What is CoQ10 and why do we need it?

Coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant made by the body, found in some foods, and available as a supplement. In general, coenzymes support enzymes in their various biochemical functions. CoQ10 is needed for the chain of metabolic chemical reactions that generate energy within cells. It is found in every cell of the body, but is present in higher concentrations in organs with higher energy requirements such as the kidneys, liver, and heart.

Many medical studies demonstrate supplemental CoQ10’s beneficial effects, most of which stem from its vital role in oxygen utilization and energy production.

As many of you know, I am a big fan of getting our nutrients from real foods rather than from supplements. CoQ10 and Vitamin D are the exceptions. Most of us do not take in enough of this nutrient from our diet; the average American gets 10 mg per day. Some food sources of CoQ10 are oily fish such as salmon and tuna and organ meats. I believe that every adult should supplement with 90-120 mg of soft-gel ubiquinol (which has greater antioxidant efficiency than the ubiquinone form). It is fat-soluble, so take it with food containing some fat.

It is especially important for people who are taking statins and women who take birth control pills to supplement with CoQ10.  Statins not only reduce cholesterol levels,  they also block CoQ10 synthesis in the body. Oral contraceptives greatly deplete the body of CoQ10 (as well as many other essential nutrients).

Since this enzyme is found in high concentration in heart muscle cells, deficiency has been associated with cardiovascular problems including angina, arrhythmia, heart failure and high blood pressure.

Furthermore, patients diagnosed with cancer often exhibit low levels of CoQ10.

Research has shown that CoQ10 may be useful for:

  • Preventing the onset of migraine
  • Slowing early macular degeneration
  • Improving immune response
  • Preventing hearing loss
  • When combined with vitamin E helping prevent age-related deficits in cognitive function
  • Assisting muscle regeneration
  • Promoting male fertility (increasing sperm count and motility)
  • Lowering triglycerides
  • Decreasing the cardiotoxicity caused by anthracyclines (common anti-cancer chemo)
  • Preventing and treating inflamed gums
  • Regulating blood sugar

Currently there are studies underway looking at the effects of CoQ10 in slowing neurodegenerative disease progression. Diseases being researched include Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinsons disease, and Huntington’s disease.