Coenzyme Q10 Increases Oxygen Utilization in Our Body
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) has the unique ability to increase oxygen utilization in our body and to activate the immune system. When our immune system is exhausted from the stress of fighting off molds, fungi, bacteria, viruses, toxins, etc. and we feel sick or have a chronic tired feeling CoQ10 gives it a shot of oxygen, which revives it so it can attack the foreign invaders with renewed vigor.
According to researchers Emile G. Blinzakov, M.D. and Gerald L. Hunt, CoQ10 can "boost the immune system, increase the strength of the heart without exercise, relieve angina, protect against heart attacks, lower high blood pressure, reduce weight naturally, heal periodontal problems, extend life, and slow down the aging process." They explain, "CoQ10 is a vital catalyst in the creation of the energy that cells need for life. Without CoQ10 the chain of cellular energy is broken, and without energy, life ceases."
CoQ10 Functions Much Like Vitamin E
CoQ10 is a naturally occurring molecule that resembles the chemical structure of Vitamins K and E. CoQ10 biochemically functions much like vitamin E in that it participates in anti-oxidant and free radical reactions. However, CoQ10 has an added biochemical role of major importance; it is involved in the production of energy at the cellular level. Of special import is CoQ10ís role in producing energy in heart cells.
CoQ10 is a Catalyst That Cells Need for Energy
CoQ10 is a catalyst that cells need for energy. As we age our ability to synthesize CoQ10 is greatly decreased, and that is when health troubles seem to begin.
Without CoQ10 we wouldnít have enough energy to stay alive! CoQ10 may be the ultimate antidote to aging, the life-force your body produces to stay alive and healthy . . . and it can be taken as a nutritional supplement!
Ubiquinone ó Another Name for CoQ10
Another name for CoQ10 is Ubiquinone. It was formed from the word ubiquitous (found in many places) because CoQ10 is found in virtually every cell in the body.
Coenzymes Are Not Inactivated by Stomach Acids
Coenzymes should not be confused with enzymes. Coenzymes are relatively small molecules compared to enzymes, and thus are not inactivated by stomach acids and are readily absorbed.
Enzymes are large proteins that have very specific roles in carrying out desirable chemical reactions. Enzymes are catalysts that speed reactions that might take place very slowly or not take place at all if it were not for the presence of the enzymes. Yet, the enzymes are not consumed in the reaction. Each enzyme usually aids only one type of reaction.
Many enzymes work only in the presence of a smaller organic molecule, the coenzyme.
Humans Require CoQ10
All live foods contain one form or another of CoQ (CoQ1 to CoQ10). Humans require CoQ10. Humans can make CoQ10 out of other coenzymes (CoQ1 to CoQ9), or we can absorb it from our food. However, we cannot manufacture CoQ10 from simple nutrients or CoQ10ís building blocks. As we age, many of us lose our ability to efficiently make CoQ10 out of the other coenzyme Qís (CoQ1 to CoQ9). Thus, many persons will depend on their food for all of their CoQ10, and therefore it becomes a vitamin to those individuals. To make matters worse, foods lose coenzyme Qís (CoQ1 to CoQ10) with processing and storage.
Avoid "Mitochondrial Disorders" with CoQ10
About 95% of cellular energy is produced from structures in the cells called mitochondria. The mitochondria have been described as the cellsí "energy powerhouse," and the diseases of aging are increasingly being referred to as "mitochondrial disorders."
When CoQ10 is taken orally, it is incorporated into the mitochondria of cells throughout the body where it facilitates and regulates the oxidation of fats and sugars into energy.
Using the analogy of the automobile: ATP is the Bodyís fuel. The cellís engine is called the mitochondria. The enzyme that makes it all work is succinate dehydrogenase-coenzyme-Q10 reductase (CoQ10). The cells do not use the nutrients consumed in the diet for their immediate supply of energy. Instead, they prepare an energy-rich compound called adenosine triphosphate, or simply ATP.
Although ATP serves as the energy current for all cells, its quantity is limited. In fact, only about three ounces of ATP are stored in the body at any one time! This would provide only enough energy to sustain strenuous activity, such as running as fast as you can, for 5 to 8 seconds. Therefore, ATP must be constantly synthesized to provide a continuous supply of energy. If it were not constantly produced, our "fuel tanks" would read "empty" and all movement would cease. The foods we eat and store in ready access within the body provide the basic raw material to change into ATP with the help of CoQ10.
The body extracts the potential energy stored within the structure of carbohydrate, fat, and protein molecules consumed in the diet or stored in the body. This energy is harnessed for one major purpose, to combine adenosine and phosphate to form the energy-rich compound ATP.
Because the body must have available energy to carry on the simplest operation, for example breathing in oxygen and breathing out carbon dioxide, CoQ10 is considered essential for the health of all the body cells, tissues, and organs.
The metabolic pathways in which CoQ10 participates have been termed "bioenergetics" by Karl Folkers. Folkers was a pioneer researcher in the synthesis of CoQ10, since its initial source, from beef hearts, made the raw material quite expensive. The Japanese have used a fermentation process to produce CoQ10 for the mass market for several years. This has enabled six million Japanese to use this unique supplement on a daily basis at a low cost. Although the body can produce this substance, deficiencies have been reported in a wide range of clinical conditions.
Animal studies have shown that the decline in CoQ10 levels that occur with age may be partly responsible for age-related deterioration of the immune system. In one animal study, E.Z. Bliznakov (1978) found that CoQ10 declined by 80 percent in the course of normal aging. A decline of this magnitude in a human being would be fatal, but deficiencies approaching this have been observed in aged humans and are associated with grave heart disease.
A need for supplemental Co Q10 could arise for several reasons:
- Impaired CoQ10 synthesis due to nutritional deficiencies
- Genetic or acquired defect in CoQ10 synthesis
- Increased tissue needs resulting from illness
Because of its role in energy production, a deficiency of the enzyme could cause or aggravate many medical conditions.
If taken orally, CoQ10 can be taken up and utilized by the body. Because CoQ10 plays such an important role in energy production and can be administered orally, it is possible to correct a deficiency of the enzyme and the metabolic associated consequences by supplementing with it.
Treating Illness with CoQ10
It is no surprise research is discovering that the level of CoQ10 influences the development and course of many serious degenerative diseases. The heart is a major energy consumer and perhaps the organ whose function is most closely tied to CoQ10, which is highly concentrated in heart muscle cells. At least nine scientific (placebo-controlled) studies of CoQ10 supplements in the treatment of heart disease have been conducted; all found the supplements to be safe and effective.
In those with coronary heart disease, supplementation with CoQ10 reduces the frequency of anginal episodes and increases the amount of physical exercise a person can perform before they develop chest pain. The dosage in this instance is 30 milligrams once or twice a day.
Heart failure due to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and other causes is closely associated with low levels of CoQ10 in the body. In fact, the severity of heart failure is directly related to CoQ10 levels. CoQ10 helps heart muscle fibers contract, reducing the risk of heart attack, and it inhibits the formation of blood clots in vital arteries.
High Blood Pressure and Congestive Heart Failure
This powerful antioxidant helps the heart muscle in congestive heart failure, and reduces blood pressure in hypertensive patients. In a study of over 100 hypertensive patients, 50% were able to eliminate the need for medications after about four months of treatment with nothing but CoQ10. The patients took an average dose of 225 mg per day. Many of the patients who also had congestive heart failure improved dramatically.
Cardiomyopathy refers to disease of the heart muscle due to unknown causes, and there is early evidence that supplementation with CoQ10 may improve the function of a heart whose ability to pump blood has been reduced by this disorder. On a recent radio show, the host told me of a friend of hers who was on the waiting list for heart transplant because of his cardiomyopathy. After taking high doses of CoQ10, he recovered and did not need any other treatment.
MS and Huntingtonís Disease
Other muscles can also develop myopathies, at least some of which are associated with reduced levels of CoQ10, and supplementation appears to be of some benefit. Apparently because of its ability to increase energy production, CoQ10 supplements may be a blessing to people suffering from degenerative disorders of the nervous system such as muscular dystrophies and Huntingtonís disease.
Cancer is yet another degenerative disease for which CoQ10 supplements may be of some benefit. There is early evidence that cancer victims have reduced blood levels of CoQ10. Most exciting are the results of early studies suggesting that supplementation with CoQ10 may extend the lives of these victims. There are even published reports of cases in which metastases from breast cancer disappeared after patients started taking the supplement. However, as encouraging as these early reports may be, we really will not know the efficacy of CoQ10 in cancer treatment until formal scientific studies are conducted.
The pancreas is another organ that contains large amounts of CoQ10. In diabetes, a disease related to the activity of the pancreatic islet cells, CoQ10 blood levels are reduced along with the activity of mitochondrial enzymes that depend upon it. Exciting early studies, still awaiting scientific confirmation, suggest that supplementation with CoQ10 may partially normalize blood sugar metabolism in diabetics.
Scientists are now looking at the effects of CoQ10 on another organ whose cells also require a high level of energy metabolism ó the brain!
Here are the highlights from a study just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (1998; 95):
- When CoQ10 was administered to middle-age and old-age rats, the level of CoQ10 increased by 10% to 40% in the cerebral cortex region of the brain. This increase was sufficient to restore levels of CoQ10 to those seen in young animals.
- After only two months of CoQ10 supplementation, mitochondrial energy expenditure in the brain increased by 29%, compared with the group not getting CoQ10. The human equivalent dose of CoQ10 to achieve these results is 100 to 200 mg a day.
- When a neuro-toxin was administered, CoQ10 helped protect against damage to the striatal region of the brain where dopamine is produced.
- When CoQ10 was administered to rats genetically bred to develop amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrigís disease), a significant increase in survival time was observed.
- The scientists concluded: "CoQ10 can exert neuroprotective effects that might be useful in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases."
This new study showed that short-term supplementation with moderate amounts of CoQ10 produced profound anti-aging effects in the brain. Previous studies have shown that CoQ10 may protect the brain via several mechanisms, including reduction in free radical generation and protection against glutamate-inducted excito-toxicity. The study documented that orally supplemented CoQ10 specifically enhanced metabolic energy levels of brain cells. While this effect in the brain has been previously postulated, the new study provides hard-core evidence.
Based on the types of brain cell injury that CoQ10 protected against, the scientists suggested that it may be useful in the prevention or treatment of Huntingtonís disease and ALS. It was noted that while vitamin E delays the onset of ALS in mice, it does not increase survival time. CoQ10 was suggested as a more effective treatment strategy than vitamin E for neuro-degenerative disease because survival time was increased in mice treated with CoQ10.
In a report published in the Annals of Neurology (August 1997), a new mechanism was identified that showed that CoQ10 might be effective in the prevention and treatment of Parkinsonís disease.
This study showed that the brain cells of Parkinsonís patients have a specific impairment that causes the disruption of healthy mitochondrial function. It is known that "mitochondrial disorder" causes cells in the substantia nigra region of the brain to malfunction and die, thus creating a shortage of dopamine.
An interesting finding was that CoQ10 levels in Parkinsonís patients were 35% lower than age-matched controls. This deficit of CoQ10 caused a significant reduction in the activity of enzyme complexes that are critical to the mitochondrial function of the brain cells affected by Parkinsonís disease.
The ramifications of this study are significant. Parkinsonís disease is becoming more prevalent as the human life span increases. The new study confirms previous studies that Parkinsonís disease may be related to CoQ10 dificiency. The conclusion of the scientists:
"The causes of Parkinsonís disease are unknown. Evidence suggests that mitochondrial dysfunction and oxygen free radicals may be involved in its pathogenesis. The dual function of CoQ10 as a constituent of the mitochondrial electron transport chain and a potent antioxidant suggest that it has the potential to slow the progression of Parkinsonís diesase."
CoQ10 levels decrease with aging. Depletion is caused by reduced synthesis of CoQ10 in the body, along with increased oxidation of CoQ10 in the mitochondria. A CoQ10 deficit results in the inactivation of enzymes needed for mitochondrial energy production, whereas supplementation with CoQ10 preserves mitochondrial function.
Aged humans have only 50% of the CoQ10 that young adults have, thus making CoQ10 one of the most important nutrients for people to supplement.
Drugs That Inhibit CoQ10 Activity
Many drugs inhibit the activity of the important enzymes that benefit from the presence of CoQ10. Adriamycin, for example, a potent drug used in the treatment of cancer, may interfere with the function of the heart because of this. Other drugs that antagonize CoQ10 include lovastatin (a cholesterol-lowering agent), beta-adrenergic blocking (blood pressure lowering) agents, sulfonylureas (blood sugar-lowering agents), phenothiazines (antipsychotic tranquilizers) and tricyclic antidepressants. Usually 100 milligrams a day is roughly the therapeutic dose. However, since the absorption of CoQ10 varies from person to person, some people need tow to three times this amount to attain a comparable level. Dry forms are generally less effective than oil-based forms, and the supplement is better absorbed when taken with a fatty food.
While the picture is somewhat cloudy at present, perhaps blood levels of CoQ10 should become a routine laboratory test ó particularly when a person is suffering from a disorder known to be associated with reduced levels of the coenzyme. If the blood level is found to be low, then supplements could be given to raise the level into the normal range. (However, it is possible that blood levels could remain normal while levels in the affected tissues have been depleted.)
Even if you are free of serious medical conditions, CoQ10 can help you eliminate minor ailments and fine-tune your health.
A review of seven studies found that 70 percent of 332 people with periodontal disease responded to CoQ10 supplements. In one case, an elderly woman with severe gum disease who was unable to eat solid food had her condition almost completely reversed following three months of CoQ10 therapy.
There is some evidence that obesity is correlated with low levels of CoQ10. In one study, about half of a group of 27 obese patients had reduced levels of CoQ10. In another intriguing study, the CoQ10 levels of nine obese patients were assessed. The patients were ten placed on a low-calorie diet and given CoQ10 supplements. Surprisingly, the mean weight loss of the five patients who started the study with reduced CoQ10 levels was significantly greater than in the rest of the group. If these findings can be confirmed in larger studies, perhaps one out of every two overweight patient may lose weight more easily with CoQ10 supplements.
We currently have no evidence that healthy people who are not deficient in the coenzyme benefit from taking CoQ10 supplements, even though many people try it to see if it gives them an energy boost.
How Much CoQ10 Should You Take?
To reduce angina pectoris (chest pain): 30 milligrams once or twice a day.
To minimize the toxicity of chemotherapy: 30 milligrams per day.
To help lose weight: 50 milligrams twice daily.
To alleviate gum disease: 25 milligrams twice daily.
CoQ10, Is It Our New Fountain of Youth? by William H. Lee, R.Ph.,, Ph.D., 1987
CoQ10 by Deanne Tenney, 1996
Greatlife magazine, February 1998
Natureís Impact magazine, February/March 1998
The Life Extension Foundation magazine, Hotlines, November 1998, (800) 841-5433