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Vitamins, Minerals and Dietary Supplements

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Coenzyme Q10

What is coenzyme Q10? Why do we need it?

Coenzyme Q10 is a substance found in the mitochondria of every cell in the body. It plays a role in the process that creates ATP, making it essential for energy production. Although Q10 is classified as an antioxidant, there has been some discussion as to whether it should be reclassified as a vitamin.

There is mounting research that suggests Q10 can play a vital role in the treatment of several conditions, particularly those related to the cardiovascular system. Q10 can reverse or prevent heart lesions associated with angina, hypertension and congestive heart failure. Supplementation with Q10 can reduce high blood pressure in patients with a coenzyme deficiency. It may be beneficial in controlling abnormal heart rhythms, and may protect the heart during surgery or a heart attack.

Additional studies have shown that Q10 supplementation may have a positive effect in the treatment of breast cancer, diabetes, immune deficiency, muscular dystrophy and periodontal disease. When used in conjunction with an exercise routine, Q10 can improve heart rate and maximal oxygen consumption.

How much coenzyme Q10 should I take?

The generally recommended dose for coenzyme Q10 is 25mg twice daily. Some researchers have experimented with larger doses for the following conditions:

Heart disease: 100mg a day

Enhancing athletic performance: 60mg a day for four to eight weeks

Potential prevention of cancers: 400mg per day

What are some good sources of coenzyme Q10? What forms are available?

Coenzyme Q10 is found in every plant and animal cell. The best dietary sources include oily fish, organ meats (such as liver) and whole grains.

In addition to food sources, coenzyme Q10 supplements are available in several forms, including gel capsules, hard capsules, tablets and sprays. Because Q10 is oil-soluble, it should be taken with a meal that contains oil.

What can happen if I don’t get enough coenzyme Q10? What can happen if I take too much? Are there any side-effects I should be aware of?

Most people get enough Q10 in their diet. However, levels of Q10 can decline in elderly people or patients with certain health conditions, so supplementation may be necessary for these subjects. A lack of Q10 can eventually lead to heart failure.

In addition, no definitive studies have been conducted on Q10 supplementation during pregnancy or while breast-feeding. Women who are pregnant or lactating should consult with a health care provider before taking Q10 supplements.

References

  • Chopra RK, Goldman R, Sinatra ST, Bhagavan HN. Relative bioavailability of coenzyme Q10 formulations in human subjects. Int J Vitam Nutr Res 1998;68:109-113.
  • Matthews RT, Yang L, Browne S, Baik M, Beal MF. Coenzyme Q10 administration increases brain mitochondrial concentrations and exerts neuroprotective effects. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA July 21, 1998;95:8892-8897.
  • Murray MT. Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1996, pp. 296-308.
  • Shils ME, Olson JA, Shike M, Ross AC. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease, 9th ed. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins, 1999, pp. 90-92, 1377-1378.
  • Sinatra S. The Coenzyme Q10 Phenomenon. New Canaan, CT: Keats Publishing, Inc., 1998, pp. 127-129.

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