What is Coenzyme Q10?
Coenzyme Q10 is a vitamin-like substance used in the treatment of a variety of disorders primarily related to suboptimal cellular energy metabolism and oxidative injury.
Ubiquinone, or Coenzyme Q10, was discovered in 1957 by Fred Crane. Its chemical structure was determined a few years later by Karl Folkers, who later won the Priestley medal from the American Chemical Society. Coenzyme Q10 plays an important role in the production of chemical energy in the mitochondria. In its reduced form, ubiquinol, Coenzyme Q10 also serves as an antioxidant. Ubiquinol inhibits lipid peroxidation in biological membranes and in low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and it also protects membrane proteins against oxidative damage. While ubiquinol does not require vitamin E for its antioxidant activity, it can regenerate the vitamin from its oxidized form, the alpha-tocopheroxyl radical, a process that otherwise relies on water-soluble vitamin C. This interaction with vitamin E is thought to be particularly important for the protection of LDL and other lipoproteins from oxidative damage, and we now have evidence that directly supports an antioxidant function of ubiquinol against LDL oxidation in blood vessels. On the other hand, the discovery of the semiquinone form of Coenzyme Q10 in the mitochondria raises the question of a possible role of the ubisemiquinone radical in the generation of superoxide radicals in the course of respiration. However, to date there is no convincing evidence that Coenzyme Q10 acts as a pro-oxidant in vivo.
Benefits of taking Coenzyme Q10 supplements:
Coenzyme Q10 is sold in the US as a dietary supplement.The Q and the 10 in coenzyme Q10 refer to parts of the compound’s chemical structure. It is also known as CoQ10, Q10, vitamin Q10, ubiquinone, or ubidecarenone.
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter study11 of 80 patients found that 1,200 mg per day of coenzyme Q10 was associated with up to 44 percent less functional decline in patients with Parkinson’s disease, including activities of daily living. A study12 of 28 patients with Parkinson’s disease also demonstrated mild symptom improvement with daily oral dosing of 360 mg of coenzyme Q10.
Coenzyme Q10 may have a place in the treatment of some neurological diseases. A placebo-controlled clinical trial of coenzyme Q10 suggested that it can slow the rate of deterioration in patients with early-stage Parkinson disease. The consumption of up to 800 mg/day of coenzyme Q10 was well-tolerated. The trial was funded by NIH and appeared in the Archives of Neurology in 2002.
In studies13–15 with eight to 44 patients, coenzyme Q10 also has demonstrated positive trends in reducing symptoms associated with selected mitochondrial abnormalities including the mitochondrial encephalopathy, lactic acidosis, and stroke-like episodes (MELAS) syndrome, Kearns-Sayre syndrome, and the myoclonus epilepsy with ragged-red fibers (MERRhF) syndrome. Maximum effect often requires six or more months of therapy.13–15 One type of coenzyme Q10, UbiQGel, was granted U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) orphan drug status for treatment of mitochondrial cytopathies based on several small trials.
A preliminary open label trial17 of 32 patients taking 150 mg of coenzyme Q10 daily demonstrated efficacy in reducing the frequency of migraine attacks. A recent randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled trial18 of 42 patients taking coenzyme Q10 at 300 mg a day found similar benefit. The response rate (i.e., decrease in headache frequency by 50 percent or more) was 47.6 percent in the coenzyme Q10 group and 14.4 percent in the placebo group.
Coenzyme Q10 and Aging
The antioxidant power of Coenzyme Q10 also makes it an excellent natural anti-aging solution. Free radicals are destroyed, energy and vitality is increased and cells are brought back to a stable, healthy condition that might have been lost during mid-life. According to a published scientific study Coenzyme Q10 prevents skeletal decline by improving communication between genes and cells in the body.
CoQ10 and Cancer Treatment
A study done in 1961 found that patients with cancer had decreased levels of CoQ10 in their bodies. Research indicates the use of CoQ10 is an effective secondary therapy in cancer treatment as it has been known to shrink tumors, reduce pain and cause a partial or full remission of cancer.
Coenzyme Q10 has also been of interest for cancer therapy. However, no report of a randomized clinical trial of coenzyme Q10 as a treatment for cancer had been published in a peer-reviewed, scientific journal as of July, 2004.
Coenzyme Q10 has been considered for improving glycemic control through various mechanisms, including a decrease in oxidative stress. Two earlier randomized controlled trails35,36 using 100 to 200 mg of coenzyme Q10 in patients with type 1 or 2 diabetes found no difference in glycemic control and insulin requirement. A more recent randomized controlled trial (n = 74)37 using 200 mg per day for 12 weeks found modest improvements in A1C levels (−0.37 ± 0.17 percent,P = .32).
Side effects and safety of Coenzyme Q10
No absolute contraindications are known for coenzyme Q10, although reliable information about its use in pregnant or breastfeeding mothers or in young children is not available. Adverse effects with coenzyme Q10 are rare. On average, mild gastrointestinal discomfort is reported in less than 1 percent of patients in clinical trials.
Dosage of Coenzyme Q10 supplement:
The average daily dosing for adults nineteen or older is between 30mg to 150mg per day. It is important to take with food that has some fat in it, such as peanut or almond butter, for maximum absorption.