Coenzyme Q10 and selenium in combination slow down the aging-related shortening of telomeres and thus contribute to longevity – to a longer and healthier lifespan. This is the important new message from a sub-study of the KiSel-10 Study data, published in a peer-reviewed scholarly journal in 2022 [Opstad 2022].
Preservation of Telomere Length with Coenzyme Q10 and Selenium Supplementation
Prof Urban Alehagen and the KiSel-10 research team investigated whether long-term supplementation with Coenzyme Q10 and selenium had had an effect on the aging-related shortening of telomeres. The researchers knew that the shortening of telomeres – telomeres are the caps on the ends of chromosomes – is associated with aging and with increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
For the purpose of their sub-study of telomere length in the elderly KiSel-10 Study participants, the researchers assumed that the shortening of leukocyte telomere length with increasing age is representative of the shortening of telomeres in other cells in the human body. Accordingly, they quantified leukocyte telomere length at baseline and after 42 months.
Their findings were interesting [Opstad 2022]:
- significantly less shortening of the leukocyte telomere length in the active treatment group compared with the placebo group
- significantly shorter leukocyte telomere length at 42 months for study participants who later died compared to survivors
- no confounding effects on leukocyte telomere length from such variables as age, diabetes, hypertension, ischemic heart disease, sex, etc.
- significantly less shortening of the leukocyte telomere length in both men and women on the active treatment – no significant difference between the sexes in the effect
Bottom Line: Long-term combined supplementation with Coenzyme Q10 and selenium is associated with a slowing down of the aging-related shortening of leukocyte telomeres as well as associated with reduced cardiovascular mortality [Opstad 2022].
Note: In his bestseller book Lifespan: Why We Age―and Why We Don’t Have To, Dr. David Sinclair explains that the aging-related shortening of telomeres, also known as “telomere attrition,” eventually leads to cells’ losing their ability to divide and to cell death [Sinclair & LaPlante 2019].
Anti-aging and heart disease prevention. In the KiSel-10 Study, daily CoQ10 and selenium supplementation of senior citizens for four years showed significant heart health benefits [Alehagen 2013; Alehagen 2015]:
- reduced cardiovascular disease mortality
- improved heart function
- enhanced health-related quality of life
Sub-studies of the KiSel-10 Study data have shown that the most important biological mechanisms to explain these beneficial heart health outcomes are the following [Alehagen 2018; Alehagen 2022]:
- reduced levels of systemic inflammation
- reduced levels of oxidative stress
- reduced levels of fibrosis
- improved endothelial function
Conclusion: Anti-aging and Longevity Effects of Supplementation with Coenzyme Q10 and Selenium
Why is the supplementation with Coenzyme Q10 and selenium necessary?
Because: The human body does not synthesize selenium but is dependent upon the diet for its supply of the trace element. In many regions of Europe and the Middle East, selenium intakes and serum levels are low because of the selenium-poor soil and selenium-poor foodstuffs [Stoffaneller & Morse 2015]; the situation is less acute in the United States but may be worthy of monitoring.
Because: Humans, once they reach middle age and progress into their senior years, synthesize less and less Coenzyme Q10 with increasing age. One estimate is that the heart cells of an 80-year-old man will synthesize about half as much Coenzyme Q10 as the heart cells of a 20-year-old man [Kalén 1989]. As it is virtually impossible to make up for the lost bio-synthesize through the diet, CoQ10 supplementation is important.
However: Note that not all CoQ10 supplements give the same absorption and bioavailability. This is an important fact. It is best to buy a CoQ10 product with scientifically documented absorption and health effects.
Read our key article about CoQ10 and cardiovascular health in elderly people
Alehagen U, Johansson P, Björnstedt M, Rosén A. Cardiovascular mortality and N-terminal-proBNP reduced after combined selenium and coenzyme Q10 supplementation: A 5-year prospective randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Int J Cardiol. 2013;167:1860-1866.
Alehagen U, Aaseth J, Alexander J, Johansson P. Still reduced cardiovascular mortality 12 years after supplementation with selenium and coenzyme Q10 for four years: A validation of previous 10-year follow-up results of a prospective randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial in elderly. PLoS One. 2018 Apr 11;13(4):e0193120.
Alehagen U, Johansson P, Svensson E, Aaseth J, Alexander J. Improved cardiovascular health by supplementation with selenium and coenzyme Q10: applying structural equation modelling (SEM) to clinical outcomes and biomarkers to explore underlying mechanisms in a prospective randomized double-blind placebo-controlled intervention project in Sweden. Eur J Nutr. 2022 Sep;61(6):3135-3148. Epub 2022 Apr 6.
Amano H, Chaudhury A, Rodriguez-Aguayo C, Lu L, Akhanov V, Catic A, Popov YV, Verdin E, Johnson H, Stossi F, Sinclair DA, Nakamaru-Ogiso E, Lopez-Berestein G, Chang JT, Neilson JR, Meeker A, Finegold M, Baur JA, Sahin E. Telomere Dysfunction Induces Sirtuin Repression that Drives Telomere-Dependent Disease. Cell Metab. 2019 Jun 4;29(6):1274-1290.e9.
Johansson P, Dahlstrom O, Dahlstrom U, Alehagen U. Improved health-related quality of life, and more days out of hospital with supplementation with selenium and coenzyme Q10 combined. J Nutr Health Aging. 2015;19:870-7.
Opstad TB, Alexander J, Aaseth JO, Larsson A, Seljeflot I, Alehagen, U. Selenium and Coenzyme Q10 intervention prevents telomere attrition, with association to reduced cardiovascular mortality—sub-study of a randomized clinical trial. Nutrients. 2022;14:3346.
Sinclair, David A. & Matthew D. LaPlante. Lifespan: Why We Age―and Why We Don’t Have To. Atria Books, 2019.
Stoffaneller R, Morse NL. A review of dietary selenium intake and selenium status in Europe and the Middle East. Nutrients. 2015 Feb 27;7(3):1494-537.
The information provided in this review article is not intended as medical advice and should not be used as such.
The KiSel-10 Study: How to grow older and still maintain good health
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