Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a compound known as a proenzyme, because it is converted to an enzyme within the body. It is made by the body itself, is found in almost every cell, and plays a major role in energy metabolism and the breaking down of free radicals. Free radicals are known to damage DNA, cell membranes, and essentially drive the aging process. Most healthy individuals can make enough CoQ10 to meet the body’s demands, as long as there is enough vitamin B6 available, which is required for synthesis. However, research has shown that tissue levels of CoQ10 decrease as we age. In addition, certain health conditions and medications have been linked with low blood levels of CoQ10. This has been observed consistently in those taking medications that interfere with the action of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, such as statin drugs. The same thing has been observed in individuals with diabetes, cancer, congestive heart failure, and hereditary disorders that interfere with CoQ10 metabolism.
Additional CoQ10 consumption may be helpful in many of these cases. Although no recommended daily allowance currently exists for CoQ10, good dietary sources include beef, fish, chicken, and whole grains. Unfortunately, CoQ10 has a low absorption rate when consumed; therefore an increase in food sources alone will most likely not raise CoQ10 levels enough to provide therapeutic benefit. Much research has been done regarding the effects of medications and health conditions on CoQ10 levels, as well as the results of oral CoQ10 supplementation. Up until a few years ago, supplemental CoQ10 was indeed shown to be effective at increasing plasma levels, but larger scale studies solidifying the connection between these higher blood levels and positive clinical outcomes were few. Still, the consensus over the safety of supplemental CoQ10 is well-documented and therefore many practitioners have been recommending it for some time now for various health conditions.
In the past several years, more double-blind randomized placebo controlled studies have been done on supplemental CoQ10. These types of studies are considered the gold standard in research. The benefits of supplemental CoQ10 continue to be confirmed, particularly for decreasing muscle pain in those taking statin drugs, in those with mitochondrial dysfunction, for the prevention of migraines, and as an adjunct to pharmaceutical treatments for heart failure. It has also been found that vitamin E works synergistically with CoQ10 to combat free radicals, making the combination of the two a powerful antioxidant. One study showed that supplementation with both CoQ10 and vitamin E had a greater effect on preventing atherosclerotic plaque than either one taken alone. CoQ10 in the form of softgels has been found to be better absorbed and since it is a fat-soluble compound, the addition of vitamin E (also fat-soluble) aids in absorption as well. Therapeutic doses usually range from 100-300 mg per day. CoQ10 Plus by HoltraCeuticals has been specifically formulated with these findings in mind in order to offer a high quality CoQ10 supplement.
Since cardiac cells have high concentrations of CoQ10, much of the research surrounding depletion and supplementation has revolved around heart-related conditions. However, one study published a few months ago in the journal Nutrients, found that patients with non-alchoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) had decreased plasma and liver concentrations of CoQ10. And because it is already established that CoQ10 is hepato-protective and reduces oxidative stress and inflammation (two processes that play a role in NAFLD), this may prove to be a new application for CoQ10 supplementation pending further research. Neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, is another promising application for CoQ10. Authors of a study published in January concluded that antioxidants such as CoQ10 may be helpful in symptom management, especially when combined with other antioxidants. Supplemental CoQ10 may interact with certain medications, such as some chemotherapy and blood-thinning drugs. Check with a healthcare practitioner before taking CoQ10, especially if you are taking any medications.
Coenzyme Q10. Linus Pauling Institute. Available at: http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/dietary-factors/coenzyme-Q10 Accessed on March 12, 2016.
Coenzyme Q10. University of Maryland Medical Center. Available at: http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/coenzyme-q10 Accessed on March 12, 2016.
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