CoQ10, What’s the Hype?

In a related article titled:  “Antioxidants”, I briefly described the significance of antioxidants and the role they can play in preventing against inflammation and aging.  The article briefly explains how the progression of aging can occur and be defined quite simply as biochemical inefficiency (the inefficiency and/or inability of molecular reactions to occur within a cell, at a rate that would allow the cell to function with ease and thus, maintain homeostasis and health).  In that article, CoQ10 was mentioned as one of those important antioxidants, as it generously gives up electrons, regenerating other antioxidant molecules (such as Vitamin E) and protecting your cell’s lipids and proteins from free radical damage.  Besides acting directly as an antioxidant and working synergistically with other antioxidants, CoQ10 does something else that is absolutely essential for the healthy functioning of your body’s cells.  CoQ10, also known as ubiquinone or Ubiquinol (the more prevalent form of CoQ10 found in the body) is an essential component of the cell’s energy producing pathway known as aerobic respiration.  It’s estimated that this pathway of energy (ATP) production is responsible for around 95% of the body’s total energy production.  Furthermore, it is the adequate levels of energy needed to be produced in order for the thousands of biochemical reactions to be able to take place within our cells so that these cells, of the various tissues and organs of our body, can function optimally.

CoQ10 is a “hard worker”, located within your cell’s energy-producing “factories” (known as the mitochondria), as it zips back and forth, functioning as an electron-transferring molecule.  Because CoQ10 carries out some very important roles in energy production this nutrient is found in higher concentrations within the more metabolically active tissues and organs of the body (such as the brain, heart, kidney and liver).  CoQ10 has been shown to help slow the aging process by protecting the body’s cells and DNA from free radical damage. It has also been shown to help improve the functioning of the cardiovascular system in those affected with such conditions as cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, ischemic heart disease, hypertension, mitral valve prolapse and other cardiovascular diseases.  Because of the widespread biological effects related to CoQ10 numerous studies have been carried out on this nutrient, with most showing a strong correlation between adequate levels of CoQ10 and health.  According to other studies CoQ10 may be helpful in; improving energy levels, improving the functioning of the immune system, improving memory and cognition, and preventing against or alleviating symptoms associated with migraine headaches, noise-induced hearing loss, chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic kidney failure, age-related macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, periodontal disease, psoriasis and even infertility.  Listed below are references to these studies.  It should be noted that there are many more studies correlated with CoQ10 and other health conditions, but it would be beyond the scope of this article to cover them all.

Although CoQ10 can be found in certain foods (such as nuts, oils, cruciferous and nightshade vegetables, fish and organ meats) it is a sensitive compound and is easily destroyed by light and the heat generated by cooking.  Most of the body’s CoQ10 is manufactured within the cells of the body.  However, there are a couple of things to take into consideration when it comes to the endogenous production of CoQ10.

  • Studies have revealed that elderly people only have around 50% of the levels of CoQ10 to that of younger people.
  • Endogenous production of CoQ10 seems to begin declining around the age of 20 and continues to decline in tandem with the aging process.
  • Since the manufacturing of CoQ10 is a multi-step process involving a number of enzymes there are many factors that can affect the ability of how efficient your body’s cells can manufacture CoQ10. The presence of certain nutrients (i.e. Tyrosine, Selenium, tetrahydrobiopterin, biotin, Vitamins B3, B5, B6, B9, B12 and vitamin C), are necessary to serve as either precursors or co-factors to enzymes involved in the production of CoQ10.
  • Besides a deficiency of any of the nutrients needed in the production of CoQ10, there are also factors that can interfere with the endogenous production or contribute to the depletion of the body’s CoQ10 levels. (i.e. Statin drugs, Beta-Blockers, Phenothiazines, Thiazides, Tricyclic anti-depressants,  Red Yeast Rice extract or any other HMG-CoA Reductase inhibitors, the presence of candida overgrowth in the gut).

When considering supplementing additional CoQ10, one should first contact their physician to make sure there are no possible interactions or any adverse events that could be associated with the supplementation of this nutrient and any pre-existing medical conditions or use of pharmaceutical medications.



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