The Sustainable Diets Blog

Eating, Wellness, Gardening, Recipes and Loving our Planet. By Teri Underwood.

Supplement Facts: Coenzyme Q 10

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a vitamin-like substance produced in our body that is important to health. Found in all cells, CoQ10 is needed for energy production. It is a cofactor in our predominant energy pathways—the Krebs cycle and the electron transport chain. As an antioxidant it scavenges and destroys oxidative damaging chemicals involved in the aging and disease process. Although CoQ10 is found in meat, sardines, brown rice, grains, nuts and some vegetables, it is not enough to meet human health needs. We need to either produce enough CoQ10 inside our cells or supplement to maintain adequate health.

Muscles and metabolically active organs, particularly the heart, pancreas, kidney, and liver have the highest concentration of CoQ10 which declines with age. Deficiencies can lead to fatigue, health decline, and a decrease in organ function. Deficiencies may occur on Statin drugs because the production of CoQ10 and cholesterol share the same metabolic pathway that is blocked by the drug. Muscle disease in Statin therapy has been shown to improve with CoQ10 supplementation. Studies also suggest lower tissue levels in heart disease and cancer. There are tests available to assess for deficiencies.

Supplement and Health

CoQ 10 is currently the subject of much investigation. Although the evidence is not conclusive some research has shown it may be helpful for Fibromyalgia, periodontal disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, muscle toxicity, Parkinson’s disease, High Blood Pressure, diabetes, preventing statin-induced myopathy, and in athletes. In endurance exercisers constant cellular energy production is needed to power movement. CoQ10, involved in the energy production in the mitochondria, may become depleted with prolonged exercise. Some investigations, but not all, have found CoQ10 supplements may boost exercise performance. A recent meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials found evidence of increased heart function in congestive heart disease subjects after supplementation.

Safety and Precautions:

Because the supplement industry is unregulated it is very important to find out about the company producing the supplement before you purchase. Some supplements may be labeled incorrectly, contain contaminants, or be less potent than what is stated on the label. When a supplement is designed, physiological factors need to be considered. For example, in the case of CoQ10 it is important to consider tissue uptake and absorption. Since it is a large fat-loving molecule, CoQ10 absorption is slow and limited. There are several professional brands of CoQ10 that have been formulated by biological scientists to enhance absorption. When I recommend Coenzyme Q10 for a client I make sure to recommend a brand that is produced in a science-based, reputable, FDA-inspected, NSF-GMP registered facility that does testing on their products for identity, potency, environmental contaminants, and oxidation and that is inspected by third party laboratories.

Coenzyme Q10 appears to be generally safe with no major side effects, except occasional stomach upset. The observed safety level is 1200/mg day in adults. However, studies have not been done to determine if CoQ10 supplements are safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding. In addition, CoQ10 may interact with certain medications and may lower blood sugar, so people on medications or with diabetes should talk with their health care provider before taking it to avoid any risk.



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