Does the vitamin aisle hold the key to improved fertility if you are in your 30s or 40s? Maybe...
According to a study from researchers in Canada, a supplement readily found in most health food stores may have the power to slow signs of aging in eggs, one of the most common conception hurdles older women face when trying to become pregnant.
What's this latest "miracle cure"? It's Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, a vitamin-like substance that helps produce energy in our cells and also acts as an antioxidant, CTV reports. Levels of the substance drop naturally as we age, but growing evidence shows that taking a CoQ10 supplement may help protect against heart attacks and lower blood pressure and cholesterol in aging adults. And maybe, just maybe, CoQ10 could be the natural fertility booster older moms-to-be have been waiting for.
In a preliminary 12-week study, researchers gave CoQ 10 to 52-week-old female mice—about "middle age" for a mouse. The results? Eggs appeared to rejuvenate and ovulation improved. What's more, there were more pregnancies in the mice taking the supplement and more babies in the litters.
"The results were spectacular, that we can convert older eggs to look like younger eggs..." says Dr. Robert Casper, a lead investigator at Canada's Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute (via CTV).
By restoring normal energy levels to aging egg cells, researchers think CoQ10 helps eggs to function more normally—leading to fewer errors when eggs divide after fertilization and a lower risk for chromosomal defects (and miscarriage).
Researchers are in the midst of studying how older women undergoing IVF respond to CoQ10 treatment, with some getting a placebo, the others getting the supplement. The study will test whether taking 1,200 mg of CoQ10 a day can lead to a higher number of chromosomally normal eggs.
"We will be really excited if it works anything close to what we saw in the mice," Dr. Casper tells CTV.