Co-Enzyme Q10 (CoQ10) or 'ubiquinone' (meaning 'everywhere' and so called because it is ubiquitous in nature) is a natural substance produced by the body. It is found in all living creatures as well as in many foods. It has been said to enhance stamina, help weight loss and even combat cancer and the ageing process. Although there may be some truth in these claims, much research has been directed towards its promise in the treatment of heart disease and gum disease.
A Catalyst for Metabolism
First and foremost, CoQ10 is a prime factor in the metabolic process - the process in which food is broken down into useable energy. It is a catalyst for metabolism and speeds up the metabolic process. We need it for digesting food, maintaining healthy muscles and healing wounds, as well as just about every other bodily function. CoQ10 is found in every cell in the body as it plays a vital role in extracting energy from the food we eat. It is much more concentrated in muscles such as the heart, which requires an abundance of energy to help it beat over 100,000 times a day. In a study performed on mackerel and herring, it was found that the concentration of CoQ10 was much higher in the heart tissue (105-148µg/g) compared to concentrations found in the body tissue.
CoQ10 is found more abundantly in organ meat and although it is produced by our bodies, this is found to decrease as we get older and with certain diseases. It has been suggested that this decrease in production could be a contributing factor to a lack of energy in older people.
An antioxidant is a molecule capable of slowing down or preventing the oxidation of other molecules. The significance of this is that oxidation reactions can produce free radicals (see below), which start chain reactions that can damage other cells. Antioxidants, such as CoQ10, terminate these chain reactions by removing free radical intermediates and inhibit other oxidation reactions by being oxidised themselves.
These are atoms, molecules or ions with a single, unpaired electron - this unpaired electron is highly reactive, so radicals are likely to take part in chemical reactions and can have damaging and unwanted side-effects on cells.
Although they play an important role in biological processes, many forms of cancer are thought to be the result of reactions between free radicals and DNA, resulting in mutations that can adversely affect the cell cycle and potentially lead to malignancy.
Furthermore, the 'free radical theory of ageing' (FRTA) proposes that free radicals underlie the ageing process itself. It states that organisms age because cells accumulate free radical damage over time.
Free radical damage within cells has been linked to a range of disorders including cancer, arthritis, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and diabetes. For these reasons, CoQ10 has been dubbed an 'energy-enhancer' and it has been suggested it may slow down age-related degenerative changes.
Hypertension (high blood-pressure): CoQ10 has the potential in hypertensive patients to reduce systolic blood pressure by up to 17mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 10mmHg, with no significant side-effects.
Heart Disease / Heart Failure / Weakened Heart: People with cardiovascular disease have been shown to have lower levels of CoQ10 in their hearts. Therefore, it has been used to supplement conventional drugs and treatments for these conditions with promising results; in a major study in Italy of over 2,500 patients with heart failure, 80% showed an improvement when given a dose of 100mg per day on top of their other treatment. Improvements included better colour and less ankle swelling (oedema) and shortness of breath and began to sleep better after taking the supplement for 90 days.
May protect against blood clots
Migraine: In a study of 32 people with a history of migraine, three month's treatment with Co-Enzyme Q10 reduced the frequency of the patient's migraines by 55%.
Periodental (gum) disease: A lack of CoQ10 has been linked to gum disease; it has been shown to maintain gums and teeth. It appears to aid healing and reduce pain and bleeding in those with the disease and speeds recovery after oral surgery.
Lack of side-effects: Most research suggests CoQ10 is harmless, even in large doses. In rare cases, side-effects include loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhoea and upset stomach.
Further Potential Benefits:
Breast / Prostate Cancer: A few small studies suggest CoQ10 may prolong survival rates for those with these terminal illnesses; however, results remain inconclusive.
Shows promise agains Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease
May improve stamina in those with AIDS
Diabetes Some practitioners believe it can help to stabilise blood sugar levels
Aids weight loss
Enhances athletic performance
Combats chronic fatigue syndrome
Relieves multiple allergies
More research is needed to substantiate these claims.
You should not take Co-Enzyme Q10 if you are pregnant or breastfeeding because it has not been well studied in this group.
If you have a medical condition or are unsure about taking CoQ10, you should consult your doctor.