First discovered in 1957, Coenzyme Q10, or simply CoQ10, is also called ubiquinone, a name that signifies its ubiquitous (widespread) distribution in the human body. As a coenzyme, this nutrient aids mitochondria, the powerhouses of cells, in the complex process of transforming food into ATP, the energy on which the body runs. Coenzyme Q10 is a nutrient which has been found to be beneficial for a surprising variety of health problems:
Virtually every cell in the human body contains coenzyme Q10. The mitochondria, the area of cells where energy is produced, contain the most coenzyme Q10. The heart and the liver, because they contain the most mitochondria per cell, contain the greatest amount of coenzyme Q10. Coenzyme Q10 has helped some people with congestive heart failure (2) - an effect reported in an analysis of 8 controlled trials (3) and found in some (4), although not all double-blind studies.(5,6) Coenzyme Q10 may take several months to show beneficial effects. People with congestive heart failure who are taking coenzyme Q10 should not stop taking it suddenly, because sudden withdrawal may temporarily aggravate the symptoms of congestive heart failure.
Coenzyme Q10 for a healthy heart
Ubiquinone, or coenzyme Q10, is an important nutrient. 2 of its primary uses are for those who are taking high cholesterol pills (the statin drugs in particular). Certain lipid-lowering drugs, such as the 'statins' - lovastatin, simvastatin, pravastatin - and gemfibrozil as well as oral agents which lower blood sugar, such as tolazamide and glyburide, cause a decrease in serum levels of coenzyme Q10 and reduce the effects of coenzyme Q10 supplementation (7,8). These drugs inhibit the production of coenzyme Q10 by the liver and will cause serious complications unless one supplements coenzyme Q10 back into the diet. A prescription for lipid-lowering statin drugs should always be accompanied with a recommendation to take coenzyme Q10, because if a person is deficient in coenzyme Q10, heart failure is more likely.
Beta-blockers (drugs which slow the heart rate and lower blood pressure) can inhibit coenzyme Q10-dependent enzyme reactions.(9)
In congestive heart failure, the heart cannot pump efficiently, which slows the flow of blood to the lungs and the rest of the body. The heart can temporarily maintain the blood in several ways. It can enlarge to pump extra blood; it can beat faster; or the ventricular walls can become thicker, which can strengthen the pumping ability.
So how does Coenzyme Q10 work? To better understand this, we need to go back to a term from high school biology that you may have forgotten: adenosine triphosphate, also known as 'ATP'.
ATP, occurring in every cell of your body, serves as a source of energy for many of your bodys biochemical processes and represents the reserve energy in your muscles. Your heart for example, being a muscle which is continually in motion, needs a constant supply of ATP. This is where the importance of Coenzyme Q10 comes into play: ATP cannot be produced without Coenzyme Q10. Coenzyme Q10 is the catalyst for the creation of ATP. This means that Coenzyme Q10 plays a vital role in the inner workings of your body and, for obvious reasons, is found in the highest concentration in the heart.
Coenzyme Q10 and Parkinson's disease
Results of the first placebo-controlled, multi-center clinical trial of the compound coenzyme Q10 suggest that it can slow down disease progression in patients with early-stage Parkinson's disease. While the findings must be confirmed in a larger study, they provide hope that coenzyme Q10 may ultimately provide a new way of treating Parkinson's disease.
II study, led by Clifford Shults, M.D., of the University of California,
San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine, looked at a total of 80 Parkinson's
disease patients at 10 centers across the U.S. to determine whether coenzyme
Q10 is safe and whether it can slow down the rate of functional decline.
The study was funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders
and Stroke (NINDS) and appears in the October 15,
"This trial suggests that coenzyme Q10 can slow the rate of deterioration in Parkinson's disease," says Dr. Shults. "However, before the compound is used widely, the results need to be confirmed in a larger group of patients."
The researchers believe that coenzyme Q10 works by improving the function of mitochondria (10), the 'powerhouses' which produce energy in cells. Coenzyme Q10 is an important link in the chain of chemical reactions which produces this energy. It's also a potent antioxidant - a chemical that "mops up" harmful free radicals generated during normal metabolism. Previous studies carried out by Dr. Shults, Richard Haas, M.D., of UCSD and Flint Beal, M.D., of Cornell University have shown that coenzyme Q10 levels in mitochondria in Parkinson's disease patients are reduced and that mitochondrial function in these patients is impaired.
Animal studies have shown that coenzyme Q10 can protect the area of the brain which is damaged in Parkinson's disease. Dr. Shults and his colleagues also conducted a pilot study with Parkinson's disease patients which showed that consumption of up to 800 mg/day of coenzyme Q10 was well tolerated and significantly increased the level of coenzyme Q10 in the bloodstream.
Coenzyme Q10 in food
Where is Coenzyme Q10 found? Coenzyme Q10 is primarily found in fish and meat. Our bodies are able to produce some of the CoQ10 that we need. The rest is synthesized from the foods we eat. The highest dietary sources of Coenzyme Q10 come from - in descending order according to content - fresh sardines and mackerel, the heart, liver and meat of beef, lamb and pork along with eggs. There are plenty of vegetable sources of Coenzyme Q10, the richest being spinach, broccoli, peanuts, wheat germ and whole grains - in that order, although the amount is significantly smaller than that found in meats. Also, it is important to note that these foods must be raw, fresh and unprocessed - no milling, canning, preserving, freezing, etc., plus grown/produced in an unpolluted environment to be considered viable sources.
Supplementing with Coenzyme Q10
Coenzyme Q10 is primarily offered in a capsule form containing a yellow-orange powder. Softgel form is also good. Tablet form, much less digestible, is not recommended. I spend a lot of time researching the best prices for supplements on the internet, and in my opinion the lowest price for high quality coenzyme Q10 can be found here. I also like Puritan Pride's special "Buy 1 Get 2 FREE" promotions on Coenzyme Q10.
How much coenzyme Q10 is usually taken? Adult levels of supplementation are usually 30–90 mg per day, although individuals with specific health conditions may supplement with higher levels, such as 100 mg 3-4 times per day. Most of the research on heart conditions has used 90–150 mg of coenzyme Q10 per day. Co-enzyme Q10 is normally present in every cell of your body. Toxicity and side effects have not been encountered in several decades of clinical use at doses up to several hundred mg a day.
It is recommended that coenzyme Q10 be taken with a meal that contains oil to improve absorption. CoQ10 is fat soluble, and like most other fat-soluble compounds, is poorly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract, especially when taken on an empty stomach.
For milligram content of CoQ10 in foods, plus extensive research documentation, I recommend you read The Miracle Nutrient, Coenzyme Q10, by Emile G. Bliznakov, M.D.
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(1). Gaby AR. Coenzyme Q10. In A Textbook of Natural Medicine, by JE Pizzorno, MT Murray. Seattle: Bastyr University Press, 1998, V:CoQ10–1––8. [review].
(2). Mortensen SA, Vadhanavikit S, Baandrup U, Folkers K. Long-term coenzyme
Q10 therapy: a major advance in the management of resistant myocardial
failure. Drug Exptl Clin Res 1985;11:58193.
(7). Kaikkonen J, Nyyssonen K, Tuomainen TP, et al.: Determinants of plasma coenzyme Q10 in humans. Federation of European Biochemical Societies Letters 443(2): 163-166, 1999.
(8). Thibault A, Samid D, Tompkins AC, et al.: Phase I study of lovastatin, an inhibitor of the mevalonate pathway, in patients with cancer. Clinical Cancer Research 2(3): 483-491, 1996.
(9). Pepping J: Coenzyme Q. American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy 56: 519-521, 1999.
(10) Shults CW, Oakes D, Kieburtz K, Beal F, Haas R, Plumb S, Juncos JL, Nutt J, Shoulson I, Carter J, Kompoliti K, Perlmutter JS, Reich S, Stern M, Watts RL, Kurlan R, Molho E, Harrison M, Lew M, and the Parkinson Study Group. "Effects of coenzyme Q10 in early Parkinson disease: evidence of slowing of the functional decline." Archives of Neurology, October 2002, Vol. 59, No. 10, pp. 1541-1550.
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