What is CoQ10?
CoQ10 (short for Coenzyme Q10) is an essential element for many daily functions and is required by every single cell in the body. As an antioxidant that protects cells from the effects of aging, CoQ10 has been used in medicine practices for decades, especially in the case of treating heart problems.
Still today, one of the most common and thoroughly researched uses of CoQ10 is helping protect the heart and blood vessels from the damaging effects of oxidative stress (also called free radical damage. Many consumers turn to CoQ10 supplements to help manage health conditions, including heart arrhythmia, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis and congestive heart failure.
Research shows that patients with other inflammatory health conditions, such as breast cancer, diabetes, viruses and infertility, may also find these supplements helpful for both prevention of complications and treatment of symptoms.
The name may not sound very natural, but CoQ10 is in fact an essential nutrient that works like an antioxidant in the body. In its active form, it’s called ubiquinone or ubiquinol. It’s synthesized within the body naturally and used for important functions, such as supplying cells with energy, transporting electrons and regulating blood pressure levels. The reason it’s not considered to be a “vitamin” is because all animals, including humans, can make small amounts of coenzymes on their own even without the help of food.
How CoQ10 Works:
- To sustain enough energy to perform bodily functions, inside our cells tiny organelles called mitochondria take fat and other nutrients and turn them into usable sources of energy. This conversion process requires the presence of CoQ10.
- As "co-enzyme", CoQ10 also helps other enzymes work to digest food properly
- CoQ10 is not only necessary for producing cellular energy, but also for defending cells from damage caused by harmful free radicals and pharmaceuticals. See our charts in the section "Drug Induced Nutrient Depletion"
- CoQ10 can exist in three different oxidation states and the ability in some forms to accept and donate electrons is a critical feature in its biochemical function that cancel out free radical damage.
- As a powerful antioxidant, Coq10 can increase absorption of other essential nutrients. It has been shown that it helps recycle vitamin C and vitamin E, further maximising the effects of vitamins and antioxidants that are already at work in the body.
- Although the body has the ability to make some coq10 on its own, production naturally declines as we age - just when we need our cells to help defend us the most. This means we can all benefit from consuming more CoQ10, both naturally from our diets and IF you have been or ARE on statins, by taking a high-quality supplement.
Who Needs CoQ10?
According to work done by Oregon State University, natural synthesis of CoQ10, plus dietary intake, appears to provide sufficient amounts to help prevent deficiency in healthy people — however as explained above, the body produces less CoQ10 as someone gets older. The natural ability to convert CoQ10 into its active form called ubiquinol declines during the aging process. This decline is most apparent in people over the age of 40, particularly those taking statin drugs. It’s also been found that people with diabetes, cancer and congestive heart failure tend to have decreased plasma levels of coenzyme Q10. For these reasons, CoQ10 is recommended most for people with heart problems.
This can include anyone suffering from:
- A history of heart attacks or coronary heart disease
- High cholesterol, especially when taking statin drugs!
- High blood pressure
- Mitral valve prolapse
In addition to supporting a healthy cardiovascular system, CoQ10 has also been found to have the following benefits:
- Helps lower fatigue and boosts stamina
- defends against free radicals and typical signs of aging, including muscle loss and skin changes
- Restores the power of anti-oxidnats, including Vitamins E and C
- Stabilises blood sugar
- Supports healthy gums
- Reduces muscular dystrophy
- Helps treat cognitive disorders, including Parkinson's Disease and Alzheimer's
- Results in metabolic improvement in patients with hereditary mitochondrial disorders
- May be able to help treat other conditions, including cancer, hormone imbalances, diabetes, viruses and infections.
Benefits of CoQ10
1. Sustains Natural Energy
CoQ10 plays a role in “mitochondrial ATP synthesis,” which is the conversion of raw energy from foods (carbohydrates and fats) into the form of energy that our cells use called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This conversion process requires the presence of coenzyme Q in the inner mitochondrial membrane. One of its roles is to accept electrons during fatty acid and glucose metabolism and then transfer them to electron acceptors. (3) The process of making ATP has many benefits, from preserving muscle mass to helping regulate appetite and body weight.
2. Reduces Free Radical Damage
Oxidative damage (or free radical damage) of cell structures plays an important role in the functional declines that accompany aging and cause disease. As a fat-soluble antioxidant, CoQ10 has been found to inhibit lipid peroxidation, which occurs when cell membranes and low-density lipoproteins are exposed to oxidizing conditions that enter from outside the body.
In fact, when LDL is oxidized, CoQ10 is one of the first antioxidants consumed to help offset the effects. Within mitochondria, coenzyme Q10 has been found to protect membrane proteins and DNA from the oxidative damage that accompanies lipid peroxidation and neutralize free radicals directly that contribute to nearly all age-related diseases (heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc.).
3. Can Improve Heart Health and Offset Effects of Statin Drugs
Although experts feel that additional well-controlled clinical trials are still needed to prove its effects, CoQ10 has strong potential for prevention and treatment of heart ailments by improving cellular bioenergetics, acting as an antioxidant and boosting free radical-scavenging abilities. A 2015 report published in Frontiers in Bioscience referenced earlier stated that “CoQ10 deficiencies are due to autosomal recessive mutations, mitochondrial diseases, aging-related oxidative stress and carcinogenesis processes, and also a secondary effect of statin treatment.”
What we do know is that CoQ10 supplementation seems to be useful for those taking statins, since it lowers side effects that they often cause. Statins are used to reduce an enzyme in the liver that not only decreases the production of cholesterol, but also further lowers the natural production of CoQ10. It’s now widely accepted that CoQ10 can interact with lipid lowering medications that inhibit the activity of HMG-CoA reductase, a critical enzyme in both cholesterol and coenzyme Q10 biosynthesis. A supplement of CoQ10 is therefore essential to restore natural levels to their optimum and counter the effects of statin drugs. For more information on Statins and Cholesterol visit these pages.
4. Slows Down Effects of Aging
Mitochondrial ATP synthesis is an important function for maintaining a fast metabolism, strength of muscles, strong bones, youthful skin and healthy tissue. Tissue levels of coenzyme Q10 have been reported to decline with age, and this is believed to contribute to declines in energy metabolism and degeneration of organs, such as the liver and heart, and skeletal muscle. Although supplementing with CoQ10 has not been shown to increase the life span of animals that have been tested with it, researchers believe it can slow down the age-related increase in DNA damage that naturally affect us all. More research is still needed to draw conclusions, but possible anti-aging benefits of consuming more CoQ10 include decreased muscle loss, less signs of skin damage, and protection from bone or joint injuries.
Best Ways to Increase CoQ10 Naturally: CoQ10-Rich Foods
CoQ10 is found naturally in our diets from foods, including fish, liver, kidney and the germs of whole grain. The richest natural sources of dietary coenzyme Q10 are meat, poultry and fish, but vegetarian options, such as beans, nuts, some vegetables, eggs and dairy products, are also helpful for increasing your intake.
For recommendations on food that supply CoQ10 visit this page.
Adapted from an article by Dr. Axe, to read the complete article visit his website here