by Tony Isaacs
(The Best Years in Life) Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a naturally occurring oil-soluble, vitamin-like substance which is absolutely essential for optimum health and longevity. Also known as ubiquinone, CoQ10 is found in virtually every cell in the body, primarily in cellular mitochondria, and it is a vital component of the electron transport chain which generates 95 percent of the body's energy via adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
CoQ10 is vital for the heart
Organs with the highest energy requirements - such as the heart, liver, and kidney - have the highest concentrations of CoQ10. Adequate CoQ10 is particularly vital for the cardiovascular health. It is thus ironic as well as tragic that statin drugs which are prescribed for reputed heart benefits lower CoQ10 production by up to 40%. For more information statin drug dangers, see:
Prominent heart doctor exposes the myths about cholesterol, statins and low fat diets
As we age, we lose much of our supply of CoQ10, particularly in the heart. At the age of 80, for example, CoQ10 levels are cut by more than half. CoQ10 benefits and protects the heart in many ways, including helping lowering high blood pressure and preventing the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. The effectiveness and safety of CoQ10 in the treatment of congestive heart failure has been well established by numerous studies. One recent study also found that CoQ10 can improve survival after a cardiac arrest.
Other CoQ10 benefits and the dangers of CoQ10 deficiency
CoQ10 is also an important antioxidant which inhibits both the initiation and the propagation of lipid and protein oxidation. Additionally, it regenerates other antioxidants such as vitamin E. One recent study demonstrated that low doses of CoQ10 reduced oxidation and DNA double-strand breaks, and that a combination of CoQ10 and a diet rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids leads to a longer lifespan.
Low CoQ10 levels have been observed in cancer patients, while treatment with CoQ10 has been shown to be effective against cancer. CoQ10 has also been found to be beneficial for migraine headaches and some studies have indicated that it may help provide better brain health and function.
Lack of CoQ10 can cause Rhabdomyolysis, which is the breakdown of muscle fibers that leads to the release of muscle fiber contents (myoglobin) into the bloodstream. Myoglobin often causes kidney damage. Notably, rhabdomyolysis has often been observed in patients who take statin drugs.
Inadequate CoQ10 levels have been noted in incidences of chronic heart failure, end stage AIDS and other overwhelming illnesses.
Supplementation and food sources for CoQ10
In addition to the body, CoQ10 is also found in relatively small amounts in a wide variety of foods, with the highest amounts found in organ meats such as heart, liver and kidney, as well as beef, sardines, mackerel, and peanuts. Other food items with modest amounts of CoQ10 include grapeseed oil, walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, parsley, spinach, sesame seeds, olive oil and avocado.
Food sources alone may not be enough for those deficient in CoQ10. To put dietary CoQ10 intake into perspective, one pound of sardines, two pounds of beef, or two and one half pounds of peanuts, provide only 30 mg of CoQ10.
Fortunately, no known toxicity or side effects have been observed in supplemental CoQ10. CoQ10 shows a moderate variability in its absorption, with some patients attaining good blood levels of CoQ10 on 100 mg per day while others require two or three times this amount to attain the same blood level.
Supplementation with CoQ10 has been studied in amounts as high as 3600 mg per day with largely only gastrointestinal side effects observed. The observed safe level (OSL) risk assessment method indicated evidence of safety is strong at intakes up to 1200 mg/day.
Sources for this article included: