The Purely Primal Skincare Blog

{Fix your skin. Naturally!}

I do not have naturally flawless skin.

I have lovely skin that I worked my tush off to get over the course of several years; a process that involved many detours, mistakes, and lots of disappointment.

Sometimes, when I take my eye off the ball, my skin tries to get naughty again. When I finished my book, and the chronic stress of oh my gawd book edits will I ever sleep again co-incided with the sudden realization that oh my gawd I’m an introvert who now has to promote a book FEAR AND CHOCOLATE … I had a nice little stress-induced flare-up. I won’t lie. I was like a Cathy comic, I swear.


(As I explain in the Purely Primal Skincare Guide, stress has a profound impact on the skin, for a few key reasons.)

Being pre-disposed to poor skin is something that doesn’t just go away. But it can be controlled, and even “sent to remission.” I’ve pulled out all my Purely Primal Skincare Guide tricks, and then some (the patience trick is my least favorite) to get myself back on track.

Having nice skin when you don’t naturally have nice skin is WORK. It doesn’t happen by accident.

It happens by smart nutrition, a healthy digestive system, managed stress, and nourishing topical care.

Today, let’s talk smart nutrition; in particular, let’s talk about CoQ10, a little-known nutrient for healthy skin. While there are lots of nutrients that are vital for skin health – zinc, vitamin A, vitamin D and vitamin K2 come to mind – CoQ10 is one most of us don’t think about. It’s actually not a nutrient in the way we traditionally think about nutrients; it’s not a vitamin, but an enzyme that the body produces on its own. Production degrades greatly over time, though, making dietary sources important. Lucky for us, it can also be obtained through food.

Even the realest-Real-Food-devotee might not get the CoQ10-rich foods too often, however, because it’s present in foods many of us aren’t used to eating.

Here’s what I’m getting at: CoQ10 is mostly available from organ meats, like beef liver and heart, and is most rich (in fact, it was first discovered) in beef heart.


<<Skeevie Heebie Jeebies>>

Can you just skip the beef heart and supplement with CoQ10? It’s not my favorite strategy. I think it’s best to seek the whole food source. My research has convinced me of one key thing: nutrients occur together in real food for a reason. The nutrients end up being of greater value together than apart.

It’s the First Law of the Six-Sigma Retreat To Move Forward: Synergy.

Never mock synergy.

Here’s why you might really really want to think about that beef heart:

  • CoQ10 supports cellular health by serving as an anti-oxidant – it literally protects our cells from aging prematurely thanks to environmental insults. Anti-oxidants are critical components in skincare (vitamin C, an important skincare nutrient, is an anti-oxidant; as are the fat-soluble vitamins).
  • CoQ10 is a main component in the cellular generation of energy. The skin is incredibly energetically demanding; therefore, CoQ10 is a critical part of providing cells with the energy they need. Running the skin without adequate CoQ10 is like growing a garden without adequate water or giving a speech to the Six Sigmas without a pre-presentation pep talk.
  • CoQ10 protects against the breakdown of collagen (y’know, that fibrous tissue we also support by eatin’ lots of this)…
  • …and it also supports the body’s creation of hyaluronic acid (which has also become a skincare supplement trend about which I haven’t made up my mind), which helps to support nice, plump, glowing skin.

You can purchase beef heart from your local farmer or through US Wellness Meats (if you know another online retailer, let me know in the comments). We get ours from our local farmer when we get our “Cowshare.”

Most cooking methods other than frying will maintain CoQ10 content of beef heart.

My favorite trick: grinding or grating some heart into chili. I’ll also combine a few cups of broth, some onion and carrot in the pressure cooker with cubes of beef heart and cooking it for around 45 minutes.

Here are a few more beef heart recipes to try:

Paleo in Comparison’s Crock Pot Beef Heart 
Kristens Raw Heart Stew (Kristen is raw, not the heart!)
Michael Ruhlman’s Grilled Beef Heart with Herbed Vinaigrette

Would you eat beef heart? Do you eat beef heart? Leave your thoughts, suggestions or recipes in the comments!

For more in-depth information and strategies for healthy skin, check out the Purely Primal Skincare Guide!

Thanks for reading!