Coenzyme Q10 in Racehorse Nutrition

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) plays a key role in mitochondrial function and is essential for the production of energy. CoQ10 is also a powerful antioxidant, capable of regenerating other antioxidants, such as vitamin E and vitamin C. In horses, certain forms of CoQ10 are well-absorbed and supplementation has been shown to increase CoQ10 levels in equine serum and muscle.

Antioxidants protect cell membranes and support overall health. Specifically, antioxidants counter the effects of “reactive oxygen species,” also known as free radicals, which damage cell membranes. Reactive oxygen species may increase due to environmental factors, lack of antioxidants, or even as a natural response to exercise. Common antioxidants include vitamin E, vitamin C and selenium, the latter of which is an essential component of glutathione peroxidase.

“Coenzyme Q10 is a naturally occurring substance that can be used to enhance both aerobic metabolism and antioxidant activity,” explains Joe Pagan, Ph.D., president and founder of Kentucky Equine Research. “We’re studying this intensely now, and we think it has a big place in performance horse nutrition.”

Racehorse Down and Dirty gallops at the Kentucky Equine Research Performance Center in Ocala. Kentucky Equine Research Photo

Based on the results of ongoing studies into CoQ10 at its Thoroughbred Performance Center in Ocala, Florida, Kentucky Equine Research has developed Nano-Q10™, a highly bioavailable form of CoQ10.

“Our research, in collaboration with Dr. Stephanie Valberg from Michigan State University, demonstrated that Nano-Q10 supplementation promotes oxidative metabolism in skeletal muscle by increasing mitochondrial oxidative enzymes in conjunction with decreasing glycolytic enzymes,” Pagan said. “Proteomic analysis of muscle from 13 Thoroughbreds supplemented with Nano-Q10 showed upregulation of 13 mitochondrial proteins and down regulation of nine glycolytic enzyme proteins.”

Nano-Q10 is a highly bioavailable form of coenzyme Q10 studied in racehorses at the Performance Center. Kentucky Equine Research Photo

“There’s an issue in Thoroughbred racehorses that seems to be associated with high levels of a specific enzyme in the blood called GGT,” Pagan said. “We have some theories on what might cause this in certain horses—we think it may be related to oxidative stress—and it seems Nano-Q10 may be effective in reducing some of the problems we’re seeing. Our preliminary research with our racehorses in Florida suggests that horses with higher serum CoQ10 have lower GGT.”

If you’d like to discuss the benefits of including a coenzyme Q10 supplement, such as Nano-Q10™ from Kentucky Equine Research, in your stable’s feeding program, contact a nutrition advisor today.

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