Coenzyme Q10 is a naturally occurring compound found in every cell in the body. Other names for it include Co Q10, Ubiquinone and Vitamin Q.
Dr Frederick Crane of Wisconsin, USA, first identified Co Q10 in 1957 but it wasn't until the mid 1970's that the Japanese perfected the technology to produce pure Co Q10 in quantities sufficient for large clinical trials.
Over the past few years there has been a huge increase in the public interest and awareness of nutritional supplements and I hope this page will answer some of your questions.
What is CoQ10?
It is a fat-soluble vitamin-like substance that is present in every cell in the body and plays a key role in production of energy in the cell. It also acts as an anti-oxidant and free radical scavenger. Small amounts are found naturally in a variety of foods especially heart, liver kidney, soy oil, oily fish and peanuts. To put dietary intake into perspective one pound of sardines would provide 30 mg of Co Q10. Fortunately it is also synthesised in the body and normal blood and tissue levels can be measured.
Significantly low levels of CoQ10 have been noted in a wide variety of diseases. Deficiencies can result from poor dietary intake, impairment in the biosynthesis of CoQ10, excessive utilisation of CoQ10 by the body or a combination of all three.
Heart disease and CoQ10
CoQ10 is known to be highly concentrated in heart muscle cells due to the high-energy requirements of this cell type.
Congestive heart failure (from a variety of causes) is strongly correlated with low blood and tissue levels of CoQ10. The CoQ10 deficiency may be cause or effect, no one is really sure but whether primary or secondary it is a treatable factor. When CoQ10 is given along with the standard treatments for heart failure, heart function shows a gradual and sustained improvement and the patients symptoms decrease.
To date there have been 10 major controlled studies worldwide on the treatment of heart disease with CoQ10 and all have confirmed its effectiveness as well as it's safety.
Another notable effect of CoQ10 is that patients with essential hypertension (high blood pressure) can reduce their anti-hypertensive medication at an average of 4 months after starting CoQ10 treatment.
You may wonder why, if CoQ10 is so effective in the treatment of heart failure, it is not used more generally and unfortunately the answer is political and economical.
Quite simply CoQ10 is a natural substance; the pharmaceutical industry has no hand in it and has no interest in promoting its benefits.
CoQ10 and other diseases
Since CoQ10 is essential to the optimal function of all cell types it is not surprising to find a number of disease states, which respond well to CoQ10 supplementation.
CoQ10 supplementation, with close monitoring of the plasma levels, may be as important as adequate hydration in the treatment of critically ill patients and should not be overlooked.
The antioxidant properties of CoQ10 greatly reduce oxidative damage to tissues as well as significantly inhibiting the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. This has implications in the treatment of ischaemia and potential for slowing the development of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
There have been claims that CoQ10 can boost the immune system, helping to prevent the spread of cancer and it has also been recommended for a host of additional disorders ranging from diabetes, allergies, and fatigue to Alzheimer's disease, Bell's palsy, Huntington's disease, Ménière's disease, muscular dystrophy, and deterioration of the retina. There is no conclusive clinical evidence, however, to support its use for these conditions.
There is hard evidence that humans show a gradual decline in CoQ10 levels after the age of twenty; in keeping with the free radical theory of aging the antioxidant properties of CoQ10 have clear implications in the slowing of aging and age related degenerative diseases.
Should a reasonably healthy person take CoQ10 to stay healthy? I don't think anyone knows the answer for sure at this point but as we are living longer I believe it is prudent to take a daily supplement.
All published data on the daily dose of CoQ10 relates to the treatment of disease states and there is no information on the use of CoQ10 for prevention of illness so the dose is anyone's guess but 30 mg daily seems a reasonable start.
CoQ10 is fat-soluble and absorption is increased when it is taken with a food containing fat.
CoQ10 has structural similarities to vitamin K and should be used with care in those taking anti-coagulant medication.