Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
What is CoQ10?
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) forms a part of every cell in the body. It is similar to vitamins and is used by the body to produce energy to perform various functions. CoQ10 helps in the growth and development of the cells. It also works as a natural antioxidant, and protects the body from the damage caused by free radicals.
CoQ10 is synthesized in the body, and is also found in many foods. There are two forms of CoQ10:
Ubiquinol is its active antioxidant form, while ubiquinone is the oxidized form, which is converted to ubiquinol by the body. Both the forms of this coenzyme support the enzymes for performing various biochemical functions. Hence, it is considered a vital constituent in the chain of the metabolic reactions, which generate energy within the cells. Since it promotes the supply of energy to the body’s different parts, its concentration is higher in the organs that have a higher energy requirement like the kidneys, heart, and the liver.
Several medical studies have demonstrated the health benefits of CoQ10, most of which can be attributed to the vital role it plays in energy production and oxygen utilization, particularly in the cardiac muscle cells.
The health benefits of CoQ10 are described beneath
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) plays a key role in the mitochondrial bioenergetics as a proton carrier and electron transport. Studies have demonstrated the presence of this enzyme in the cellular membranes and blood plasma. Research has also proved that this enzyme possesses strong antioxidant activity. CoQ10 affects the expression of genes, which are involved in the metabolic processes, human cell signaling, and transport.
A deficiency of CoQ10 can lead to mitochondrial diseases, autosomal recessive mutations, and age-related oxidative stress. It can also stimulate the carcinogenesis processes thus increasing the risk of cancer. Several neurodegenerative disorders, cancer, diabetes, fibromyalgia, and cardiovascular diseases have been associated with the low levels of CoQ10 levels. CoQ10 can help in preventing these disorders by acting as a mitochondrial energizer. The antioxidant action of this enzyme also provides significant relief from the symptoms of these diseases (1).
Coenzyme Q10 is an essential component required for performing numerous functions in the body. It provides several nutrients that ensure the body’s requirements for vitamins and minerals are met with. The research studies undertaken to understand the nutritional value of CoQ10 have shown that it contains a variety of endogenous and exogenous components that function synergistically and interactively to neutralize the free radicals. It contains the essential nutrients like Vitamin C, vitamin E, polyphenols and beta carotene. It also contains enzymes like bilirubin, ubiquinones, thiols, and uric acid as well as the metal-binding proteins like albumin, ceruloplasmin, myoglobin, and ferritin.
The high nutritional content of CoQ10 helps to improve the energy levels, augments the immune system and protects the vital organs against free radicals (2).
The clinical studies in cardiology have shown favorable results with the use of CoQ10 in the patients with cardiac disorders including congestive heart failure, hypertensive heart disease, and ischemic heart disease. It has also been found to improve the symptoms of reperfusion injury and diastolic dysfunction of the left ventricle in the patients who have undergone a coronary artery bypass graft surgery (3).
CoQ10 should be used by the people who have a risk of developing cardiovascular illnesses due to the presence of factors like family history, unhealthy lifestyle, and improper eating habits. This effect can be attributed to its action of inhibiting the LDL cholesterol oxidation. It also helps in the maintenance of the mitochondrial and cellular functions by protecting the heart tissues against oxidative damage and the effect of stress. The combined effect of these actions improves the heart health and prevents the cardiovascular diseases.
Neuroprotection (Prevent Neurodegeneration)
Studies have indicated that CoQ10 acts as a neuroprotective agent and helps in the prevention of disorders caused by the damage to the nerves (4).
The powerful antioxidant action of this enzyme helps buffer the potential adverse effects of free radicals on the inner mitochondrial membranes. It is known that oxidative stress can lead to significant glutathione loss and damage the DNA and protein structures. These effects can lead to several neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, and Huntington’s disease. CoQ10 can help in preventing these conditions by protecting the DNA structure and the proteins and by preventing glutathione loss.
CoQ10 also provides protection against the neuronal damage produced by ischemia, toxic injury, and atherosclerosis. Preliminary clinical trials involving the use of CoQ10 have offered promise in the management of many brain disorders that occur due to the injury to the nerves caused by a lack of blood supply, high cholesterol, and exposure to toxins. Regular use of CoQ10 supplements can slow down the functional deterioration occurring due to Parkinson’s disease by preventing further damage to the nerves. Hence, CoQ10 is considered a safe and promising neuroprotective agent.
A study that involved 109 patients with essential hypertension showed encouraging results when treated with CoQ10 supplements. The participants were given an average dose of 225 mg of the enzyme per day in addition to their existing antihypertensive drugs. The patients were followed closely and their blood pressure was monitored on a regular basis. The doses of the antihypertensive drugs were adjusted based on the blood pressure.
A gradual improvement was observed in these patients, which helped lower the dose of their antihypertensive drug within one to six months. Their cardiovascular drug requirements and clinical status stabilized over a period of time with a significant improvement in their systolic and diastolic blood pressures. This study points to the effectiveness of CoQ10 in lowering blood pressure. This enzyme can also improve the thickness of the left ventricular wall and enhance the diastolic functions thus boosting the cardiac efficiency (5).
Congestive Cardiac Failure
The efficiency of the heart to function optimally is reduced significantly in the patients with congestive cardiac failure. Their cardiac muscles are weakened due to which the heart is unable to pump blood efficiently. As a result, there is a lack of enough blood supply to the different organs.
Also, the heart muscles require a strong, energetic support to pump blood into the aorta continuously. They consume a huge amount of oxygen and energy. It has been found that a deficiency of CoQ10 can lower the energetic capacity of the heart, and make the tissues susceptible to the damage by free radicals, which are the by-products of the different metabolic processes.
CoQ10 supplements can help in preventing this by stimulating the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which works as the body’s cellular fuel. It provides a great energetic support for the cardiac muscles and enables the heart to pump blood more efficiently. Additionally, it destroys the free radicals thus protecting the heart muscles from the potential damage. Hence, people with congestive cardiac failure are advised to use CoQ10 to improve their cardiac efficacy and reduce the symptoms of heart failure.
Cardiac arrest can severely impair the blood supply to the vital organs of the body such as the brain. Even after a person survives a cardiac arrest, it may lead to irreversible damage to the brain due to the disruption of blood flow to the organ. Researchers investigated whether treating cardiac arrest patients with CoQ10 could reduce the neuronal damage and increase their chances of survival.
The research showed a higher rate of survival in the patients who were treated with CoQ10. The research also found a better neurological outcome in 36% of the patients treated with CoQ10. This results point to the efficacy of CoQ10 in reducing the risk of mortality associated with cardiac arrest.
CoQ10 works as an effective treatment for high cholesterol. It can also reduce the side effects such as muscle pain caused by the conventional cholesterol-lowering drugs like statins. Regular use of these supplements can control the cholesterol levels and prevent the conditions like heart attack, hypertension, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.
CoQ10 supplements can improve the blood sugar levels and help in the management of diabetes. It can also protect the nerves, blood vessels and other cells and tissues in the body from the effect of persistently high blood sugar levels and thus, reduce the risk of diabetic neuropathy, and diabetic nephropathy.
It has been found that beginning the use of CoQ10 supplements within 3 days of myocardial infarction can significantly lower the risk of subsequent heart attacks and angina. The risk of mortality linked with heart attack is also lower in the people who use CoQ10 supplements. It works by improving the blood supply to the heart, lowering the cholesterol levels, and strengthening the cardiac muscles.
Scientists have observed that the patients with cancer have very low amount of CoQ10 in their blood. This finding is more evident in the cases of lymphoma, myeloma, and the cancers of breast, prostate, lung, pancreas, kidneys and the colon. Hence, treatment of these patients with CoQ10 supplements is recommended to manage the deficiency of this enzyme and aid in the recovery of the patient.
Some research has indicated that CoQ10 can work as an alternative treatment for cancer by enhancing the functions of the immune system. It can also prevent the side effects of chemotherapy drugs like doxorubicin and anthracycline and improve their effectiveness. Thus, CoQ10 can increase the chances of survival of cancer patients through a variety of mechanisms.
Mitochondrial dysfunctions play a major role in triggering an attack of migraine by reducing the oxygen metabolism. Researchers have proved that CoQ10 can help in preventing these headaches by enhancing mitochondrial functions. It works as a mitochondrial energizer and maintains the integrity of the cell structure. This help to reduce the intensity and frequency of the migraine attacks.
Enhances Exercise Performance
A study conducted to know the effect of CoQ10 on the exercise performance of a person showed encouraging results (6).
This effect makes CoQ10 an effective supplement for sportspersons and those living an active lifestyle. It also improves the stamina of a person and helps him feel energetic throughout the day.
It is highly recommended for the people who are trying to lose weight. Exercise is an integral part of any weight loss program. But, most people are unable to work out for longer than 10 to 15 minutes as they feel exhausted. This usually occurs due to the low-calorie diet, which deprives the body of the ready source of energy. Also, the lack of enough physical activities can slow the results of their weight loss efforts, which can de-motivate them and force them to get back to their regular diet and sedentary lifestyle. CoQ10 can help in dealing with this by improving their exercise performance and preventing fatigue. It allows the person to work out for longer and thus, ensures a faster weight loss.
A study has found a low level of plasma Coenzyme Q10 as a marker for chronic fatigue and treatment resistance in the patients with depression (7).
The study also proves that major depression is often accompanied by the presence of oxidative and inflammatory damage. Coenzyme Q10, by working as a strong antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory agent, can help in preventing damage to the nervous system and thus, reduce the symptoms of depression. It can improve the response of the symptoms like mood changes, lack of interest in daily activities, suicidal tendencies, loss of appetite, and sleeplessness to the treatment.
An imbalance of neurotransmitters in the nervous system is another factor that can lead to depression. CoQ10 can help in restoring the balance of these chemicals and thus, reduce the symptoms of depression. Hence, it is advisable to couple the treatment of depression with CoQ10 supplements to hasten the recovery of the patient.
CoQ10 can slow down the age-related macular degeneration, which is the most common cause of vision loss in the people above 60 years of age. The condition is characterized by the deterioration of the macular structure (a cluster of specialized cells present in the retina) as a result of which the central vision begins to blur. It is a slowly progressive disease, which leads to a complete loss of vision over a period of time. The vision loss makes it difficult for the person to perform tasks that require good vision like driving and reading. CoQ10 can slow down the age-related degeneration of the macula. Oxidative damage, which is another cause of macular degeneration, is also dealt with by CoQ10 by producing an antioxidant action and thus, preventing the progression of the disease to a great extent.
Gum (Periodontal) Disease
Gum diseases are the common problems affecting the oral cavity. The common symptoms of these diseases include swelling, pain, bleeding, and redness of the gums. It has been observed that the people who develop frequent gum diseases have a low level of CoQ10 in their gums. The use of CoQ10 supplements can help in preventing these conditions and lead to a faster healing and repair of the damaged tissues.
CoQ10 can boost the functions of the immune system. This property may help in the management of HIV and AIDS. It can improve the body’s defense against bacteria and viruses and reduce the risk of recurrent infections, which are common in the patients with HIV/AIDS.
CoQ10 can help in the management of male infertility by increasing the spermatozoa count. It can also improve the spermatozoa motility and boost the chances of conception in the female partner. It has been found to be useful in the treatment of problems like erectile dysfunctions and premature ejaculation.
Best Natural Source of CoQ10
The bark of Terminalia Arjuna is very rich natural source of CoQ10 (Coenzyme Q10). It is generally used as cardiac tonic and enhances the heart functions. It also provides similar benefits as CoQ10 supplements provide. CoQ10 supplements are very expensive, so the best alternative is Terminalia Arjuna Bark Powder, which is inexpensive. The main thing of consideration is Arjuna Bark has no side effects like CoQ10 supplements. Arjuna Bark is natural and considerably safe.
CoQ10 Side Effects
(What are the side effects of Coenzyme Q10?)
Some common side effects of CoQ10 supplementation include
- Mild insomnia
- Pain in the abdomen, and
Some studies have detected elevated levels of some liver enzymes in the people taking about 300 mg of CoQ10 per day for several months. However, no signs of liver toxicity were reported.
Some other side effects of Coenzyme Q10 are skin rashes, nausea, vomiting, irritability, increased sensitivity to light, and fatigue. Some patients may develop breathing difficulties, trembling of the hands and legs, palpitation, and tingling and numbness. However, the risk of these side effects is minimal when the supplements are taken in a dose of less than 1,200 mg a day.
Some drug interactions may develop when CoQ10 is used together with the medicines for high cholesterol and diabetes.
The statin group of antilipemic drugs can decrease the levels of CoQ10 in the blood and thus, reduce its effectiveness.
A similar effect is also observed when CoQ10 supplements are used with some oral anti-diabetic agents.
Hence, people using these drugs may need to take a higher dose of CoQ10 to achieve the desired response.
CoQ10 can also reduce the effectiveness of anticoagulant medicines like warfarin (Coumadin), which may require the person to take a higher dose of the drug.