WHAT IS COENZYME Q10?
Coenzyme Q10 (also known as CoQ10 or ubiquinone) is a vitamin like substance that has antioxidant properties. Whilst coenzyme Q10 is not technically a vitamin (because it can be produced by the body in small amounts) it is unofficially classified as a fat soluble vitamin. In this article I will be discussing coenzyme Q10 in greater detail.
WHEN WAS COENZYME Q10 DISCOVERED?
Coenzyme Q10 was first isolated from beef heart mitochondria in 1957 by Dr Frederick Crane of Wisconsin, USA. Later that year Professor Morton of England managed to extract coenzyme Q10 from vitamin A deficient rat liver and named it ubiquinone. In 1958 the American biochemist Professor Karl Folkers and his co-workers managed to determine the precise chemical structure of coenzyme Q10 and became the first people to synthesise it. In 1963 the Japanese began testing coenzyme Q10 and due to the positive results of these tests they started to study it more aggressively.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s the level of interest in coenzyme Q10 started to increase rapidly. However, the high cost of producing coenzyme Q10 meant that the actual amount of research performed on this compound was limited. In the mid 1970s the Japanese perfected the industrial technology which allowed them to produce large quantities of pure coenzyme Q10 at a relatively low cost. As a result the amount of research into this compound increased and coenzyme Q10 has since become known as a powerful antioxidant (a molecule which protects your cells from oxygen related damage) and a useful treatment for heart disease.
HOW DOES YOUR BODY USE COENZYME Q10?
Almost every cell in the human body contains coenzyme Q10 with the mitochondria (areas of the cell that assist with energy production) containing the highest levels. As discussed above, coenzyme Q10 is a powerful antioxidant and an effective heart disease treatment but it does much more than just this. The list below outlines the main functions of coenzyme Q10 in the body:
– Assisting in the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP – the main source of energy in cellular reactions).
– Enabling numerous biochemical processes in the body (as a coenzyme).
– Preventing cancer.
– Preventing high blood pressure.
– Preventing migraines.
– Preventing stomach ulcers.
– Protecting the body’s cells from damaging free radicals (harmful by-products of oxygen based reactions) (as an antioxidant).
– Protecting the stomach lining.
– Protecting vitamin E within the body from damage.
– Strengthening the immune system.
– Treating heart disease.
– Supporting cardiovascular health.
Other studies suggest that coenzyme Q10 has additional health benefits but further research needs to be done to confirm this. The list below outlines these potential benefits of coenzyme Q10:
– Possibly boosting the immunity of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) patients.
– Possibly increasing sperm count in males.
– Possibly moderating blood glucose levels (making it an important nutrient for people suffering from diabetes).
– Possibly preventing chronic fatigue.
– Possibly preventing mental disorders (such as Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia).
– Possibly preventing nervous system disorders (such as Parkinson’s disease).
– Possibly treating candidiasis (also known as thrush or yeast infection).
– Possibly treating kidney failure.
– Possibly treating periodontal (gum) disease.
HOW MUCH COENZYME Q10 DO YOU NEED?
Our bodies can produce some coenzyme Q10 but most sources suggest additional consumption is needed to get optimum levels of this nutrient in the body. Young and healthy individuals produce around 300 milligrams (mg) of coenzyme Q10 per day. However, after the age of 20 the body’s production of coenzyme Q10 declines. By the age of 40 healthy individuals produce just 192mg of coenzyme Q10 per day and by the age of 80 production drops to just 108mg per day.
Since coenzyme Q10 is not officially classed as a vitamin there is no recommended daily allowance (RDA) for this nutrient. However, research suggest that consuming between 10mg and 30mg of coenzyme Q10 each day is enough to realise the health benefits listed in this article. Higher doses of up to 1,000mg per day have been recommended for therapeutic purposes but you should consult your doctor before taking therapeutic doses.
WHICH FOODS CONTAIN COENZYME Q10?
Protein rich foods from animal sources are often richest in coenzyme Q10 but some nuts, oils and vegetables also contain good levels of this nutrient. The table below highlights some of the best food sources:
|FOOD||MG OF COENZYME Q10 PER 100G|
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF GETTING TOO MUCH COENZYME Q10?
No serious side effects have been reported when taking high levels of coenzyme Q10. However, approximately 1% of people who take coenzyme Q10 supplements have experienced mild overdose symptoms which include:
– Itchy skin.
– Poor appetite.
– Sensitivity to light.
– Stomach problems.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF NOT GETTING ENOUGH COENZYME Q10?
Coenzyme Q10 deficiency can be the result of a poor dietary intake, ageing (as discussed above the human body produces less coenzyme Q10 the older it gets) and taking medications which reduce the levels of this compound in the body. Since coenzyme Q10 acts in a protective capacity throughout the body becoming deficient has a negative impact on these areas and can lead to:
– Periodontal disease.
– Arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
– Atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries).
– High blood glucose levels.
– High blood pressure.
– Increased cancer risk.
– Kidney failure.
– Stomach ulcers
– Weak immune system.
COENZYME Q10 SUMMARY
I hope this article has given you a greater understanding of this relatively new addition to the nutrient family. Whilst it is not officially classified as a vitamin coenzyme Q10 has an important protective role to play in the body. New coenzyme Q10 health benefits are being revealed on a regular basis so make sure you incorporate this key nutrient into your diet.
Coenzyme Q10 (Linus Pauling Institute)
Coenzyme Q10 (Wikipedia)
Coenzyme Q10 – Its History (ABC2Health)
Introduction to Coenzyme Q10 (UW Faculty)
Vitamin List (Health Supplements Nutritional Guide)
What is CoQ10 (Health Supplements Nutritional Guide)