.

        Gladly.

        From https://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-risks-and-benefits-of-sensible-sun-exposure/

        “There’s little evidence that minimal, sensible exposure to sunlight will considerably increase the risk of skin cancer—though why accept any risk when you can just get your vitamin D from supplements?”

        “But again, why accept any risk at all when you can get all the vitamin D you need from supplements?”

        Yes, Dr. Greger is a very clear communicator. Please tell me what I’ve misinterpreted here.

        1. The sun is our friend, not our enemy to be feared. We just have to know how to use it wisely. “Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noon-day sun,” and all that.

          I’ve never used any sort of lotion to block the rays from my skin. I do wear sunglasses and hats/caps with brims, however. Like anything else in life, just don’t go overboard…use “moderation.” BTW, even at my no-longer-teenybopper age, I still get compliments about my complexion. :-)

          https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-5999/10-Healing-Benefits-of-the-Sun.html

          1. I live in New York State. Had a blood test this past June, which showed my Vit. D level to be 42.0. The “sufficiency” is said to be between 30-100 ng/ml.

            I take one multivitamin a day, no other supplements. If we can believe what’s in those things, am getting 800 IU (in addition to foods).

            1. In my world 42 ng/mL [US] is very deficient. Up your daily dose for sure.
              And D from food? Forget all of those articles that talk about that. You will not raise you D levels getting it from food. Just won’t happen. Sorry.

              1. Thanks for your concern. :-P

                Am wondering where in the US you live (your “world”), and the results of your last blood test, Vit D-wise. “Toxic” levels of Vit. D (where I go for the blood work) is said to be above 100 ng/ml. Deficiency is below 20 ng/ml.

                (P.S. You don’t really know what foods I eat, now do you!)

                1. LOL….I may not know what kind of foods you eat, but I do know math. If you eat a food that is considered to contain the highest amount D3 it would take a truck load per day to get a therapeutic dose. My D level? Usually 90-110 ng/mL [US]. Taking about 15,000 IUs daily, not suggesting anyone else take that does without understanding how this is done.

                  Desert southwest, and yes. Everybody here is D deficient as well.

                  P.S. You stand a better chance of suffering from water toxicity than you do D toxicity.

              2. >>>In my world 42 ng/mL [US] is very deficient. up your daily dose for sure.

                In my world, that’s quite a controversial statement, to say the least. So what’s your scientific backing for you claim?

            2. Conventional wisdom says 2000 IU. Some say it should be much higher because of a miscalculation by some authority. That’s in some Dr G video.

              I wouldn’t go below 2000 in NY. Your UVB exposure in winter is negligible.

                1. YES! TEST!!!!!! I need 8000 i.u./day to stay at 45 ng/ml. Some only need 800 or 1000. There is no way to know what your level is or how much you need to supplement unless you test.

                2. Why is that? On 2000 IU per day my level is 47 (as of Sept). If I took 5000 IU, no doubt it would go quite a bit higher, and there’s no reason I am aware of to think that would be healthier.

                  1. Gengo,

                    Your numbers are pretty good.

                    I wouldn’t be worried if I had that number.

                    Over 50 from supplements becomes where you worry about toxicity. Too low, you worry about everything else.

                    1. Deb,
                      The issue for me is not one of toxicity (which as Geoffrey points out takes a much higher blood serum level) but the fact that there is evidence of possible (non-toxicity related) harms over the long term when blood serum levels go above around 50 ng/ml, in a roughly dose dependent fashion, as I recall. Since there is no evidence that there is any additional benefit to levels above the mid-40s, and above 30 ng/ml seems quite sufficient, I think the wisest course is to stay, on average, between 30 – 50 ng/ml (75 – 125 nmol/l; multiply by 2.5 to get nmol/l), including sunlight exposure (which I get plenty of in the warmer seasons). This is especially true since not all authorities agree on these bounds.

                  2. Yes that is an appropriate dose for you. Not for everyone though. Bodies respond differently to inputs and need different doses. Testing blood level is the only way to know what results you are getting from given dose.

                    1. Yes, I agree. And I agree it is worth doing some testing, if one can afford it. I also believed people should get sensible sun exposure and not rely just on supplementation.

              1. As I said to Ray, you don’t know what foods I eat. I don’t claim to be vegan, let’s just say. At any rate, I’m not going to toss and turn all night because of THIS!

                There’ll always be SOMEthing to worry about, if we look for it.

              2. Jack,

                Yes, some people say 2000, some say it needs to be higher because of a miscalculation, some say that it needs to be lower and that once you get to a certain point supplement D becomes toxic.

                It is just like milk and soy and keto versus WFPB and every other topic. Science wars!

                1. No, the dosage needed varies with the person. It could be 1000. I could be less. It could be a lot more. It only gets toxic when there is far too much in the blood stream. D2 much more toxic than D3. Doctors routinely give 50,000 i.u. at a time to bring up blood level when people are very deficient though that is pretty stupid way to do it since you will still have no idea how much they will need ongoing once good range is attained.
                  Far better to ballpark appropriate dosage i.e. figure about 10 ng/ml blood change for every 1000 i.u. in supplement (up or down)

                  1. I have friends whose doctors do those high numbers. There used to be a better logic for it, but the fact there can be toxicity makes the logic weaker.

          2. I’m same as you. Or was. Now at age 69 I have a whole slew of scars and a few scabs and ulcers on my scalp from skin cancers, thankfully all basal cell (so far)

            1. Yes, my elderly relatives said, “Stay out of the sun.”

              Once you start getting Cancer it becomes you never want to go out in the sun again.

              These Doctor and Science wars are tiring!

              I would much, much, much rather see round tables with longer discussions than debates and mocking each other and the audiences do the same hitting below the belt process.

        2. Each doctor has readjusted their views on D and on how much sunlight is safe back and forth with the science.

          Dr Greger having a historical record of all of his positions can be a detriment, but I lnow that all of the doctors have that double mindedness.

          Dr Popper thinks it is a scam but if you scroll down she is givingan example of when she would have people take them and that follows her saying they don’t work the same as sunlight and could’ve toxic at blood levels of 50, but ten seconds later she would give them.

          1. Dr Popper believes if you get some sunlight at all even if your D is low, there will be a health boost. She believes the labs and doctors all listened to the same greedy guy who made everybody Rich by changing the standard of what deficiency is.

            Dr Fuhrman believes that the science was confounded by the wrong D2 and ridiculous doses.

            T. Colin Campbell thinks that the sun exposure and Cancer theory doesn’t add up because people stopped working out in the sun and stopped sunbathing and wear sunscreen and coverups and have central air and kids are inside playing on the computer because everybody became afraid of kidnapping so there is no where near the sun exposure people used to get but skin Cancer rates went up not down.

            1. Her logic is that it is okay to be deficient and I am not sure she has built that case well enough. She didn’t do “D2 is toxic, so use D3” She did “D in the bloodstream at 50 can already be toxic” It is hard to reconcile the logic from everybody, but I don’t feel like she built the case for its better to be deficient than to take a supplement and she basically said that it is enough to be out in the sun a little and be deficient than take D3.

              I say that because people who live in the Northeast die of cancer much more often than people who live in the South and 75% of women with breast cancer are Vitamin D deficient and people who work the night shift, who don’t get the same daylight exposure have higher all-cause mortality, too.

              Up until my dog got sick, I was walking him twice a day before work and at night and I missed the sun by 100% on both sides. I probably spend zero time in the sunlight most years.

              I didn’t supplement Vitamin D at all for decades and I am not sure if zero sun plus no Vitamin D supplements contributed to my thyroid problems and brain problems or not. I am not sure if supplementing it has helped those problems or not.

              I just don’t feel secure with the “It’s better to be deficient than to supplement” answer.

              1. I live in the Northeast, had a mother who died of Breast Cancer, work the night shift half the time, almost never get sunshine, because I can’t abide the heat anymore and work during daylight hours and I have had tumors and eczema on one nipple and don’t get sun even when I am outside with my dog now. I have a house with a patio, but it gets 100% shade.

                Dr. Popper said if I even get a little time in the sun that would be enough, but I am not so sure.

        3. Steve

          That statement is posed as a question not a recommendation.

          Where he makes clear, unambiguous recommendations, he says use either sunlight or supplements:to get vitamin D
          https://nutritionfacts.org/2011/09/12/dr-gregers-2011-optimum-nutrition-recommendations/

          He discusses the best way to get vitamin D in another video. It seems pretty balanced to me. The clear conclusion I inferred was that supplements are preferable to tanning saloons. However, the question of sunshine versus supplements didn’t seem to have a clear answer.
          https://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-best-way-to-get-vitamin-d-sun-supplements-or-salons/

        1. She does say that. Of course she did not have the flu almost every year and in the 18 years since getting blood level to mid normal range never had it once. That’s my story….

        2. Blair,

          The part of it that is a scam to her is everybody needing it.

          In the comment section below that video, she discusses an example of a case where people would need Vitamin D supplementation, so she isn’t against supplementing altogether.

            1. With Dr Popper the part I don’t understand is that she is going to say that it doesn’t work, then turn around and have people take it.

              If it doesn’t work at all then spare me the symbolism.

  2. Hi Steve McClellan, I found the article listing Dr Greger’s Optimum Nutrition Recommendations, and I post it here for your convenience :

    https://nutritionfacts.org/2011/09/12/dr-gregers-2011-optimum-nutrition-recommendations/

    As you can see on that page, Dr Greger goes into some detail on taking available sun at various latitudes, and when and how to supplement with Vitamin D if necessary. I hope this clarifies the issue for you.

    One thing I take exception to is insinuating that those who have elevated cholesterol must be at fault for not ‘sufficiently improving their diet to get off statins. I am sure that those like myself who have to take statins for secondary prevention are not happy about it. I find it irritating that it is assumed we are doing something wrong diet-wise, when in fact wfpb is not the end all be all for everyone.. ie cholesterol levels can remain high in spite of deligent, if not austere, adherance to wfpb eating.

  3. +1 for WFPB not automatically leading to Nirvana. I’m incalculably healthier for being WFPB, but I still, e.g., have “high normal” cholesterol (though low enough to keep my doctor from giving in to pharma pressure to reccomend statins as a “precautionary” measure) and occasionally have nasty cases of gout.

  4. I wonder how much sunlight exposure is required. For months on end, when I walk outside, the only skin I have exposed is on my face, and often throughout the year we’re under cloud cover.

  5. I wonder if it was the UV light in sunlight that made a difference or another part of sunlight,does anybody know what was used in the study? “the kind of of light that makes it into our bloodstream” isn’t very specific-

    1. Maybe? Maybe is not enough for me to give up my Ubiquinol supplements. As a 15 year T2DMer, with idiopathic heart failure and a CRT-D pacemaker + Ubiquinol that took me from an ejection fraction of 27% to 63%, there is no way I would jeopardize that for a “maybe”, esp. living up in Canada. There is an inverse correlation between CoQ10 levels and the NY heart Failure Classifications (higher is worse). I know correlation does not equal causation but I think that is less of a leap of faith than Dr. G’s advice in this case.

      1. I don’t think that any of Dr G’s recommendations should be considered ironclad rules applicable to each and every person no matter what their health status or medical condition.

        Neither are World Health Organization or national dietary, or physical activity, guidelines for that matter

    2. Dr Greger said it was the red light that got through, so I guess Infrared. UV being ultra violet probably rules that out as being the one making it into the bloodstream.

      1. Just a follow up on light, I read that blue light on skin was able to stop flesh eating bacteria. It was something discovered in Brazil I think.

        I read it one time but never heard anything like that again, so take that with a grain of salt until it (hopefully) pops up as peer reviewed and confirmed.

  6. I avoid a large batch of problems by being vegan, and getting my food at local-grown places…. it’s not the ultimate answer to everything, but it’s helped me avoid bodily problems most of the 60 years of my life. We all get to live with the choices we make.

  7. This blog subject and information is great news for me.

    While I’m not a big ‘greens’ eater, I do supplement my daily 6+ cups of tea of different varieties including herbs, with liquid chlorophyll. That plus doing the same with liquid cilantro+chlorella as well as a dusting of chlorella powder on some foods, which are also green, maybe has me making CoQ10 in vivo.

    Still, not gonna quit taking it as a supplement, and today I ordered 7 bottles of PQQ to go along with the CoQ10… low strengths of both.

  8. I just wanted to underline Dr. Gregers language…..he mentions “perhaps” this is why greens are good anti-oxidants, as maybe the chlorophyll reacts with sunlight and ubiquinone to make ubiquinol.
    And indeed the research is just a theory really “Here, we show that metabolites of chlorophyll can be found in blood plasma of animals that are given a chlorophyll-rich diet. We also show that these metabolites catalyze the reduction of plasma ubiquinone to ubiquinol in the presence of ambient light, in vitro. We propose that dietary chlorophyll or its metabolites, together with light exposure, regulate plasma redox status through maintaining the ubiquinol pool.

    So it is just a theory. Not established fact observed in living organisms, just in a test tube.

    1. So it is just a theory. Not established fact observed in living organisms, just in a test tube.
      ————————————————————————–
      Your statement is sound and true, but… I think Dr Greger, even though he is not a medical Dr. probably subscribes to the “do no harm” thinking of a medical Dr.

      And I for one do not see any harm in accepting the in vitro observation as a possible outcome in vivo, so I will proceed with my dosing of my tea with chlorophyl.

      Still, your pointing that out is in no way out of line.

  9. This just came out (note that I take both a D3 and an algal DHA/EPA supplement):

    ‘Neither high-dose vitamin D nor omega-3 fatty acid supplements reduce risks for cardiovascular (CV) events or cancer, according to findings presented over the weekend at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

    Nearly 26,000 men aged 50 or older and women aged 55 or older without histories of cancer or CV disease were randomized to receive daily vitamin D3 (2000 IU cholecalciferol) plus placebo, omega-3 fatty acids (1 g) plus placebo, both supplements, or double placebo. During a median follow-up of roughly 5 years, the two primary endpoints — invasive cancers and major CV events — did not differ significantly between vitamin D and placebo recipients. Similarly, omega-3 supplementation did not affect either endpoint.’
    https://www.jwatch.org/fw114764/2018/11/13/vitamin-d-omega-3s-fail-prevent-cardiovascular-disease?query=pfw&jwd=000020021378&jspc=

    1. Mr Fumblefingers, while study is interesting they measured supplement dosages and NOT blood levels so inconclusive at best. The two do not correlate with everyone and we don’t know what the results would be if they tested early on and got standardized blood levels instead of standardized doses. As a crude analogy, if we were eating dinner together, you might be completely satisfied with an amount I would consider an appetizer. Or vis versa.

      1. Oh sure. You might still have expected to see some benefit though if large numbers of people are supposed to be vitamin deficient..

        The key question is: is there any evidence that raisng vitamin D levels benefits health? After all, we had something similar with HDL cholesterol. That was thought to,be protective until HDL raising trials resulted in no mortality/morbidity benefits. The conclusion many people drew was that HDL functions more as a biomarker than a powerful causal factor in heart disease.. Perhaps blood vitamin D levels behave in the same way.

        1. Another issue for me is the “bell curve” which is what we are really talking about. Statistics. The reason an issue for me is that I am often an outlier! The bell curve results do apply to most people but for those out on the tail ends, not so much and they get ignored and even insulted by medical professionals when treatment protocols blow up and cause problems with no benefits

  10. I’m just wondering if sun screen negates the kind of light needed in this process and also how much sun exposure is necessary for this to process to occur? My apologies of this was covered and I somehow missed it.

  11. I tend to be skeptical about posts where the author bases his remarks on “a recent study” without listing or linking the study. Where is the science behind some of his conclusions or recommendations?

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