On Mercola.com, Dr. Joseph Mercola explains the benefits of coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10. He writes:
Coenzyme Q10 or simply CoQ10, (ubiquinone) is a fat-soluble molecule that is found in all cells of your body. It plays a crucial role in the electron transport chain, which is a series of reactions that occur in the mitochondria to generate energy in the form of ATP.1
In addition to its role in energy production, CoQ10 also has antioxidant properties. It can neutralize harmful free radicals and protect cells from oxidative damage. This is particularly important in mitochondria, as the electron transport chain can sometimes leak electrons, leading to the formation of free radicals. CoQ10 helps prevent this leakage and reduces the risk of oxidative stress.
It is worth noting that the quality and composition of CoQ10 supplements can vary. Some commercially available CoQ10 products may be dissolved in vegetable oil, which can affect the interaction between it and other molecules. This may have implications for its respiratory function and potential toxicity for mitochondria.
“CoQ10 is essential for the health of virtually all human tissues and organs,” a review in the Journal of Pharmacy & BioAllied Sciences notes.2 While it’s found throughout the body in cell membranes, it’s most abundant in your heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, spleen, pancreas and adrenal glands.3
As the third most consumed dietary supplement,4 CoQ10’s reputation for health and wellness has gotten around, but its clinical relevance is still very much underappreciated. And the same holds true for ubiquinol — the reduced, electron-rich form of CoQ10 that your body produces naturally.
How CoQ10 Benefits Your Health
CoQ10 protects cellular membranes from oxidative stress induced by free radicals. It also has anti-inflammatory properties. Supplementing with 60 milligrams (mg) to 500 mg of CoQ10 for eight to 12 weeks can significantly reduce tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), IL-6 and C-reactive protein (CRP);5,6 three measures of widespread inflammation, impacting a number of chronic diseases. CoQ10 also plays a role in a number of other important functions, including:7
Cholesterol metabolism Regeneration of vitamins C and E Maintaining lysosomal pH Sulfur metabolism Amino acid metabolism Gene expression
Heart health, however, is CoQ10’s claim to fame. Many conditions, including heart disease, appear to be rooted in mitochondrial dysfunction.8 Cardiac muscle cells have about 5,000 mitochondria per cell,9 where CoQ10 concentrates. For further comparison, mitochondria make up about 35% of the volume of cardiac tissue and only 3% to 8% of the volume of skeletal muscle tissue.10
Further, scavenging of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and a reduction in oxidative stress are an essential part of keeping the heart functioning normally,11 including helping to ward off atrial fibrillation.12
Atrial fibrillation is an abnormal, often rapid, heart rhythm that occurs when the atria, your heart’s upper chambers, beat out of sync with the ventricles, the heart’s lower chambers. It’s a common symptom in those with heart failure or heart disease.
In one study, 102 patients with atrial fibrillation were divided into two groups. One group was given a CoQ10 supplement while the other group was given a placebo. After 12 months of supplementation, 12 people in the placebo group had atrial fibrillation episodes compared to only three people in the CoQ10 group.13 Levels of malondialdehyde, a known biomarker of oxidative stress, also went down significantly in the CoQ10 group.
A systematic review and meta-analysis of cardiovascular risk factors spanning 884 randomized controlled trials with 883,627 participants also found CoQ10 decreased all-cause mortality events.14 Meanwhile, CoQ10 influences several other aspects of heart health, including:
- High blood pressure — CoQ10 acts directly on your endothelium, dilating your blood vessels and lowering blood pressure.15,16 CoQ10 also decreases aldosterone, a hormone that makes you retain salt and water.17,18 When aldosterone goes down, excess salt and water are excreted through your kidneys, often causing your blood pressure to go down.
- Stroke — Systemic inflammation, oxidative stress and nerve cell damage play a role in the development of stroke. Research suggests supplementing with CoQ10 can reduce ischemic lesions and improve outcomes in patients who have been treated with a statin drug after having a stroke (statins reduce CoQ10 levels in your body).19
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