Coenzyme Q10 - The Energizing Nutrient
By Debbie Bowman RHN
On-Staff Nutritionist for Edible Island
Wouldn't it be nice if there was one supplement that could neutralize free radicals, fend off disease, protect our vital organs and energize us from head to toe? Actually, there is - and it's already inside of us. It's called coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) - a naturally occurring vitamin-like substance that our bodies produce. Unfortunately, sometimes our bodies don't produce enough of it, particularly as we get older.
Our very existence depends on this miracle nutrient. In fact, every cell of our body uses CoQ10 every second of every day. Via our mitochondria - the energy production portion of our cells - CoQ10 generates energy for every cell, tissue and organ in the body. Specifically, the conversion of energy from carbohydrates and fats to the form of energy used by our cells requires the presence of CoQ10. That's why when we are deficient in this important nutrient, we feel like we are running on weak batteries - because essentially, we are.
CoQ10 is available in two supplemental forms - ubiquinone and ubiquinol. Both names signify their ubiquitous (widespread) distribution in the human body. Ubiquinol is the fully reduced, electron rich form, and ubiquinone is the less expensive, oxidized form. Though both forms are used in the body, 95 percent of the CoQ10 your body uses is the reduced form, or ubiquinol. Additionally, when you supplement with the less expensive ubiquinone your body has to convert most of it to the ubiquinol form. What this means is you can take much less ubiquinol than ubiquinone for the same measured benefit. Furthermore, our body's ability to convert ubiquinone to ubiquinol diminishes with age.
CoQ10 is primarily found in wild fish, meat, eggs, uncooked spinach, broccoli, raw peanuts, wheat germ and unprocessed whole grains. Although our bodies are able to produce some of the CoQ10 that we need, the rest of the CoQ10 our bodies use is synthesized from the foods we eat. Since the above list is short, it's easy to see that we depend on our body's ability to create CoQ10. Unfortunately, as we age, our body becomes less and less efficient at creating CoQ10. As a result, our need to supplement CoQ10 increases with each additional candle on our birthday cake.
Here is a list of ways that supplemental ubiquinol can improve our health:
- Helps treat high blood pressure and heart disease
- Acts as a power free-radical scavenger throughout the body
- Enhances immune system function
- Provides an energy boost for people dealing with fatigue
- Reduces high cholesterol levels in the blood
- Stabilizes blood sugar levels of people with diabetes
- Assists in the treatment of cancer and protects the organs from toxic chemotherapy drugs
- Treats gum disease
- Slows down dementia progression
- Increases sperm count and motility
- Prevents or treats migraine headaches
It is especially important for those taking a statin drug to supplement with CoQ10 - as statin drugs deplete the body's natural levels of CoQ10 by compromising its production in the body. Symptoms of CoQ10 deficiency from statin drug use are general fatigue, muscle pain, muscle weakness and tenderness, nocturnal cramps and tendon pain.
There are no known side effects to taking either form of CoQ10. Dosages vary from person to person. For relatively healthy individuals between the ages of 40 and 60 it is prudent to take 50 - 100 mg each day. If you are over 60 or on statin drugs you should take 100 - 200 mg each day. If you've recently had heart surgery or a heart attack, or suffer from congestive heart failure, you should supplement 200 - 300 mg daily. For all individuals who are new to taking CoQ10 it is best to take a double dose for the first two weeks - this increases blood plasma measurements of CoQ10 to an optimal level. After two weeks go down to the normal recommended dose. Your body will only use what it needs and will eliminate the excess, so taking too much is not a problem. Since CoQ10 is fat soluble, it is best to take this supplement in divided doses with meals to ensure maximum bioavailability and absorption.
Supplemental CoQ10 may decrease the anticoagulant efficacy of warfarin (brand name Coumadin) - so consult with your physician or pharmacist before taking CoQ10 if you are taking a pharmaceutical anticoagulant.