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Vitamin :: CoQ10

Coenzyme Q10 | CoQ10

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Other Terms:

CoQ10 | Q10 | Vitamin Q10 | Ubiquinone


Coenzyme Q10 is naturally fat soluble, but there are forms labeled Q-Gel or hydrosoluble, which are water soluble and more easily absorbed.

On this Page: What is CoQ10 · Benefits · Deficiency Signs · Foods · Supplements · RDA · Toxicity | Overdose

What is CoQ10 ?
CoQ10, or coenzyme Q10 is a highly beneficial vitamin-like substance that is present in almost all plant, animal, and human cells, which is why it is also known as ubiquinone.  It is not considered a vitamin, however, as it can be made in the body.

The highest amounts of CoQ10 are found in the heart, kidneys, liver, and pancreas, which accounts for organ meats being its richest source.

CoQ10 is well-established as a powerful antioxidant that protects against free radical damage to cells and DNA.  Damage to DNA is linked to cancer, so in protecting against DNA damage, antioxidants help protect the body against cancer.  Studies have shown up to 95% drop in cell membrane damage after CoQ10 supplementation.

It is prescribed as a heart drug in Japan, and widely used in Europe for its many health benefits.  CoQ10 supplements have been reported to extend the lifespans and well-being of AIDs patients.  A patent on its use in AIDs treatment has been taken out.

Since its discovery in 1957, more than 5,000 research studies have been carried out, and CoQ10 benefits are well documented in medical journals.

How CoQ10 Benefits Health
CoQ10, like the vitamins, acts as a coenzyme in enabling vital biochemical processes in the body.  Its specific role is to produce ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate), a substance required for all energy production in cells.  In certain parts of the body like the heart, this production of usable energy is central to life itself.

Its protective antioxidant properties also make CoQ10 especially important to the health of the heart and blood vessels. Clinical trials since the 1980's into the use of CoQ10 as treatment for heart disease and cardiomyopathy, a form of progressive heart failure, have shown astounding results.

A high proportion of the patients, many of whom were expected to die of heart disease, rebounded or reported significant improvement.  Some even returned to an active lifestyle.  The doses used ranged from 50 to 150 mg.

These days, CoQ10 is used for many types of heart-related conditions, to protect heart muscles from oxidative stress.  The conditions include heart attack, angina, arrhythmia, atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, and mitral valve prolapse.

The cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, such as lovastatin, pravastatin, and simvastatin, given to lessen risk of heart disease, also lower CoQ10 levels in the body.  Because of this, many health practitioners recommend that patients on cholesterol-lowering drugs take CoQ10 supplements as well.

Since 1961 when it was found that cancer patients had less than normal levels of CoQ10, there has been interest in its use for cancer treatment.

CoQ10 helps the immune system to work better, and in so doing, helps to prevent cancer.  Certain CoQ10 drugs also prevent the growth of cancer cells.  For this reason, and its protective antioxidant function, it is used as adjuvant therapy for cancer.  (Adjuvant therapy is given after standard treatment has been carried out, to improve chances of a cure.)

A few small studies using CoQ10 as an adjuvant therapy on breast cancer patients showed encouraging results.  Some patients who were given high CoQ10 doses showed complete remission.  All the subjects had improved quality of life, less pain, and did not suffer weight loss.

It must be noted however, that these patients took other supplements as well that included essential fatty acids and the other antioxidant vitamins.

Clinical trials show that coenzyme Q10 decreases the harmful side effects on the heart of doxorubicin, the anthracycline drug used to treat cancer.

This list summarizes the many ways Coq10 benefits the body.

:: Coenzyme Q10 Benefits & Functions
1. vital to make energy needed for cells to grow normally and stay healthy, and for the basic functioning of every cell
2. powerful antioxidant
3. vital for effectiveness of the immune system and anti-aging
4. works with, and protects vitamin E in the body from damage
5. helps cancer prevention and treatment, and lowers rate of recurrence, due to antioxidant activity and ability to boost the immune system
6. may reduce side effects of chemotherapy
7. some data supports its use in treatment of kidney or renal failure
8. may lower and stabilize blood sugar
9. studies of muscular dystrophy patients on CoQ10 supplementation show improved heart function, mobility, and quality of life
10. widely used for heart-related conditions such as clogged heart arteries, mitral valve prolapse, heart attack, angina, arrhythmia, and congestive heart failure, to protect against oxidative damage and so prevent cardiovascular disease
11. may help improve heart function after major heart surgery when given to the patients before and during surgery
12. research indicates that it lowers high blood pressure (hypertension)
13. reduces many adverse side effects of the beta blocker prescription drugs used in treatment of high blood pressure
14. reduces adverse effects of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs
15. CoQ10 supplements have shown promise in treating anomalies of brain function related to schizophrenia and Alzheimer's (but not curing it)
16. promising results have been seen when used for Parkinson's disease
17. evidence that it alleviates or prevents migraine
18. initial studies show may relieve symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome
19. anti-histaminine abilities helps it to alleviate allergies and asthma
20. early research shows promise in treatment of periodontal (gum) disease
21. protects the stomach lining, and may help prevent and heal stomach (gastric) and duodenal ulcers
22. may relieve candidiasis (yeast infection or thrush)
23. initial evidence that CoQ10 helps increase sperm count and motility
24. has shown promising results in enhancing the well-being and life span of AIDS patients by boosting their immunity (CoQ10 levels appear to be low in those with HIV)


CoQ10 Deficiency Symptoms and Causes
Although coenzyme Q10 can be made in the body, the amount may not be enough, and deficiency can occur.  This can be due to insufficient intake in the diet, or to problems synthesizing CoQ10 because of some disorder in the body, or to a health condition that increases the amount needed.

For instance studies of people with cancer, HIV/AIDS, muscular dystrophy, heart-related problems, and Parkinson's, routinely show CoQ10 deficiency.

CoQ10 is present in many foods, but not in significant amounts apart from organ meats.  This means a "heart-healthy" diet free of red meats could actually lead to lower coenzyme Q10 levels, which is ironic considering its importance to heart health.

The body might not be able to make up the difference needed, as many people are short of the basic vitamins and elements required to synthesize enough coenzyme Q10 for optimal health.

Older people in general need more CoQ10 intake, as the level in the body tends to decline with age.  CoQ10 deficiency is common in people in their 40s and older.  Some prescription drugs and herbs, such as for lowering cholesterol or blood sugar, may also decrease CoQ10 levels.

Depending on the reason for the deficiency, increasing intake through the diet or supplements may help.

CoQ10 deficiency can worsen or cause many health problems.  The heart requires large amounts of ATP to function well.  Any deficiency of CoQ10 seriously affects it, and has been clearly linked to a wide range of heart conditions such as angina, arrhythmia, and high blood pressure.

:: Coenzyme Q10 Deficiency Symptoms
1. gum or periodontal disease
2. low coQ10 levels have been found in people with high blood pressure
3. arteriosclerosis / atherosclerosis (hardening / narrowing of the arteries)
4. heart problems like angina, arrhythmia, congestive heart failure
5. stomach (gastric) or duodenal ulcers
6. high blood sugar
7. kidney or renal failure
8. weak immune system leading to susceptibility to infections
9. low coQ10 levels have been found in patients with cancers of the head, neck, lung, breast, pancreas, kidney, prostate, colon,white blood cells (myeloma) and immune system (lymphoma)


CoQ10 Foods
Some coenzyme Q10 is made in the body, but most of it has to come from the diet. As a rough guide, average dietary intake in Denmark is estimated to be between 3 to 5 mg per day.

Much of the coQ10 content in food is lost in processing such as canning, milling, preserving, freezing, or overcooking.  Boiling has little impact, but frying can deplete it by as much as 30%.

Even the way the food is produced has an effect on coQ10 content.  For example, the meats of wild grass-fed animals, especially the organ meats, have up to 10 times as much coQ10 as that in grain-fed animals.

High coenzyme Q10 foods · organ meats like heart, kidney, liver · migratory fish like herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines.

Other coenzyme Q10 food sources · germ part of whole grains, eg. wheat germ · broccoli · spinach · vegetable oils like soybean, sesame, rapeseed oils.


CoQ10 Supplements
Taking vitamins and minerals in their correct balance is vital to the proper functioning of all vitamins.  They work synergistically, which means that the effectiveness of any one nutrient requires or is enhanced, sometimes dramatically, by the presence of certain other nutrients.

For this reason, if you are looking to take supplements for maintenance of optimal health, the recommended approach is to take a multi-vitamin that has the proper balance of all the necessary nutrients your body needs.

For a list of reputable top ranked vitamin and mineral supplements chosen in an independent supplement review, see Best Multivitamin Supplements. Many of these are manufactured to pharmaceutical or nutraceutical GMP compliance, which is the highest multivitamin standard possible.

Keep in mind, however, that while vitamin supplements are useful to plug nutritional gaps that are almost inevitable in modern diets, and to ensure we get optimal doses of nutrients, they are no substitute for a good diet. Instead, use them to complement a healthy diet and lifestyle.


CoQ10 RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance)
There is no official RDA for CoQ10 which is not recognized as a vitamin.  It is also difficult to list recommended daily intakes as it is made by the body.

A typical preventive CoQ10 dosage ranges from 10-30 mg per day.  For therapeutic purposes, dosages of between 50 to 1,000 mg per day, taken in divided doses, have been given under medical supervision.


CoQ10 Overdose Symptoms, Toxicity Level & Side Effects
CoQ10 is generally considered safe.  No serious side effects have been seen, even for a high coenzyme Q10 dosage.

The few CoQ10 side effects reported are mild and stop as soon as dosage stops, without any treatment needed.  Side effects seem to affect less than 1% of people taking up to 30 mg a day.  Such coenzyme Q10 side effects include headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach upset, loss of appetite, heartburn, insomnia, fatigue, irritability, sensitivity of the eyes to light, rashes, skin itching, and flu-like symptoms.

As CoQ10 may lower blood sugar, people with diabetes or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), or those taking drugs that affect blood sugar, will need to exercise caution and get their blood glucose levels monitored.

CoQ10 may also decrease blood pressure, cholesterol or triglyceride levels. Caution is advised for patients on medication for these conditions.

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1. U.S. National Libary of Medicine [NLM] & National Institutes of Health [NIH]: MedlinePlus. NLM-NIH home page. <http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus>. Use the built-in search function to find specific data. Accessed 2009 March – June.

2. U.S. National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute: Coenzyme Q10. <http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/coenzymeQ10/Patient/page2>. Accessed 2009 Feb 12.

3. Oregon State University, Linus Pauling Institute. Micronutrient Information Center: Coenzyme Q10. <http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/othernuts/coq10/>. Accessed 2009 Jul 06.

4. The George Mateljan Foundation: The world's healthiest foods [WHFoods]. WHFoods home page. <http://www.whfoods.com>. Accessed 2009 March – June.

5. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Mayo Clinic book of alternative medicine: The new approach to using the best of natural therapies and conventional medicine. New York, NY: Time Inc; 2007. p 67-75.

6. Balch JF, Balch PA. Prescription for nutritional healing: A practical A-Z reference to drug-free remedies using vitamins, minerals, herbs & food supplements. Garden City Park, New York: Avery Publishing; 1990.

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