Coenzyme Q10 is a natural substance found in abudance in cells of the body that provides energy to the body and helps the immune system. CoQ10 also acts as an antioxidant in the body. Antioxidants are substances that attack and remove free radicals, dangerous substances which cause damage to cells and can eventually result in cancer, aging or cell death. CoQ10 protect cells from stress from environmental toxins (e.g. cigarette smoke) or aging. It is in this way that Coenzyme Q10 is believed to help the body fight cancer, prevent heart disease, and combat aging.
CoQ10 is found in mitochondria, the parts of cells that generate energy. CoQ10 is involved in the generation of energy called adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in cells. ATP is the energy currency that allows cells to carry out all their myriad functions, including muscle contraction, protein synthesis and other vital cell functions.
Two forms of CoQ10 exist. The more common form is called ubiquinone. The active or oxidized form of CoQ10 is called ubiquinol. Young people convert ubiquinone to the active component ubiquinol quite readily. However, ubiquinone is less easily converted to ubiquinol as people get older. Until recently, ubiquinol was unstable and could not be manufactured as a supplement. Now ubiquinol is available, but is typically more expensive than the ubiquinone form.
CoQ10 are found in large numbers in the power centers of the body, the liver and heart. In the liver, CoQ10 is made in a pathway similar to the way cholesterol is made. So when a person is on a statin, which inhibits an important enzyme that makes cholesterol, the CoQ10 pathway is also impaired. It is believed that two important classes of medications, the statins (simvastatin, atorvastatin, pravastatin, lovastatin) and beta blockers (atenolol, metoprolol) decrease (up to 40 %) the production of CoQ10 in the body.
Eating antioxidants in Super Foods such as pomegranate juice is a good way to replenish CoQ10 in the body. Some experts feel that older patients on statins or beta blockers should take CoQ10 supplements to replace the reduced levels of CoQ10 in cells. Some experts feel that people who have high blood pressure should consider supplementation with CoQ10 as well as Vitamin D3. Athletes (and wannabe athletes) may want to consider adding CoQ10 supplementation to optimized exercise endurance and muscle recovery.
Last updated March 19, 2010 by Dr. Vee