Muscle cells, among others, use coenzyme Q10 to generate energy in the cells' mitochondria. Athletes have many more of these small "power plants" in the cells, and even in a different form, which according to new research enables them to make 25% more energy.
A new scientific study has shown why athletes are more enduring. The study reveals that the small "power plants" (mitochondria) in muscle cells of soccer and cross-country skiers have more folds in the inner membrane and that the membrane has a variable density, which enable them to produce up to 25% more energy than mitochondria in people who do not play sports.
Researchers can not say at this stage whether it is an innate characteristic, or whether it is training that alters the mitochondrial structure and configuration. The research is published in The Journal of Physiology, Oct. 2016.
The more the better
Since mitochondria produce energy, it is clear that the more you have in your muscle cells, the better the muscle's ability to create energy, which increases the endurance. This has been known for over 40 years. We also know that professional athletes often have twice the number of mitochondria in their muscle cells, but it is apparently not the only reason that they are more enduring. Their mitochondria is evidently also each able to produce a lot more energy.
Coenzyme Q10 helps
The energy is produced by means of a biochemical conversion of fat, carbohydrate and protein. The vitamin-related substance coenzyme Q10 takes part of the energy metabolism and is therefore an important substance.
Our body produces plenty of the substance until around the age of 20. Hereafter this production declines as a natural part of the aging process. For this reason many elderly take - like athletes - supplements of coenzyme Q10 to compensate for this loss.