Coenzyme Q-10 is one of the most important nutrients for good heart health and a strong cardiovascular system; it's an essential supplement for anyone taking statin drugs to reduce cholesterol levels. CoQ-10 also invaluable for its ability to regenerate other members of the antioxidant network; specifically, glutathione, vitamin E and vitamin C. The benefits of CoQ-10 also include improvement of brain function, increase of energy and stamina, and prevention of gum disease, as well as many others.
What are coenzymes? Coenzymes are nutrients whose primary task is to work with the enzymes in your cells to convert food into energy. Most of the B vitamins, many of the minerals, and other compounds named quinones are considered coenzymes. One such quinone is called ubiquinone, derived from the word ubiquitous, which means "found everywhere." It is more commonly referred to by the name Coenzyme Q-10; CoQ-10 for short.
CoQ-10 is found in each and every one of your cells — most of it in the mitochondria of the cell, the part that is responsible for creating energy. The highest concentrations of CoQ-10 are found in the heart, twice as much as any other organ in your body. Your brain has the next highest concentration, followed by the kidneys and liver. Any deficiency of CoQ-10 will have a significant impact on these organs first.
Mitochondrial decline leads to development of chronic disease. Damage to mitochondria is directly related to a loss of energy as you age. A 90 year old person typically has damage to 95% of their mitochondria. Researchers are beginning to connect the development of diseases such as Alzheimer's, type 2 diabetes, heart failure and cancer to mitochondrial decline and failure.
Mitochondria contain their own DNA and are extremely vulnerable to free radical damage that disables the energy producing capacity of the cell. Many biologists now believe that the health of your mitochondria determines your long-term health and longevity.
CoQ-10 is one of the antioxidants that your body is able to manufacture, along with other network antioxidants glutathione and lipoic acid. However, your production of CoQ-10 peaks at about the age of 20, and declines as you age.
By the time you reach old age,
your levels of CoQ-10 will have fallen
to about one-half or less
of their peak level.
In addition, the process of making CoQ-10 in your body is a complex, 17-stage process that involves 8 vitamins and several trace minerals. That means that a lot of variables have to fall in line just right in order for your body to produce enough CoQ-10 for itself.
Dietary Sources. Although some CoQ-10 is found in salmon and some organ meats, it is nearly impossible to get significant amounts from your diet alone.
You'd have to eat a whole pound of sardines or beef liver, or more than two pounds of peanuts to get the amount of CoQ-10 in one 30mg capsule, a relatively low dose in common supplements.
Supplementing with CoQ-10. Clearly, CoQ-10 is a nutrient that you want to get plenty of. Because CoQ-10 is in short supply in your body as you age, it makes sense to supplement your diet with this powerful antioxidant.
If you're thinking about adding coenzyme Q-10 supplements to your diet, you'll want to read some important information about them at my page on CoQ-10 Supplements.