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.

 

References:

Ernster, L; Dallner, G (1995). “Biochemical, physiological and medical aspects of ubiquinone function”. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 1271 (1): 195–204.

Coles, S., & Harris, S. B.  Co-enzyme Q-10 and life extension.  In:  Advances in Anti-Aging Medicine.  Volume 1.  Dr. Ronald M. Klatz (editor), 1996.

Ishii, N., et al.  Coenzyme Q(10) can prolong C. elegans lifespan by lowering oxidative stress.  Mech Ageing Dev.  125(1):41-46, 2004.

Mortensen, S. A., et al.  Coenzyme Q10:  Clinical benefits with biochemical correlates suggesting a scientific breakthrough in the management of chronic heart failure.  Int J Tissue React.  12(3):155-162, 1990.

Chapidze, G., et al.  Prevention of coronary atherosclerosis by the use of combination therapy with antioxidant coenzyme Q10 and statins.  Georgian Med News.  1:20-25, 2005.

Folkers, K., et al.  Biochemical rationale and myocardial tissue data on the effective therapy of cardiomyopathy with coenzyme Q10.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  82:901, 1985.

Belardinelli, R., et al.  Coenzyme Q_{10} improves contractility of dysfunctional myocardium in chronic heart failure.  Biofactors.  25(1-4):137-145, 2005.

Baggio, E., et al.  Italian multicenter study on the safety and efficacy of coenzyme Q10 as adjunctive therapy in heart failure.  CoQ10 Drug Surveillance Investigators.  Mol Aspects Med.  15(Supplement):S287-S294, 1994.

Littaru, G. P., et al.  Deficiency of coenzyme Q10 in human heart disease, part II.  Int J Vit Nutr Res.  42:413, 1972.

Mortensen, S. A.  Perspectives on therapy of cardiovascular diseases with coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinone).  Clinical Investigator.  71:S116-S123, 1993.

Burke, B. E., et al.  Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of coenzyme Q10 in isolated systolic hypertension.  South Med J.  94(11):1112-1117, 2001.

Oda, T.  Q10 therapy on the cardiac dysfunction in patients with mitral valve prolapse:  dose vs effect and dose vs serum Q10.  Biomed and Clin Aspects of CoQ10.  5:269-280, 1986.

Ram, B., et al.  Randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial of coenzyme Q10 in chronic renal failure:  discovery of a new role.  Journal of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine.  10(4):281-288, 2000.

Blasi, M. A., et al.  Does coenzyme Q10 play a role in opposing oxidative stress in patients with age-related macular degeneration?  Ophthalmologica.  215(1):51-54, 2001.

Folkers, K., et al.  The activities of coenzyme Q10 and vitamin B6 for immune response.  Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications.  193(1):88-92, 1993.

Folkers, K., et al.  Survival of cancer patients on therapy with coenzyme Q10.  Biochem Biophys Res Commun.  192(1):241-245, 1993.

Teitelbaum, J.  Effective treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome.  Integrative Medicine.  4(4):23-29, 2005.

Hansen, I. L., et al.  Bioenergetics in clinical medicine, IX.  Gingival and leukocytic deficiencies of coenzyme Q10 in patients with periodontal disease.  Res Commun Chem Pathol Pharmacol.  14(4):729, 1976.

Hanioka, T., et al.  Effect of topical applications of coenzyme Q10 on adult periodontitis.  Mol Aspects Med.  15(Supplement):S241-S248, 1994.

Shults, C. W., et al.  Absorption, tolerability, and effect on mitochondrial activity of oral coenzyme Q10 in parkinsonian patients.  Neurology.  50(3):793-795, 1998.

Imigawa, M., et al.  Coenzyme Q10, iron, and vitamin B6 in genetically-confirmed Alzheimer’s disease [letter].  Lancet.  340(8820):671, 1992.

Balercia, G., et al.  Coenzyme Q10 levels in idiopathic and varicocele-associated asthenozoospermia.  Andrologia.  34(2):107-111, 2002.

Latt, T., et al.  Stimulation of skin’s energy metabolism provides multiple benefits for mature human skin.  Biofactors.  25(1-4):179-185, 2005.

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