Coenzyme Q

(Source: SaluGenecists, Inc.)

Discovered in 1957, coenzyme Q is so important to health, especially the health of the heart and blood vessels, that nearly 5,000 research studies have been published on it in less than the 50 years since its discovery. In many living creatures, coenzyme Q is synthesized through the same chemical pathways that make vitamin E, vitamin K and folic acid. Interestingly, the human body can make coenzyme Q, using metabolic pathways called the skikimate and chorismate pathways, but it cannot synthesize those other vitamins. Also known as ubiquinone, coenzyme Q is often called coenzyme Q10, with the 10 referring to a specific part of its chemical structure known as the isoprene tail.


Physiological functions of coenzyme Q

  • Restores the antioxidant potential of vitamin E
  • Prevents cardiovascular disease
  • Stabilizes blood sugar

Physiological events that can signal a need for greater coenzyme Q intake

  • Heart problems like angina, arrhythmia, or hypertension
  • High blood sugar
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Gum problems


Functions of coenzyme Q

Production of cellular energy

Coenzyme Q plays an important role in the energy-producing processes that take place within the cells mitochondria. The metabolic processes that occur here take fat and other substances and convert them into usable energy that powers the bodys physiological activities. Since energy production cannot occur properly without coenzyme Q, this nutrient plays a vital role in sustaining the activity of many cells, including those located in the heart.

Cell protection

Even though the exact mechanism has yet to be understood, the antioxidant activity of coenzyme Q has become well established and recognized. Following coenzyme Q supplementation, up to 95% less damage to cellular membranes has been demonstrated. Owing to its powerful antioxidant activity, many clinicians recommend coenzyme Q in a wide variety of heart-related conditions where the heart muscle needs to be specially protected from oxidative damage. These health conditions include angina, arrhythmia, atherosclerosis, congestive heart failure, heart, attack, hypertension and mitral valve prolapse.

Deficiency Factors

Causes and symptoms of coenzyme Q deficiency

The risk of coenzyme Q deficiency is associated with a wide array of heart-related problems including angina, arrhythmia, atherosclerosis, congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, heart attack, hypertension and mitral valve prolapse. In addition, stomach ulcers, periodontal conditions and blood sugar regulation problems have all been linked to coenzyme Q deficiency.

Toxicity Factors

Causes and symptoms of coenzyme Q toxicity

Toxicity symptoms for coenzyme Q have not been thoroughly studied. In one large scale study where over 5,000 patients were taking 30 milligrams daily, less than one-percent complained of any nausea, diarrhea, stomach discomfort or appetite loss as a result of coenzyme Q supplementation. Certain textbooks report that 800-1,000 milligrams per day is the possible starting point for toxicity, although this has yet to be carefully tested and determined in clinical studies. It would be impossible to obtain these hundred-milligram level doses from food sources alone.

Cooking, Storage and Processing

The effect of cooking, storage and processing on coenzyme Q

Currently, no research is available in the scientific literature regarding how cooking, storage or processing affects coenzyme Q levels in foods.

Drug & Nutrient Interactions

Interactions between medications and coenzyme Q

Medications that lower coenzyme Q levels:

  • cholesterol-lowering statin drugs including lovastatin (MevacorTM), pravastatin and simvastatin

Coenzyme Q can reduce adverse side effects from the following medications:

  • beta blockers, used in the treatment of high blood pressure, which commonly cause side effects

Nutrient Interactions

Interactions that occur between coenzyme Q and other nutrients

Coenzyme Q plays an integral function in maintaining vitamin E supplies by restoring its antioxidant capability after it has participated in reactions in which it protects cells from free radicals and oxidative species.

Health Conditions

Health conditions that require special emphasis on coenzyme Q

Individuals who have the following health conditions should pay special attention to their coenzyme Q10 status:

  • Arrhythmia
  • Angina
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Breast cancer
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Gastric ulcer
  • Heart attack
  • Hypertension
  • Infertility
  • Mitral valve prolapse
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Periodontal diseases

Forms in Dietary Supplements

Forms in which coenzyme Q is found in dietary supplements.

Coenzyme Q is usually found in the same form in all dietary supplements. It is usually described on the label as Coenzyme Q, CoQ, Coenzyme Q10 or CoQ10. Additionally, its chemical name, ubiquinone, may also be listed on the label.

Food Sources

Foods that are concentrated sources of coenzyme Q intake

The concentration of coenzyme Q in food is not well documented. Yet, in general, this nutrient is available in three basic types of foods: fish, organ meats and the germ of whole grains.

Organ meats such as heart or kidney are the most concentrated sources and contain about 2-3 milligrams of coenzyme Q per ounce. While the germ of grains contains less coenzyme Q per ounce than organ meat, it also contains vitamin E (in amounts of 5-10 IU per ounce), which works synergistically with coenzyme Q in the body.