Embryo Quality Part II

CoQ10 and egg and embryo quality

Did you know the quality of your egg is the most important factor for achieving a successful pregnancy?

Coenzyme 10 or more commonly known as CoQ10 is a natural vitamin-like substance found in our bodies, and is in small amounts in meats and seafood.

As women age, their eggs accumulate what’s called free radical damage, where an unstable molecule easily reacts in the egg cell, causing damage to the egg.

Turi et al., (2012) reported that women with unexplained fertility, who also produced poor quality embryos, had a decrease of a particular product (glutathione peroxidase) that is found in the fluid around their eggs.  The main role of glutathione is to protect cells against oxidative damage.

Turi et al., (2012) reported CoQ10 levels to be higher in this fluid for women who had more mature eggs and better quality embryos.

A decline in the concentration of CoQ10 in our tissues and cells is part of human aging.  CoQ10 plays a large metabolic role in our mitochondrial cells and is crucial for energy metabolism.  It is thought to have a protective role as an antioxidant for sperm and eggs, and it also stimulates cell growth in both the eggs and sperm cells, and preventing the oxidative damage.

Essential fats and embryo quality

Omega-3 (n-3), omega-6 (n-6) and omega-9 (n-9) are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) essential in the human diet.

A study by Wakefield et al., (2007) found that due to the increased level of damage from the PUFAs, which impair the embryo’s development, women being supplemented with antioxidants have improved embryo quality (Wakefield et al., 2007).

By changing diets before maternal ageing begins, and consuming more natural omega-3s and less omega-6 fats, we may be able to improve our egg quality for the future and decrease the rate of genetically poor eggs and embryos.

In clinic we can easily and effectively assess your cellular levels of Omega 3 and 6’s with our popular Omega Index test (https://www.studio-you.com.au/introducing-the-omega-3-index-score-whats-yours/). Simply make an appointment with studio you and ask your practitioner for further information.

Strategies for improving ovarian reserve and increase embryo quality

Some clinics have found the use of dehydroepianndrosterone supplementation more commonly known as DHEA  (a hormone that also declines from the age of 30), may help increase the precursor hormones in women’s ovarian reserve.

A study by Yalmaz et al., (2013) found that by giving women DHEA supplementation, spontaneous pregnancy was increased, while the chance of pregnancy of those undergoing IVF also increased.

A study by Gleicher and Barad (2011) found that not only was there an increase in eggs when women were supplemented with DHEA, there was also an increase in egg and embryo quality and therefore pregnancy success, with a decline in rates of miscarriage.

The pitfall of using DHEA is that it’s also an androgen and if used continuously at high doses can lead to unwanted side effects.  Side effects to using more than 75mg of DHEA per day over a long period of time includes acne, deepening of the voice, facial hair growth.

Tips for improving egg and embryo quality with diet 

  • Increase foods containing polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), such as cold-water fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, trout), walnuts, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, flax oil.
  • Foods high in CoQ10 such as organ meats, sardines, mackerel, spinach, broccoli and cauliflower.
  • A study by Huang, B-M., et al (2004), showed that Cordyceps sinensis Mycelium (a type of mushroom used in Asian medicine) influences the quality of maturing eggs by affecting the expression of oestrogen production in the granulosa cells.  These cells are critical for egg maturation.
  • Cordyceps sinensis Mycelium contains many essential amino acids such as vitamin E, K and the B vitamins, which are all essential in egg quality and pregnancy.

Things to avoid

  • Reduce alcohol intake to a minimum – no more than 3 units per week, as this increases reactive oxidative stress/free radical damage.
  • Avoid pollutants, BPA, cleaning solvents, heavy metals, smoking and recreational drugs
  • Cut out all refined sugars, as these produce reactive oxidative species (ROS), that cause damage and spike insulin levels high insulin levels can affect egg development.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight and perform regular physical exercise


Bentov., Y. Casper., R. F. (2013)  ‘The aging oocyte-can mitochondrial function be improved?’ Fertility and Sterility99, 1, 18-22

Nehra., D. Lee., H. D. Fallon., E. M. Carlson., S. J. Woods., D, White. Y. A. Pan., A. H. Guo., L. Roding., S. J. Tilly., J. L. Rueda., B. R. and Puder., M. (2012)  ‘Prolonging the female reproductive lifespan and improving egg quality with dietary omega-3 fatty acids.’ Aging cell 11,1046-1054

Turi., A. Sterano., R. G. Francesca., B. Principi., F. Battistoni., S. Samtoni., F. Tranquilli., A. L. Littarru., G. Tiano., L. (2012)  ‘Coenzyme Q10 conent in follicular fluid and its relationship with oocyte fertilization and embryo grading.’  Reproductive Medicine 285, 1173-1176

Wakefield., S. L. Lane., M. Schilz., S. J. Herbart., M. L. Thompson., J. G. and Mitchell., G. (2008)  ‘Maternal supply of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids alter mechanisms involved in oocyte and early embryo development in the mouse. ’ American Journal of Physiology and Endocrinology and Metabolism294, E425-E434

Yilmaz.,N. Uygur., D. Inal., H.  Gorkem., U. Cicek., N. and Mollamahmutoglu., L. (2013)  ‘Dehyroepiandrosterone supplementation improves predictive markers for diminished ovarian reserve: serum AMH, inhibin B and antral follicle count.’  European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology 169, 257-260

Gleicher., N. and Barad., D. H. (2011)  ‘Dehydorpianrosterone (DHEA) supplementation in diminished ovarian reserve (DOR).Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology 9, 67-78