Alternative names: Ubiquinone, CoQ-10.
CoQ10 is a fat-soluble vitamin-like substance present in every cell of the body and serves as a coenzyme for several of the key enzymatic steps in the production of energy within the cell. It also functions as an antioxidant which is important in its clinical effects.
CoQ10 is a vitamin-like substance that resembles Vitamin E, but which may be an even more powerful antioxidant. It plays a critical role in the effectiveness of the immune system and in the aging process.
There is no information on the use of CoQ10 for prevention of illness. This is an extremely important question which, to date, has not been answered.
CoQ10 is naturally present in small amounts in a wide variety of foods but is particularly high in organ meats such as heart, liver and kidney, as well as beef, soy oil, sardines, mackerel and peanuts. To put dietary CoQ10 intake into perspective, one pound of sardines, two pounds of beef, or two and one half pounds of peanuts, provide 30mg of CoQ10. CoQ10 is also synthesized in all tissues and in healthy individuals normal levels are maintained both by CoQ10 intake and by the body's synthesis of CoQ10.
Most of the CoQ10 available in the United States is manufactured in Japan and is distributed by a number of companies who place the CoQ10 either in pressed tablets, powder-filled capsules, or oil-based gelcaps.
CoQ-10 is a normal component of the electron transport chain; which allows the electron energy to be converted to ATP during oxidative phosphorylation in the mitochondria. Its ability to transfer electrons has made CoQ10 an effective anti-oxidant when taken as a supplement.
There has been much research done on this fat-soluble molecule in recent years in areas such as cardiovascular, periodontal, breast cancer, hypertension, and overall energy. Much of the research has shown CoQ10 to be effective when taken as a supplement, as many things (including some prescription drugs) lower the amount of CoQ10 in the blood.
Testing has shown that CoQ10 reduces angina and improves cardiac function. Dr. Peter Langsjoen and Dr. Karl Folkers have demonstrated in clinical studies that CoQ10 could eliminate the need for heart and blood pressure medications for millions of Americans. A study in the American Journal of Cardiology (AJC), showed that CoQ10 cut the incidence of angina attacks in half. In every test run, patients on CoQ10 had better exercise tolerance than those who had similar conditions but were not given the vitamin. CoQ10 is important for energy production. It also improves circulation, lowers blood pressure and acts as a chelating agent.
The dosage of CoQ10 used in clinical trials has evolved since the early 1980s. Initially, doses as small as 30-45mg per day were associated with measurable clinical responses in patients with heart failure. Additional studies have used higher doses with improved clinical response, again in patients with heart failure.
Some patients attain good blood levels of CoQ10 on 100mg per day while others require two or three times this amount to attain the same blood level. CoQ10 is fat-soluble and absorption is significantly improved when it is chewed with a fat-containing food.
Since CoQ10 is oil-soluble, it is best absorbed when it is emulsified in some form of oil (soft gel). Usual doses range from 30mg (supplemental) to 100 or 200mg (therapeutic) per day.
CoQ10 has no known toxicity or side-effects.
Other antioxidants such as coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinone) and proanthocyanidins may be equally or more effective than vitamins C and E. This, however, remains to be proven in clinical trials. Coenzyme Q10 is absorbed into brain fluids and is a very powerful antioxidant.
CoQ10 is known to be highly concentrated in heart muscle cells due to the high energy requirements of this cell type. The great bulk of clinical work with CoQ10 has focused on heart disease. Specifically, congestive heart failure (from a wide variety of causes) has been strongly correlated with significantly low blood and tissue levels of CoQ10. [Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., U.S.A., vol. 82(3), pp. 901-4]
The severity of heart failure correlates with the severity of CoQ10 deficiency. [Drugs Exptl. Clin. Res. X(7) pp.497-502] This CoQ10 deficiency may well be a primary causative factor in some types of heart muscle dysfunction while in others it may be a secondary phenomenon. Whether primary, secondary or both, this deficiency of CoQ10 appears to be a major treatable factor in the otherwise inexorable progression of heart failure.
The efficacy and safety of CoQ10 in the treatment of congestive heart failure, whether related to primary cardiomyopathies or secondary forms of heart failure, appears to be well-established.
CoQ10 deficiency is common in individuals with heart disease. Heart tissue biopsies in patients with various heart diseases show a CoQ10 deficiency in 50 to 75% of cases. In one study, patients with stable angina pectoris were treated with CoQ10 at 150 mg per day for four weeks. Compared to placebo, CoQ10 reduced the frequency of anginal attacks by 53%. In addition, there was a significant increase in treadmill exercise tolerance. The results of this study and others suggest that CoQ10 is a safe and effective treatment for angina pectoris.
There have been several studies of CoQ10 use in cardiomyopathy. One double-blind controlled trial followed 80 people with various forms of cardiomyopathy over a period of 3 years. Of those treated with CoQ10, 89% improved significantly, but when the treatment was stopped, their heart function deteriorated. [Langsjoen PH, et al. Response of patients in classes III and IV of cardiomyopathy to therapy in a blind and crossover trial with coenzyme Q10. Proc Natl Acad Sci 82: 4240, 1985.]
Pioneering trials of CoQ10 in cases of heart failure involved primarily patients with dilated weak heart muscle of unknown cause (idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy). CoQ10 was added to standard treatments for heart failure such as fluid pills (diuretics), digitalis preparations, and ACE inhibitors. Several trials involved the comparison between supplemental CoQ10 and placebo on heart function as measured by echocardiography. CoQ10 was given orally in divided doses as a dry tablet chewed with a fat-containing food or an oil-based gel cap swallowed at mealtime.
Heart function, as indicated by the fraction of blood pumped out of the heart with each beat (the ejection fraction), showed a gradual and sustained improvement in tempo with a gradual and sustained improvement in patients' symptoms of fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain and palpitations. The degree of improvement was occasionally dramatic with some patients developing a normal heart size and function on CoQ10 alone. Most of these dramatic cases were patients who began CoQ10 shortly after the onset of congestive heart failure. Patients with more established disease frequently showed clear improvement but not a return to normal heart size and function.
A few studies, however, have found no benefit from CoQ10 supplementation in treating people with cardiomyopathy. Despite a partial lack of consistency in the outcomes of published research, most holistic doctors recommend 100-150mg per day taken with meals.
CoQ10 enhances the pumping action of the heart, output of blood, speed of heart muscle contraction and general cardiac efficiency. Dosage: 60-120mg per day.
Studies suggest that coenzyme Q10 levels are lower in women who have had a recent miscarriage. Similar to methionine and homocysteine normalization, the production of coenzyme Q10 in the body also depends on folic acid, vitamin B12, and betaine.
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