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Co-Enzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 (also known as ubiqinone) is a vitamin-like substance which plays a vital role in the body's energy supply mechanism, acting in conjunction with enzymes (hence the name coenzyme Q10) to convert sugars and fat into energy. Coenzyme Q10 is also important as an antioxidant within the body. Coenzyme quinones occur in several chemical forms, with coenzyme Q10 being the only form found in human tissues. The human body is able to synthesise (in the liver) a limited amount of coenzyme Q10, with the remainder being obtained from the diet. Rich sources of coenzyme Q10 include fish (mackerel, salmon, sardines) and nuts. Under normal circumstances, the body is able to maintain adequate levels of coenzyme Q10. However, coenzyme Q10 levels decrease with age, and are depleted by intense physical exercise or illness.

What does coenzyme Q10 do?

Coenzyme Q10 is an essential co-factor of enzymes involved in the energy production process. Coenzyme Q10 is stored in mitochondria, structures found within cells responsible for the generation of energy (in the form of a molecule called ATP). Tissues with a high energy requirement (heart, liver, skeletal muscles) contain higher numbers of mitochondria within their cells. Coenzyme Q10 is also important within the body as a major fat-soluble antioxidant, protecting cell membranes from the damaging effects of free radicals which has been implicated in the pathogenesis of many diseases), in a complementary manner to vitamin E. Clinical studies have shown coenzyme Q10 to have the following benefits:

* Coenzyme Q10 helps to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system It benefits patients with cardiovascular disease, hypertension, hyperlipidaemia, coronary artery disease and heart failure, and those undergoing treatment with lipid-lowering statin drugs.

* Coenzyme Q10 promotes normal immune function (cells involved in immune response have a high energy dependence), and benefits patients with breast cancer.

* Coenzyme Q10 inhibits the development of periodontal disease.

* Coenzyme Q10 benefits patients with Parkinson?s disease.

What evidence is there for the efficacy of Coenzyme Q10?

Cardiovascular disease:

Coenzyme Q10 protects against atherosclerosis by inhibiting the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, inhibits inappropriate clotting of blood, lowers blood pressure, and benefits heart function in patients with myocardial infarction and cardiomyopathy. The benefits of coenzyme Q10 supplementation have also been demonstrated for congestive heart failure.

Statin Therapy:

Statins are drugs that reduce circulatory cholesterol levels, and are used primarily to protect at-risk patients from adverse cardiovascular events. Statins are potent inhibitors of coenzyme A reductase, the rate-limiting enzyme in cholesterol biosynthesis. Whilst the safety record of these drugs is generally considered to be acceptable (particularly in limited time-frame usage), adverse effects do occur in a significant number of patients; these include skeletal muscle pain and weakness (occasionally resulting in potentially life-threatening rhabdomyolysis and renal failure), gastrointestinal disturbance, liver dysfunction, initiation or acceleration of cataracts, cognitive dysfunction and increased risk of polyneuropathy.
Statin-induced reduction in coenzyme Q10 levels has been well documented, and many of the adverse effects resulting from statin use can be linked to coenzyme Q10 depletion. Coenzyme Q10 is not available from the diet in sufficient amounts (100-200mg/day) to compensate for the depletion in levels induced by statins. Whilst coenzyme Q10 depletion may be tolerated in younger patients, particularly in the short term, the elderly and those with chronic cardiovascular disease can be at risk from the effects of statin induced coenzyme Q10 depletion.

Periodontal disease:

Coenzyme Q10 plays a vital role in providing energy to all of the cells in the human body, as well as providing the energy requirements of certain types of bacteria.

The mouth contains both beneficial and potentially harmful bacteria. The beneficial bacteria typically rely on coenzyme Q10 for their energy provision, while the harmful bacteria typically rely on vitamin K for their energy supply. Supplementation with coenzyme Q10 can alter the balance of oral bacteria in favour of beneficial organisms, while providing a less favourable environment for the bacteria responsible for gum disease.
Supplementation is particularly effective in maintaining healthy coenzyme Q10 levels in the tooth pockets of the gums, where bacteria responsible for plaque formation and gum disease may congregate.

Parkinson?s disease:

Clinical trials have demonstrated that supplementation with coenzyme Q10 slows progression and benefits symptoms of patients with Parkinson?s disease.


Reduced levels of coenzyme Q10 in breast tissue or blood have been identified as risk factors for the development of breast cancer, and in blood as a risk factor for the development of melanoma.

Are there adverse effects from taking Coenzyme Q10?

Coenzyme Q10 is generally well tolerated, with no serious adverse effects reported in long term use. Very rarely, individuals may experience gastrointestinal disturbance. There are no known toxic effects, and coenzyme Q10 cannot be overdosed. Coenzyme Q10 is not recommended for pregnant or lactating women, in whom the effects of coenzyme Q10 have not been extensively studied. No significant interference of coenzyme Q10 with other drugs has been reported.

How much Coenzyme Q10 should you take?

The generally recommended intake for coenzyme Q10 is 30 to 100mg/day, taken in split doses (e.g. morning and evening) with meals, to enhance absorption.

Coenzyme Q10 is routinely prescribed for the treatment of heart disease in many countries, including Italy, Scandinavia, Japan and Canada.

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