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Can coenzyme Q10 supplementation make your eggs act a little bit younger?!

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It’s an unfortunate fact of life: every single day we get a tiny bit older. I truly believe that you’re only as old as you feel, and just because you’ve hit your 35th birthday doesn’t mean you don’t look and feel 25! Unfortunately our eggs, or oocytes, don’t agree with the theory that feeling young at heart makes us look young at heart. As women, we are born with an unchangeable number of eggs. Over time the quality of these eggs naturally declines, regardless of how we feel about it, but it’s not all downhill from there! Although we can’t change the number of eggs we have, we may be able to change the quality of those eggs and quality is more important than quantity, right?! And while we’re on the topic, we can influence the quality and quantity of sperm too!

How can we influence egg quality?

Even though we’re stuck with a certain number of eggs, we can influence the quality of our eggs because they are arrested in a stage of cell division called meiosis I. This means they are not mature and they have not completed cell division. It’s the maturation process that we can influence! Female eggs remain in the early stage of cell division until a woman reaches puberty. Once a woman has a menstrual cycle, a few of these eggs mature each cycle and compete for ovulation and move into the next stage of cell division. This cell division is responsible for dividing DNA and ultimately influencing the end quality of the egg.

Where does CoQ10 come in?

If you attended grade 8 science class then you’ve probably heard of the mitochondria being the “powerhouse” of the cell. In order for the oocytes to divide efficiently, they need lots of energy from their mitochondria and coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant that is essential for providing this energy. Our eggs cannot function without CoQ10, which is why our body naturally makes a certain amount. However, as we get older we produce less CoQ10 and we end up with eggs that aren’t great at dividing and have poorer development.

This lack of mitochondrial energy translates into: difficulty ovulating, trouble conceiving, and in the case of IVF- issues with making an embryo that survives to day 5 to be transferred. Poor quality eggs put you at greater risk of miscarriage due to aneuploidy, a term that refers to an abnormal number of chromosomes in the embryo. Poor egg and sperm quality are major causes of infertility. This can all sound very overwhelming, but CoQ10 plays a role in improving the quality of both eggs and sperm!

The possibilities of CoQ10 for egg development:

  • Decreases the rate of aneuploidy (abnormal chromosome numbers)
  • Boosts mitochondrial function and cell division
  • Increases energy, or ATP, production in the egg
  • Stimulates more eggs to develop in combination with IVF
  • Prevents DNA oxidation, causing damage
  • Induces ovulation in combination with clomid in cases of clomid-resistant women with PCOS
  • Significantly improves endometrial thickness, serum estrogen, and serum progesterone in clomid-resistant women with PCOS
  • Significantly improves clinical pregnancy rates in clomid-resistant women with PCOS
  • Greater concentrations of CoQ10 are associated with higher grade embryos in IVF and better embryo development

The possibilities of CoQ10 for sperm development:

  • Decreases the rate of aneuploidy (abnormal chromosome numbers)
  • Increases energy, or ATP, production in the sperm
  • Prevents DNA oxidation, causing damage (decreases DNA fragmentation)
  • Increases sperm concentration
  • Increases mitochondrial function and sperm motility
  • Decreases abnormal sperm morphology

Wow that’s a lot! Are you hooked on CoQ10? Here’s what you need to know to incorporate it into your life:

If you’ve been to the health food store lately you’ve likely seen the innumerous number of brands and forms of CoQ10. There are two forms of CoQ10 that are important to know: ubiquinone and ubiquinol. They both exist in our cells; in fact our mitochondria depend on the interconversion between the two forms. According to current research, ubiquinol is slightly more readily absorbed in the gut compared to ubiquinone. However, even more important than the form of CoQ10 is the method it is delivered. Since CoQ10 is a fat-soluble substance, it needs to be compounded in a fat-soluble material. This can be tricky to figure out based on a label alone, so it’s best to trust your neighbourhood naturopathic doctor in prescribing the best option for you. You should also refer to a naturopathic doctor to determine the optimal dose to suit your unique needs. Dosing can range from 200-800mg depending on your requirements, but there’s also a maximum amount of CoQ10 your body can absorb at one time.

The take home message:

CoQ10 has the potential to significantly improve egg and sperm quality due to age related decline. It takes both an egg and sperm about 3 months to mature, so if you’re considering CoQ10 supplementation you and your partner should begin at least 3 months prior to conception. May you always be ageless, including your eggs!


Book an appointment with Dr. Sumner HERE. Learn about her fertility services HERE


Ben‐Meir, A., Burstein, E., Borrego‐Alvarez, A., Chong, J., Wong, E., Yavorska, T., … & Alexis, J. (2015). Coenzyme Q10 restores oocyte mitochondrial function and fertility during reproductive aging. Aging Cell, 14(5), 887-895.

El Refaeey, A., Selem, A., & Badawy, A. (2014). Combined coenzyme Q10 and clomiphene citrate for ovulation induction in clomiphene-citrate-resistant polycystic ovary syndrome. Reproductive biomedicine online, 29(1), 119-124.

Barakat, A., Shegokar, R., Dittgen, M., & Müller, R. H. (2013). Coenzyme Q10 oral bioavailability: effect of formulation type. Journal of Pharmaceutical Investigation, 43(6), 431-451.

Turi, A., Giannubilo, S. R., Brugè, F., Principi, F., Battistoni, S., Santoni, F., … & Tiano, L. (2012). Coenzyme Q10 content in follicular fluid and its relationship with oocyte fertilization and embryo grading. Archives of gynecology and obstetrics, 285(4), 1173-1176.

Bentov, Y., Hannam, T., Jurisicova, A., Esfandiari, N., & Casper, R. F. (2014). Coenzyme Q10 supplementation and oocyte aneuploidy in women undergoing IVF-ICSI treatment. Clinical medicine insights. Reproductive health, 8, 31.

Failla, M. L., Chitchumroonchokchai, C., & Aoki, F. (2014). Increased bioavailability of ubiquinol compared to that of ubiquinone is due to more efficient micellarization during digestion and greater GSH-dependent uptake and basolateral secretion by Caco-2 cells. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 62(29), 7174-7182.

Calogero, A. E., Condorelli, R. A., Russo, G. I., & Vignera, S. L. (2017). Conservative Nonhormonal Options for the Treatment of Male Infertility: Antibiotics, Anti-Inflammatory Drugs, and Antioxidants. BioMed Research International, 2017.



Why Probiotics Are the Greatest Supplement & 3 Tips For Buying the Best

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Following up on my blog post titled “Why Supplement Brand Matters”, this post is dedicated to picking the best probiotic supplement

Probiotics are my absolute favourite supplement!

  • If I was stranded on a deserted island and I could only bring one supplement I would bring probiotics (even if protein powder would be a more likely choice for survival….)
  • If I could describe myself using one supplement it would be a probiotic: I can ease your anxiety, I care about your gut, I don’t want you to get sick, and I’m dedicated to helping you go to the bathroom!
  • If I had to pick just one supplement that is the greatest of all, it would be probiotics!


So what is a probiotic?

A probiotic is a live, healthy bacterium. Your body naturally has healthy bacteria that protect you from harm, but your body can also develop bad bacteria that do cause harm. The bacterial habitat in your body is known as the microbiome and when supported it can do wonders for your health!


Why do I need probiotics?

Your body is born with lots of good bacteria, but overtime this good bacteria is depleted with antibiotic use, medication, poor diet, inflammation, infection etc. When the good bacteria disappears, there is more space in your gut for bad bacteria to adhere and cause health concerns. The goal of probiotic supplementation is to replenish your body with good, protective bacteria, get rid of the bad bacteria, and take up lots of space so there’s no room for bad bacteria to adhere (picture your gut like a parking garage that needs all the spaces full). You may have also heard that the gut is the “second brain”. A huge component of your nervous system (and immune system) is in your gut, so when bad bacteria starts to populate and affect your digestive health, it also affects your mental and immune health.


Can I get probiotics from my food? What about Jamie Lee Curtis the dancing Activia lady?


There are many foods that have naturally occurring probiotics, like: yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi….well essentially anything fermented. I’m sure you’ve seen the countless yogurt ads of middle-aged women belly dancing after they’ve eaten their probiotic yogurt and gone to the bathroom! Sure yogurt has probiotics, but it also has lots of sugar. It’s fantastic to include these probiotic foods in your diet, but if you’re looking to up the anti and achieve a greater therapeutic benefit then read further.



Probiotic supplements can be used very effectively for, but not limited to:

  • bloating/ gas
  • digestive pain
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • anxiety
  • low mood
  • frequent colds/flus
  • skin concerns
  • vaginal health
  • bladder health
  • kidney health
  • liver detox
  • hormone breakdown
  • weight loss
  • …..wow that’s a lot of stuff!


Hopefully I’ve now convinced you that probiotics rule, so how do you pick one? If you read my last blog you know that supplement brand matters, and it’s not any different when it comes to probiotics. So here we go…


3 Tips for Picking the Best Probiotic Supplement

  1. Take a look at the CFUs (colony forming units)

This indicates the number of bacterial units in the supplement. Different areas of your digestive system have different amounts of probiotic bacteria (you already know that there’s lots of bacteria in your gut!). For example, your colon has more good bacteria than your mouth (up to 99 billion more to be exact). This means that in order to improve the health of your colon and replenish the bacteria, you need a higher number of CFUs than replenishing the healthy bacteria in the mouth. Most health concerns come from a depletion of good bacteria in the small intestine and colon, so you need a higher number of CFUs.

Quick tip– the typical maintenance dose of probiotic for general health is 10-20 billion CFU



  1. Take a look at the bacterial strain(s)

It’s pretty simple: different strains have different therapeutic uses, because different strains of bacteria are found in different parts of your body. For example, if you experience chronic urinary tract infections, Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus reuteri are the well-researched probiotic strains. For irritable bowel syndrome you may want to consider Lactobacillus plantarum 299v, and for C. difficile Saccharomyces boulardii is commonly used. And the list goes on!

Quick tip– Multi-strain probiotics, as the name suggests, have multiple probiotic strains. More strains = greater likelihood you’ll get the strain you need. Combining probiotic strains also has a synergistic effect, meaning they work together to improve your gut health. Sometimes it’s more effective to have a whole team instead of just one guy.

  1. Take a look for Prebiotics (aka FOS) and Dairy

Okay what? You read it right; there are probiotics and PREbiotics. PREbiotics are the food source used to fuel the PRObiotics. FOS (fructooliosaccharide) is a form of prebiotic that is added to certain probiotic supplements. For some people, like those with irritable bowel syndrome, FOS can cause bloating and digestive upset and should be avoided. Finally, some brands of probiotics grow their bacteria on a dairy medium (because it’s a sugary fuel!), if you’re sensitive to dairy this is important for you to know.

Quick tip– make sure you read labels thoroughly. The first one has FOS, the second is dairy free



So Now What?

If you are experiencing the symptoms I’ve discussed in this post, you want to belly dance after going to the bathroom, or if you’re interested in what probiotics can do for you book an appointment with me HERE


Borchert, D., Sheridan, L., Papatsoris, A., Faruquz, Z., Barua, J. M., Junaid, I., … & Buchholz, N. (2008). Prevention and treatment of urinary tract infection with probiotics: Review and research perspective. Indian Journal of Urology24(2), 139.

Simren M, Syrous A, Lindh A, Abrahamsson H. Effects of Lactobacillus plantarum 299V on symptoms and rectal sensitivity in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)—a randomized double blind controlled trial. Gastroenterology. 2006;130(1):T2043.

Hickson, M. (2011). Probiotics in the prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhoea and Clostridium difficile infection. Therapeutic advances in gastroenterology, 1756283X11399115.

Foster, J. A., & Neufeld, K. A. M. (2013). Gut–brain axis: how the microbiome influences anxiety and depression. Trends in neurosciences36(5), 305-312.

Million, M., & Raoult, D. (2013). The role of the manipulation of the gut microbiota in obesity. Current infectious disease reports15(1), 25-30.

Anders, H. J., Andersen, K., & Stecher, B. (2013). The intestinal microbiota, a leaky gut, and abnormal immunity in kidney disease. Kidney international83(6), 1010-1016.

Kelly, D., Conway, S., & Aminov, R. (2005). Commensal gut bacteria: mechanisms of immune modulation. Trends in immunology26(6), 326-333.

6 Ways To Know Your Supplement Will Actually Work

By | Supplements | No Comments

I’ve been in the health products industry for a number of years now, long enough to see the good, the bad, and the ugly (aka the life changing, the mediocre, and the complete waste of money) when it comes to supplement brands. It seems like there are more and more brands producing what seem like identical supplements, which makes it impossible for you to make a decision! The health products industry is not rigorously regulated to protect you as a consumer, which unfortunately leaves it up to you to choose brands that actually work.

This blog post is to help you navigate the supplement jungle and to share with you that all supplement brands are absolutely not equal. If you’re finding your supplements aren’t working for the reasons you bought them for, then this blog is for you. Please let me be the one to tell you that it’s not you, it’s the brand!

Here is my list of 6 things that ensure a fantastic brand, and an effective supplement:


1. Your supplement brand does not have any unnecessary additives.

There are so many brands that have countless non-medicinal ingredients that no one can pronounce!

Quick tip: if your pill is in a coloured capsule you know harmful ingredients have been added. Here’s an example of a common label that has unhealthy non-medicinal ingredients


2. The ingredients are standardized to the medicinal component.

This means a brand is not just throwing an herb in a capsule, but extracting the medicinal  ingredients from the herb. For example, the first label provides a guaranteed percentage of the medicinal ingredient in ginger: gingerol. The second label just has ginger, with no gingerol.

Quick tip: a percentage next to the herb indicates the medicinal standardization

3. The form of the ingredient is bioavailable to your body.

This means the ingredients are in a recognizable form for your body to absorb. If your body is not able to process the ingredients then you don’t get any benefits and they end up in your urine! Below there are two labels that include forms of folic acid. The first label describes the form of folic acid: L-MTHF (the most readily absorbed form). The second label does not list forms of ingredients at all.

Quick tip: form can be really confusing, your naturopathic doctor is trained to know what is best absorbed by your body

4. Fat-soluble herbs have fat-soluble ingredients


There are certain vitamins and herbs that need to be taken with fat in order to be absorbed. Did you know Vitamin D and Curcumin/Tumeric are examples of these? Curcumin supplements are extremely popular now for inflammation and pain. Every brand makes a curcumin supplement! But only a good brand makes sure it will be absorbed properly.

Quick tip: the terms for “fat soluble” include: glycine, phosphatidylcholine, lecithin, emulsified, liposomal.

5. Ingredients listed have been validated by third party lab testing


This means the product has been tested by an unbiased lab to ensure the ingredients are present in their labeled dosage. Unfortunately, health product companies aren’t forced to test their products at all in Ontario! So when you see a company that uses third party testing you can rest assure they care about your health!

Quick tip: brands that use third party lab testing include: NFH, AOR, Thorne, Cyto-Matrix, Designs for Health, MediHerb and Seroyal.

6. The dose

The dose on the bottle does not actually reflect therapeutic benefit. Depending on your concern, you may need to take less…or significantly more of the ingredient to see benefit. For example, a product may have 30mg of magnesium citrate, but for bowel function, sleep, and muscle pain you would need a much more powerful product.

Quick tip: your naturopathic doctor is an expert in the scientific evidence for effective dosage.

If you find yourself staring at a sea of supplement brands in your medicine cabinet that don’t meet this criteria, or you’re spending hours at the health food store surrounded by walls of brands, I can help you determine the most effective brands for you. If your supplements aren’t working it does not mean natural alternatives don’t work, it means the brand you’re using doesn’t work!

Book an appointment with Dr. Sumner HERE



Radomski, J. L. (1974). Toxicology of food colors. Annual Review of Pharmacology14(1), 127-137.

Kakkar, V., Singh, S., Singla, D., & Kaur, I. P. (2011). Exploring solid lipid nanoparticles to enhance the oral bioavailability of curcumin. Molecular nutrition & food research55(3), 495-503.

Akoglu, B., Schrott, M., Bolouri, H., Jaffari, A., Kutschera, E., Caspary, W. F., & Faust, D. (2008). The folic acid metabolite L-5-methyltetrahydrofolate effectively reduces total serum homocysteine level in orthotopic liver transplant recipients: a double-blind placebo-controlled study. European journal of clinical nutrition62(6), 796-801.