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The Wonder of CoQ10

Posted by Gerhard Fourie on

Written on the 16 April 2013

What it is
Coenzyme Q10, is also known as ubiquinone, ubidecarenone, coenzyme Q, and can be abbreviated to CoQ10. It was first discovered by Professor Fredrick L. Crane and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin–Madison Enzyme Institute in 1957,[1] and much research on it has been done since then in relation to various diseases, including cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

This vitamin-like substance, which is oil-soluble, is found in most eukaryotic cells. A eukaryote is an organism whose cells contain complex structures enclosed within membranes. One such complex structure is the mitochondrion, where the highest concentration of CoQ10 is found in the inner membrane. CoQ10 is a component of the electron transport chain and participates in aerobic cellular respiration, generating energy in the form of a substance called ATP. Ninety-five percent of the human body’s energy is generated this way.[2][3]

There are three redox states of CoQ10: fully oxidized (ubiquinone), semiquinone (ubisemiquinone) and fully reduced (ubiquinol).

What it does
The capability of this molecule to exist in a completely oxidized form as well as in a completely reduced form enables it to perform its functions in the electron transport chain, and as an antioxidant, respectively.

The function of CoQ10 in the electron transport chain cannot be done by any other molecule, thus CoQ10 operates in every cell of the body to synthesize energy. The function of CoQ10 as an energy carrier, results in CoQ10 also becoming an antioxidant.

This in turn regenerates other antioxidants such as vitamin E, prevents oxidation of LDL (“bad” cholesterol) and protects the mitochondrial DNA., all of which are good for your health.[4]

Oxygen free radicals are oxidants that are produced normally in the body during metabolism and also under various stress conditions. They are called free radicals because they can combine easily with other substances to damage cell membranes and lead to significant pathology and diseases. As an antioxidant CoQ10 protects against low oxygen states which results in large amounts of free radical formation and reduce oxidative distress that often results from surgery.[5]

Why CoQ10 might be for you
It has been found that ageing, various diseases or their treatments, nutrient deficiencies and even certain sport activities may increase the need for CoQ10.

CoQ10 has been studied, recommended, prescribed and used for:[6][7][8][9][10][11]

  • Heart health and Cardiac arrest
  • Sports performance
  • Migraine headaches
  • Cancer and support from treatment effects
  • Blood pressure
  • Periodontal disease
  • Radiation injury
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Cosmetics ingredients
  • Obesity
  • Hearing disorders
  • Muscular wasting diseases
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Asthma
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Cocaine dependence
  • Gum disease (periodontitis)
  • As a supplement for patients using statins (cholesterol lowering medication)
  • And many more disorders.

CoQ10 is Essential if You use Statin Medication[11]
Statin medication, used to lower cholesterol, typically works by reducing an enzyme in your liver, which not only reduces the production of cholesterol, but it also reduces the production of CoQ10. Lowering the production of CoQ10 increases the risk of exposure to a variety of different health problems.

Premature aging is one primary side effect of having too little CoQ10, because this essential vitamin recycles other antioxidants, such as vitamin C and E.

CoQ10 deficiency also accelerates DNA damage, and because CoQ10 is beneficial to heart health and muscle function, this depletion leads to fatigue, muscle weakness, soreness and eventually heart failure. It is therefore absolutely vital to supplement with CoQ10 if a patient is taking any statins.

Ubiquinol is the fully reduced state of CoQ10, and thus ideal for its role as an anti-oxidant, with the consequent benefits for a healthy body

Ubiquinol is acquired through biosynthesis,[12] supplementation, and in small amounts from diet. Biosynthesis is the process in which a product is formed inside a cell. If this process is hindered or the production of Ubiquinol is insufficient for the demand, the shortage of Ubiquinol will result in health concerns. As the amounts from food intake may, for various reasons, be insufficient to compensate for the shortage of Ubiquinol, it may be recommended that the person supplement his/her diet with an external source of Ubiquinol.

Ubiquinol, it is accepted, may be indicated for supplementation such as described for CoQ10 above, but in addition it is alsomentioned to have benefits for:

  • Positive Cardiovascular effects[13][14]
  • Ageing[15]
  • Renal health[16]
  • Male infertility[17]

Bioavailability of Ubiquinol
CoQ10 is not well absorbed into the body.[18] The molecular structure of the ubiquinol form though causes an increase in the polarity of the CoQ10 molecule, and may be a significant factor behind the observed enhanced bioavailability of ubiquinol.

How safe is CoQ10?
There are few serious reported side effects of CoQ10.[20] Side effects are typically mild and brief, stopping without any treatment needed.

It has been reported that CoQ10 may lower blood sugar levels and may decrease blood pressure. There is not enough scientific evidence to support the safe use of CoQ10 during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

It is always recommended that individuals, who wish to use supplements, consult with their physician prior to taking them.

More pros than Cons
CoQ10 has been well studied and there is substantial information available on the effects of administrating CoQ10 as a supplement. The efficacy in treatment and treatment support of various diseases are also well documented.

Advocates of naturopathy and alternative medicines will readily support the use of CoQ10 for specific health conditions.

REFERENCES and suggested Further Reading
1. Crane, F; Hatefi, Y; Lester, R; Widmer, C (1957). "Isolation of a quinone from beef heart mitochondria". Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 25 (1):220–1. doi:10.1016/0006-3002(57)90457-2. PMID 13445756.
2. Ernster, L; Dallner, G (1995). "Biochemical, physiological and medical aspects of ubiquinone function". Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 1271 (1): 195–204. PMID 7599208.
3. Dutton, PL; Ohnishi, T; Darrouzet, E; Leonard, MA; Sharp, RE; Cibney, BR; Daldal, F; Moser, CC (2000). "4 Coenzyme Q oxidation reduction reactions in mitochondrial electron transport". In Kagan, VE; Quinn, PJ. Coenzyme Q: Molecular mechanisms in health and disease. Boca Raton: CRC Press. pp. 65–82.
13. Langsjoen PH, Langsjoen AM (2008). "Supplemental ubiquinol in patients with advanced congestive heart failure". BioFactors 32 (1-4): 119–28. PMID 19096107
14. Langsjeon, P, et al. Supplemental Ubiquinol in congestive heart failure - 3 year experience. Sixth Conference of the International Coenzyme Q10 Association, Brussels, Belgium. May 27-30th, 2010
15. Shimizu, K, et al. Collaborative research with Waseda University and Tsukuba University. The 21st Annual Meeting of Japanese Society of Clinical Sports Medicine. Tsukuba International Congress Center, Tsukuba, Ibraki Prefecture, Japan. November 6th and 7th, 2010
16. Ishikawa A, Kawarazaki H, Ando K, Fujita M, Fujita T, Homma shikawa A, Kawarazaki H, Ando K, Fujita M, Fujita T, Homma Y (February 2011). "Renal preservation effect of ubiquinol, the reduced form of coenzyme Q10". Clin. Exp. Nephrol. 15 (1): 30–3. doi:10.1007/s10157-010-0350-8. PMID 20878200.
17. Safarinejad MR, Safarinejad S , Shafiei N,and Safarinejad S (2012). "Effects of the Reduced Form of Coenzyme Q10 (Ubiquinol) on Semen Parameters in Men with Idiopathic Infertility: a Double-Blind, Placebo Controlled, Randomized Study". The Journal of Urology 188 (2): 526–531. PMID 22704112.
18. James AM, Cochemé HM, Smith RA, Murphy MP (June 2005). "Interactions of mitochondria-targeted and untargeted ubiquinones with the mitochondrial respiratory chain and reactive oxygen species. Implications for the use of exogenous ubiquinones as therapies and experimental tools". J. Biol. Chem. 280 (22): 21295–312. doi:10.1074/jbc.M501527200. PMID 15788391.
19. Hosoe K, Kitano M, Kishida H, Kubo H, Fujii K, Kitahara M (February 2007). "Study on safety and bioavailability of ubiquinol (Kaneka QH) after single and 4-week multiple oral administration to healthy volunteers". Regul. Toxicol. Pharmacol. 47 (1): 19–28. doi:10.1016/j.yrtph.2006.07.001. PMID 16919858.

Always read the label on any medication and use only as directed. Vitamin and other supplements should not replace a balanced diet, unless so instructed by your medical practitioner. If symptoms persist, seek further health advice. The information presented above is not intended to replace the advice of your medical practitioner.


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