Coenzyme Q10 (“CoQ10”) is one of several related substances called “ubiquinones” that are found in cell membranes, where they
perform several closely-related functions:
- guiding electrons involved in the extraction of energy from food;
- neutralizing destructive oxygen “radicals” that are byproducts of this energy production;
- regenerating vitamin E molecules that have been deactivated by over-oxidized fats.
In addition, CoQ10 has been shown to have significant effects on the expression of many genes involved in cell signaling and
other fundamental biological processes, suggesting that it plays important biological roles that are not yet understood.
Ubiquinones are believed to be present in the outer and internal membranes of all aerobic organisms — plants, animals and
many kinds of bacteria. CoQ10 is the predominant ubiquinone in most mammalian species, although CoQ9 predominates in rats
and mice. The numeral in the name refers to the number of subunits in the molecule’s side-chain.
Your life depends upon the continual presence of CoQ10 molecules in the cells of your body because without CoQ10 these cells
would starve for energy and would be damaged by oxygen radicals. If CoQ10 were to vanish suddenly from your body, a disastrous
series of events would occur:
- The production of energy (in the form of energy storage molecules known as “ATP”) would immediately and drastically decline
throughout your body.
- Your cells would soon use up their existing supplies of ATP.
- Without energy from ATP, your cells would be unable to replace the enzymes and other molecular structures that normally undergo
a continual process of repair or replacement, both inside and outside of the cells.
- With no CoQ10 to neutralize oxygen radicals, tissue destruction would accelerate.
- You would soon weaken, fall into a coma, and die.
Although your body’s cells manufacture sufficient CoQ10 to keep you alive, they do not generally produce the optimal amount.
Your body’s production of CoQ10 can be inadequate for various reasons:
- Many medical conditions can increase your need for CoQ10, yet your body is unlikely to respond appropriately.
- Certain medical conditions can reduce your body’s CoQ10 production.
- Aging reduces CoQ10 production.
- Certain genetic defects can result in chronic CoQ10 deficiency.
Because CoQ10 plays such a fundamental role in the viability of cells, your body’s failure to produce enough CoQ10 can have
debilitating consequences in a wide range of situations. In humans the body’s peak value of CoQ10 production occurs at around
20 years of age; then the production declines continuously, leaving older people in a sorry state of affairs.
Furthermore, CoQ10 levels are severely depleted by many medications, including beta-blockers and statins. Statins inhibit
CoQ10 production to the degree that patients can experience muscle pain and wasting, heart disease, liver damage, kidney failure,
fatigue, and cancer.
An excellent review of the association between low CoQ10 levels and various diseases and ailments is the 2014 review by Garrido-Maraver
and his co-authors.
The medical literature reveals that researchers have turned up evidence for benefits of CoQ10 supplementation for the following
- Cardiovascular Disease (hypertension, heart attacks, arrhythmias, and strokes)
- Atherosclerosis (“hardening of the arteries”)
- Harmful cholesterol levels
- Cancer (metastasis, chemotherapy toxicity)
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Huntington’s Disease
- Friedreich’s Ataxia
- Male infertility
- Periodontal Disease
- Pregnancy problems: pre-eclampsia and spontaneous abortion
- Down Syndrome
- CoQ10 deficiencies, including those induced by statin drugs
- Mitochondrial disorders due to genetic defects in CoQ10 synthesis
As luck would have it, CoQ10 is readily available as a nutritional supplement. Because it is a normal component of every cell
in your body, CoQ10 is non-toxic even at unrealistically high doses (such as 4000 mg). Doses of up to 1200 mg are considered
to be within the “Observed Safe Level”. Much higher levels have been tested without adverse effects other than temporary gastrointestinal
CoQ10 is absorbed much better if taken with food — preferably a food containing some fat or oils. (A big dollup of peanut butter is a good choice unless you are allergic