CoQ10 – “Spark and Dampener”
On this page:
Coenzyme Q10 is a vitamin-like nutrient vital to our well-being:
(1)“Spark”- In its essential role in the production of cellular energy - CoQ10 is a relatively large, worm-shaped quinone molecule, called UBIQUINONE because it was found to be ubiquitous (i.e. everywhere) in the body –discovered by Fred Crane, Phd. in 1957 in his quest to find the ”Missing link”in the mitochondrial energy-producing process.
(2)“Dampener”- as a powerful antioxidant in the mitochondria (cells'energy production factories) and cell membranes - CoQ10 is the only fat-soluble antioxidant synthesized by the body, but production diminishes significantly with age - for some, CoQ10 levels within the heart and kidneys have dropped more than 25% by age 40.
CoQ10 sports an impressive resumÃ©:
Boosts energy/stamina – provides the “spark”for your body's cells to produce energy; Can improve athletic performance;
Powerful Fat-soluble Antioxidant – most diseases involve inflammation as a consequence of oxidative damage; the active form of CoQ10 (called ubiquinol) prevents an inflammatory reaction by protecting against free radical damage in fats (e.g. cholesterol, polyunsaturated oils) or fatty areas (E.g. all cell membranes are composed of fatty acids, the brain is 2/3 fat, the protective myelin sheath covering communicating neurons is 70% fat). Cardiovascular diseasesand wrinkled skin resulting fromUV oxidation are well-known examples of oxidative stress, but also, oxidation in the brain is implicated in neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's, ALS, M.S., Huntington's, Alzheimer's and cerebral palsy.
Supports cardiovascular health – promotes healthy circulation, efficient cardiac function, protects LDL cholesterol from oxidation (the forerunner to atherosclerosis) and helps maintain normal blood pressure; a healthy blood supply also supports brain function.
Reduces signs of aging – you feel more alert, responsive and energetic. Antioxidant ability prevents and reduces wrinkles in the skin;
Supports immune and nervous systems – your brain is very active and requires a constant energy supply. CoQ10 provides immune system with a vital free radical defense E.g. in allergies;
Replenishes CoQ10 depleted when taking a cholesterol-lowering statin drug or beta-blockers
Supports body's ability to control blood sugar
Anti-mutagenic - preliminary studies show CoQ10 to be anti-mutagenic (cancer cells develop through mutagenesis)
Protects the liver when using certain medications
What does CoQ10 do in the body?
-CoQ10 is the fundamental ingredient for energy production in every cell
CoQ10 IGNITES the spark for energy production in the cell mitochondria (the energy production “factories”inside our cells) - CoQ10 shuttles electrons (extracted from food) back and forth between enzymes in the cell mitochondria in the process of making ATP molecules (the cells energy “currency”).
Without adequate amounts of CoQ10, the heart does not have enough energy to pump the blood efficiently - the heart has the highest concentration of CoQ10. It has been reported that death can occur if the CoQ10 level in the heart decreases below 75% of normal.
In more detail
CoQ10 is a crucial component of the electron transport chain (respiratory chain) in the mitochondria where energy derived by a process called oxidative phosphorylation from the products of fatty acid, protein and carbohydrate metabolism is converted into biological energy called adenosine triphosphate (ATP) that drives cellular machinery and all biosynthetic processes. CoQ10 functions as an essential cofactor for the activities of the enzyme systems called complexes I, II and III in the electron transport chain. It shuttles electrons from complex I (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide dehydrogenase) and Complex II (succinate dehydrogenase) to complex III (ubiquinone-cytochrome c reductase) by virtue of its redox (reduction-oxidation) properties. It is during this process of electron transfer along the electron transport chain that vital biological energy as ATP is generated.
- CoQ10 is one of the “Super Antioxidants”
Of hundreds of antioxidants, there is a select group of networking antioxidants that are particularly effective at slowing the aging process and boosting the body's ability to fight disease, these are:
CoQ10, Glutathione and Lipoic Acid – can be made by the body, but levels decrease with age, and their deficiency is responsible for most premature deaths.
Vitamins C and E – must be obtained from food or supplements, since we can not make them.
CoQ10 “snuffs out”damaging free radicals produced in the mitochondrial energy -producing process and other systems in the body, and also from sources outside the body. As such, this fat-soluble antioxidant helps protect vital structures from free radical damage.
Most important is COQ10's antioxidant protection inside the mitochondria - CoQ10 is a broad spectrum AO protecting not just arteries, but also brain, liver, muscles, nerves and other systems.
CoQ10 is a primary AO protector of LDL cholesterol – CoQ10 prevents cholesterol from becoming oxidized, a cause of arterial plaque build-up leading to arterial blockage.
CoQ10 helps maintain membrane stability
CoQ10 regenerates Vitamin C and E – CoQ10 also partners with vitamin C to keep vitamin E under control –preventing it from becoming unstable.
CoQ10 activates Genes in nuclear DNA to turn back the Cellular Clock
According to Australian Anthony Linnane's latest research - CoQ10 sends a chemical messenger to the nucleus to “switch on”certain strategic genes and fortify already degraded cellular systems (e.g. from the aging process).
Weakened cells regain strength helping those with conditions from cancer to chronic fatigue to heart disease.
CoQ10 Makes Muscles Younger – Linnane tested muscle tissue from patients supplementing 300mg daily CoQ10 for 1 month compared to those taking placebo. He found that the CoQ10 group muscle produced a dramatic change toward a more youthful profile. The muscle fiber change meant that CoQ10 had modulated hundreds of genes relevant to muscle biochemistry.
–Ubiquinone and Ubiquinol
Ubiquinone is the OXIDIZED form of CoQ10
Ubiquinone is converted to ubiquinol - Whether produced in the body, obtained from wholesome, unprocessed foods or supplemented, the body must then convert ubiquinone to ubiquinol.
Ubiquinol is the REDUCED/ACTIVE form of CoQ10
In order to have electrons to donate to free radicals, antioxidants must be in their reduced form. Ubiquinol is also present in certain foods.
Under the age of 25, the body is quite capable of converting CoQ10 from the oxidized to its reduced form, but the body's ability to convert oxidized CoQ10 into the necessary active ubiquinol decreases with age and/or with oxidative stress.
They look different too
If you were to break open capsules of the two supplement forms, you would see that - ubiquinone (the oxidized form of CoQ10) is a bright yellow crystallized powder, and that the ubiquinol (active form) is a much paler whitish yellow.
Health problems associated with CoQ10 deficiency
Suppressed CoQ10 levels have been shown in those with cardiovascular, neurological, liver-related disease and type II diabetes - Supported by a large body of data, the following link details where CoQ10 supplementation has been found to be beneficial. E.g. CVD, Neurodegenerative /Neuromuscular diseases, skin health, diabetes, cancer, COPD, asthma, migraine, immune disorders , HIV/AIDS, renal problems, periodontal disease, CFS, and male infertility
Every cell makes CoQ10, so why are many are deficient in it?
It is believed that as many as 75% of men and women over age 50 are deficient in CoQ10
– The body's natural ability to produce CoQ10 decreases by up to 80% with age - starting around 25 years and accelerating after 40;
– As we age the body is less able to convert CoQ10 to its active form (ubiquinol).
The average diet supplies only a small amount of CoQ10
and is also deficient in its cofactor vitamins
Only small amounts of CoQ10 can be extracted from food - The best sources are organ meats (heart, kidney, liver - i.e. tissues with high energy demands); other good sources are meat, fish/shellfish (especially mackerel, salmon, sardines), peanuts, soybean, palm, olive, corn, sunflower and peanut oils, broccoli and spinach. However, a typical diet does not provide enough to maintain optimal CoQ10 levels. E.g. You would have to eat 1# of sardines, 2# of beef, or 2 ½# of peanuts to obtain the equivalent of a 30mg supplement, about enough to maintain health, but nowhere enough for therapeutic benefit against disease. Weber C et al. The coenzyme Q10 content of the average Danish diet. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 1997
It takes certain nutrients to make CoQ10 – the body's synthesis of CoQ10 is a very complex process requiring certain nutrients. A deficiency of one or more of these essential components can adversely affect the production of adequate amounts of CoQ10:
– Amino acid TYROSINE (Non-essential)
✔Tyrosine is found in many high protein food products - such as soy products, chicken, turkey, fish, peanuts, almonds, avocados, bananas, milk, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, lima beans, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds.
✔Tyrosine can also be synthesized in the body from phenylalanine (rich food sources of this essential amino acid are curds, milk, cottage cheese, pulses and legumes, poultry, piyal seeds (Indian), peanuts, pistachios, almonds, leafy vegetables, and whole grains).
– At least seven vitamins
✔ B2, B3, B6, folic acid, B12, C, pantothenic acid and certain trace minerals, such as selenium - in particular, dietary B6 (pyridoxine) is notably low in the elderly and those eating a refined / processed food diet.
Emotional stress depletes body's CoQ10 – emotional stress increasing oxidative stress in the body, which creates oxidants (E.g. free radicals). The body's CoQ10 supply is depleted when used to neutralize these oxidants.
Cholesterol lowering drugs
Cholesterol lowering drugs greatly reduce the body's ability to produce CoQ10 -This is because the metabolic pathway that produces cholesterol also produces CoQ10.
Anyone taking statin drugs should be taking supplementary CoQ10.
Beta-Blockers decrease endogenous serum CoQ10 levels - By inhibiting CoQ10-dependent enzymes
Fuke C et al, Coenzyme Q10: A review of essential functions and clinical trials. US Pharmacist 2000.
Overactive Thyroid depletes CoQ10 - By increasing thyroid hormone, metabolism is accelerated, which depletes the CoQ10 supply. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include anxiety, bulging eyes, irregular/fast heart rhythm, irritability, muscle weakness, and weight loss. The heart is usually the first casualty.
Extreme physical Exertion
Although moderate exercise stimulates the body's production of CoQ10, exhaustive, prolonged exercise depletes CoQ10 by using it up as fuel to support increased activity - Those at risk are weekend warriors and performance athletes.
How is CoQ10 distributed in the tissues?
CoQ10 is present in all tissues in our body
It is associated with lipoproteins
In circulation, 90% of CoQ10 is present in its reduced form (as ubiquinol) - The ratio of oxidized to the reduced form in blood may serve as a measure of in vivo oxidative stress. Yamashita S, Yamamoto Y. Simultaneous detection of ubiquinol and ubiquinone in human plasma as a marker of oxidative stress. Anal Biochem. 1997
Recent studies have shown that the level of circulating Ubiquinol (CoQ10-H2) tends to decline in certain disease conditions - such as diabetes, liver disease, down syndrome, etc. with the result that the ratio of circulating Ubiquinol to total CoQ10 goes down.
LIM S.C., et al. Oxidative burden in prediabetic and diabetic individuals: evidence from plasma coenzyme Q10, Diabetic Medicine 2006;
Hasegawa, et al. Daily profile of plasma % CoQ10 level, a biomarker of oxidative stress, in patients with diabetes manifesting post prandial hyperglycemia, Acta Diabetol, 2005;
Yamamoto Y, et al. Plasma Ubiquinone to Ubiquinol ratio in patients with hepatitis, cirrhosis, and hepatoma, and in patients treated with percutaneous transluminal coronary reperfusion, BioFactors, 1999
Concentrations vary from tissue to tissue, but CoQ10 is more concentrated in areas
with high rates of metabolic activity and high energy demands
The heart has the highest CoQ10 concentration,
followed by the liver, kidneys, spleen and pancreas
The oxidized vs. reduced forms of CoQ10 (i.e. ubiquinone vs. ubiquinol) also varies from tissue to tissue - those with high aerobic activity generally contain higher amounts of ubiquinone (the oxidized form);
Heart muscle is Packed with Mitochondria (~¼the volume of heart cells) - Heart expands/contracts 100,000 times/day requiring lots of energy and therefore needs lots of CoQ10.
There is no RDA or DV for CoQ10
Since it is produced in the body, CoQ10 is not considered essential - but like some other nutrients (e.g. taurine, carnitine and choline), it could be called “conditionally essential”because its endogenous production may not be able to keep up with the body's demand. In such situations supplemental CoQ10 is indicated.
CoQ10 supplementation is beneficial for the over 40's,
and those of any age with depleted CoQ10 levels
Both the production of CoQ10 and its conversion to ubiquinol begin to decline more rapidly around our 40's and 50's;
CoQ10 provides a boost for those of any age with substantially lower CoQ10 levels - due to factors mentioned above in “Every cell makes CoQ10, but many are deficient in it, Why?”.
Ubiquinol is the best form of supplemental CoQ10,
Ubquinol is the already converted, active form of CoQ10- To obtain benefit from CoQ10 for production of cellular energy and reduction of signs of aging, your body must first convert ubiquinone (the educed storage form of CoQ10) to its active form ubiquinol. By the age of 40 the body has become much less efficient at converting ubiquinone to ubiquinol, and so it is better to directly supplement with ubiquinol.
Ubiquinol remains in your blood stream much longer than ubiquinone
Ernster L, Dallner G. Biochemical, physiological and medical aspects of ubiquinone function. Biochem Biophys Acta, 1995.
The bioavailability of ubiquinol has been shown to be higher than that of ubiquinone in both animal and human studies
Miles MV et al, Bioequivalence of coenzyme Q10 from over the counter supplements. Nutr Res 2002; Zaghloul A-a et al. Bioavailability assessment of oral coenzyme Q10 formulations in dogs. Drug develop Ind Pharm 2002.
In a recent trial with human subjects, the superior bioavailability profile of ubiquinol was clearly demonstrated
Hosoe K et al, Study on safety and bioavailability of ubiquinol (Kaneka QHâ„¢) after single and 4-week multiple oral administration to healthy volunteers. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2007;47:19-28.
The plasma of a healthy human has more than 90% of CoQ10 as ubiquinol
After a decade of research and development, “Kaneka Nutrients”recently created the first stabilized, bio-identical supplemental form of Ubiquinol (called Kaneka QHâ„¢) - through a biological process that ferments natural CoQ10. Ubiquinol achieves higher elevations of circulating CoQ10 in the bloodstream with a much smaller dose than when using a ubiquinone CoQ10 supplement.
Daily Dose of Ubiquinol
More serious health conditions require greater CoQ10 doses. Accumulating research indicates that the higher the dosage the greater the benefit and that the only limiting factor on the CoQ10 dosage is the cost, which is not cheap.
✔Healthy person under 25 – shouldn't need to supplement CoQ10 at all, unless they are particularly active or have a condition causing lowered CoQ10 levels. If supplementing CoQ10, they should use the ubiquinone form, since research studies show that younger people don't absorb ubiquinol as well as older people???.
✔Healthy person 25-40 - 50mg
✔Healthy person in 40's – 100mg
✔50's and older / Tired / To prevent heart attack – 150-200mg
✔Very sick – typically 400mg split into 2 or 3 doses;Some examples of amounts used in studies: 390 mg dose used in breast cancer study,1200 mg dose in Parkinsons disease;
The Kaneka Dosing Study of Kaneka QH â„¢
The study measured total CoQ10 concentration in human plasma for various dosage levels:Total plasma COQ10 concentration results were as follows:
Placebo (n=19), 90mg/day (n=20), 150mg/day (n=20), 300mg/day (n=19)
Began around 0.5 Î¼g/ml for all participants and increased in a dose dependent manner;
Reached over 7 Î¼g/ml at a dose of 300mg/day (~2.5 Î¼g/ml at 90mg dose and ~3.5 Î¼g/ml at 150 mg dose)
Reached a plateau after about 2 weeks intake for all doses
Returned to base levels ~12 days after supplementation was stopped
Best taken with a meal containing fat
Works better when taken with a meal - and even better if the meal contains fat in which to dissolve the CoQ10, and so provide better absorption.
No adverse effects in studies - KanekaQ10 has been tested in dozens of safety studies up to clinical doses of 3,000 mgs per day, showing no adverse effects.
Boost your body's own CoQ10 production by supplementing with B6
100mg Vitamin B6 / day
How is the status of CoQ10 assessed?
In humans, plasma or serum CoQ10 concentrations will serve as a good indicator of status - The best way to assay CoQ10 is by HPLC (high pressure liquid chromatography) by UV or electrochemical detection.
– Plasma CoQ10 may not always reflect tissue status - localized deficiencies of CoQ10 may exist such as in the skeletal muscle or myocardial tissue whilst plasma concentrations may show “normal”values. If biopsy material is available, tissue CoQ10 analysis can yield more useful information
Steele PE et al, Clinical laboratory monitoring of coenzyme Q10 use in neurologic and muscular diseases. Am J Clin Pathol. 2004;121 Suppl:S113-20.
How are the Body's CoQ10 Levels affected by CoQ10 supplementation?
Normal serum/plasma CoQ10 concentrations - in healthy people, usually range from 0.5 - 1.0 Âµg per mL. Total body CoQ10 is estimated at 1.5-2g.
After oral CoQ10 supplementation - plasma/serum concentrations reach a maximum after ~6 hours. The time to deplete to half-maximum concentration is ~34 hours. With the ingestion of high doses of CoQ10, plasma CoQ10 levels have been found to plateau after a dose of 2400 mg a day.
Shults CW et al, Pilot trial of high dosages of coenzyme Q10 in patients with Parkinson's disease. Exp Neurol. 2004;
Mix ubiquinol into cream/lotion at 0.5% concentration - after first dissolving it in a small amount of oil for a smooth texture to your finished product.