Coenzyme Q10: Strange-Sounding Compound Vital to Our Health
Coenzyme Q10 or CoQ10 is a vitamin-like substance found in many of our cells It is essential in numerous cellular level processes from converting fat and carbohydrate energy to the form used by our cells, to protecting our DNA from free radical damage. Its level reduces due to certain illnesses and as we age. There is strong medical evidence that CoQ10 supplementation can be very beneficial in combating a wide range of serious diseases.
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Coenzyme Q10 or CoQ10 is a fat-soluble crystalline powder found in the membranes of many of our cell's specialized sub-unit known as organelles.
Though not a vitamin, it is sometimes referred to as vitamin Q10, because the manner of its absorption in our bodies is similar to that of Vitamin E. CoQ10 is what's called a ubiquinone compound due to its ubiquitous presence in living organisms and because it contains a functional group called a benzoquinone.
The "10" in its name refers to a characteristic of its atomic structure: it has a tail of ten isoprene units, each with five carbon atoms.
Coenzyme Q10 is essential to the well-being of all animals, including humans, for numerous reasons. One is its vital role in the conversion of the energy in fats and carbohydrates to a form of energy that can be used by our cells.
The exact manner in which CoQ10 carries out this and many of its other complex sub-cellular tasks is still not fully understood. However, the importance of its role in our health is not in dispute.
In conjunction with reducing enzymes, it acts as a very important cellular antioxidant and is essential in protecting our DNA from free radical damage.
CoQ10 is biosynthesized in human tissue through complex processes in which pyridoxal phosphate (Vitamin B6) plays a vital role.
Apart from the CoQ10 manufactured by our bodies, we also obtain it through our diet, mainly from beet fish, and poultry (meat), and in lesser amounts from nuts, vegetable, fruit, and eggs.
Though very reliable figures are difficult to find, anecdotal evidence suggests that the average daily dietary intake of CoQ10 in Western countries is less than ten milligrams.
CoQ10 levels in some tissues decrease with age as do the plasma levels in patients suffering from serious diseases like congestive heart failure, cancer, diabetes, muscular dystrophies, Parkinson's disease, and HIV/AIDS. Some prescription drugs also lower CoQ10 levels.
CoQ10 can be taken as a dietary supplement and is available without prescription in most Western countries including the US.
Though it is claimed that CoQ10 supplementation is beneficial in tackling a huge range of conditions, there is conflicting evidence to back up some of these claims.
However, it is widely accepted by the medical profession that CoQ10 supplementation is therapeutically beneficial in dealing with many conditions, especially when taken in conjunction with other treatments.
There are promising indications that CoQ10 supplementation helps reduce age-related DNA damage and compelling evidence of its beneficial effects in helping the body fight atherosclerosis.
It appears to attack the latter disease in two different ways. First, tests suggest that it can inhibit the formation of atherosclerotic lesions. The formation of these lesions in mice was significantly inhibited by the administration of CoQ10.
A second important factor in the development of atherosclerosis is monocyte expression of integrins, which migrate to the walls of blood vessels. In clinical tests, it was shown that this expression of integrins was significantly reduced in a group of human subjects who took 200 milligrams of CoQ10 supplementation daily for ten weeks.
Patients with some inherited genetic disorders like mitochondrial encephalomyopathies have responded very positively to CoQ10 supplementation and those with widespread tissue deficiency of CoQ10 have also shown big improvements after supplementation.
Apart from the above, promising evidence indicates that CoQ10 supplementation is beneficial in the following cases:
• In patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease, it slows down dementia.
• In patients with hypertension (blood pressure) it reduces blood pressure.
• After lesion-removal surgery in patients with melanoma, it helps decrease the rate of recurrence.
• After major heart surgeries, like coronary artery bypass or valve replacement, the heart's function may be improved if the patient is given CoQ10 before or during surgery.
• Patients with muscular dystrophy report improvements in heart function and ability to exercise.
• In addition, CoQ10 shows promising results in the treatment of Parkinson's disease, Friedreich's ataxia, mitral valve prolapse in children, and kidney failure.
The above list of conditions that studies suggest benefit from CoQ10 supplementation is far from exhaustive. This is why considerable research into its effectiveness in the treatment of a much wider range of disorders continues unabated and why medical experts are so excited about it.
Much of the research is at a relatively early stage. Nevertheless, as an increasing number of studies reach completion, additional positive evidence of the remarkable curative properties of this mysterious-sounding compound emerges almost weekly.