Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is essential for the health of our cells, tissues and organs. It belongs to a family of lipid soluble ubiquinones, present throughout the body, and occurring in the cells of all plants and animals. Among the coenzyme Q compounds that exist in nature, coenzyme Q10 is the predominant form found in humans. It is most concentrated in cells of the heart, liver, kidney and pancreas. The body's production of CoQ10 peaks around age 20 and then declines. For many decades, supplemental CoQ10 has been used throughout Europe, Asia and the United States for its support of cellular energy, antioxidant function and cardiovascular health.
CoQ10 plays an essential role in the mitochondrial electron transport chain (ETC), the major metabolic pathway for making energy in every cell of the body. The ETC is the third step in the process of cellular respiration, following glycolysis and the Krebs cycle, the step where most of the energy locked in the original glucose molecule is released. The ETC is a"bucket brigade" of electron-carrying proteins located in the inner membrane of the mitochondria, which transfer electrons from one to another down the chain. This eventually produces water and a gradient through which ATP, our cellular energy currency, is made. CoQ10 functions as an electron carrier in the ETC, linking the various enzymes of the chain. Every pair of electrons processed by the chain must first interact with CoQ10, making the production of ATP dependent on sufficient levels of CoQ10 in the mitochondrial membrane.
In addition to being essential for generating energy, CoQ10 is an important antioxidant. Because it is fat-soluble, CoQ10 is well-suited to protect the mitochondria from free radical damage. The process of electron transport produces oxygen free radicals, which are then trapped by CoQ10 and vitamin E. CoQ10 works synergistically with vitamin E, helping to spare it. Studies have shown that CoQ10 reduces the initiation and propagation of lipid peroxidation in cell membranes and in lipoprotein fractions and under normal conditions, it is found at higher concentrations in the mitochondria than is vitamin E. As with other antioxidant nutrients, CoQ10 is subject to increased turnover in the body as a result of stress or other situations that tend to increase free radical load in the body, such as smoking, alcohol intake or exposure to toxic chemicals or radiation.
CoQ10 has been extensively studied for its ability to support cardiovascular function. Studies suggest that CoQ10 may strengthen the heart muscle and enhance such things as quality of life, breathing and heart rate. It supports blood pressure within normal levels, and it may be of benefit to those taking cholesterol-lowering medications, which can reduce blood levels of CoQ10. It has been shown to potentially support energy, sexual health, gum health, certain immune parameters, aerobic capacity and physical performance.
Coenzyme Q10 is well tolerated, with an extensive history of study and safe use.