It reduces arterial stiffness by around 42 per cent, a dramatic improvement that lowers the risk of heart disease by around 13 per cent, say researchers from the University of Colorado in Boulder.
The antioxidant MitoQ—adapted from Coenzyme Q10—targets the mitochondria, the 'powerhouses' of our cells, and changes the lining of blood vessels (endothelium) to improve their ability to dilate, which increases blood flow.
Within just six weeks, the improvements were so great that the blood vessels were performing as though they were 15 to 20 years 'younger', say the researchers, who tested the supplement on 20 healthy men and women aged between 60 and 79.
The volunteers were given either MitoQ or a placebo, and then they switched after a two-week 'wash-out'. During the time the volunteers were taking the real supplement, artery dilation improved by 42 per cent.
The study is the first clinical trial to assess the effect of an antioxidant like MitoQ on vascular function. It also puts antioxidants back in the frame after they had been dismissed in other studies as being ineffective. "This study breathes new life into the discredited theory that supplementing the diet with antioxidants can improve health," said Doug Seals, one of the researchers.
MitoQ is at the 'serious' end of supplements, and is considered a nutraceutical, or pharmaceutical-grade vitamin. It has been adapted from the naturally-occurring antioxidant, Coenzyme Q10, to target the mitochondria in cells.