Co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a fat-soluble nutrient produced naturally by our bodies. It is thought to be required for the proper functioning of an enzyme that produces energy to fuel cell growth and maintenance. Studied suggest it does this by improving the function of mitochondria ... the "powerhouses" that produce energy in cells.
CoQ10 is also an antioxidant, that protects cells from oxidizing that causing highly reactive chemicals called free radicals. These free radicals can damage cells and their DNA.
CoQ10 can be found throughout the body, in every cell, in various concentrations with the highest amounts found in the organs that require to most cellular energy such as in the muscle, heart, liver, kidneys, and pancreas with lesser amounts in lungs. CoQ10 benefits have been cited in various research studies and randomized clinical trials for various conditions such as:
- Early-stage Parkinson disease; where it was shown to slow the rate of deterioration
- Heart disease; where there was an association with low levels of CoQ10
- Migraine headaches; when combined with supplements of magnesium citrate and riboflavin
- Cancer treatment side effects
- Blood Pressure; potential in lowering both systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure
- Periodontal disease; review study has shown that there is no clinical benefit to the use of CoQ10
Dietary sources of CoQ10 include:
- Meat and fish - richest sources with levels exceeding 50 mg/kg in beef, pork and chicken heart, and chicken liver. However, up to 32% can be destroyed by heat
- Vegetable oils - good source; avocado – high source
- Vegetables such as parsley, broccoli cauliflower - moderate levels
- Fruits and berries - poor to very poor source
- Dairy products; poorer sources as compared to animal tissues.
CoQ10 is available in 2 basic forms; ubiquinone, which as been available for years, and now, the ubiquinol form. There has been considerable debate on which form is best. The ubiquinol form has gain in popularity and, as a result, the ubiquinone form has falling out of favor and has even been considered inferior, in some circles. One of the reasons for this is that the ubiquinone form of CoQ10 is an oxidized form and the ubiquinol form is not oxidized ... and oxidation of any substance is associated with the formation of free radicals which are like chemical reactions looking for a place to take place, and when they take place with a contaminate or chemical in the body, cells can be damaged. As you will see below, the process of oxidation process of CoQ10 is necessary for the creation of cell energy.
So, how does CoQ10 actually work? As mentioned earlier, CoQ10 is found inside the powerhouses of the cell called the mitochondria ... the point where cellular energy production actually occurs. As a co-enzyme, CoQ10 contributes to energy production in one of 2 ways; either by accepting an electron or donating an electron during a chain of reactions within the mitochondria that lead to energy production. Accepting or donating an electron depends upon what form of CoQ10 is present. It is this exchange of electrons at a cellular level that created energy.
This is where both the ubiquinone and ubiquinol forms come in to play, to work together to create energy. When the ubiquinone form is present, it can accept an electron from another molecule in the mitochondria. By doing this it becomes the reduced ubiquinol form. When the reduced CoQ10 ubiquinol form donates an electron, it becomes the oxidized (ubiquinone) form. This exchange is what maintains a state of equilibrium and is how the body benefits from CoQ10 in either form.
Whether you take ubiquinone or ubiquinol CoQ10, one will be converted to the other and back again. They are both important. Some individuals simply prefer taking the non oxidized ubiquinol form.
Additional information: National Cancer Institute
Sources: Wikipedia; http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary; http://www.medterms.com/; http://en.wikipedia.org; Pravst, Igor; Zmitek, Katja; Zmitek, Janko (2010). "Coenzyme Q10 Contents in Foods and Fortification Strategies". Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 50 (4): 269–80.;"Study Suggests Coenzyme Q10 Slows Functional Decline in Parkinson's Disease". 2002. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/news_and_events/press_releases pressrelease_parkinsons_coenzymeq10_101402.htm.