Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) or ubiquinone, is an antioxidant that is necessary for cells to function properly. It is synthesized by the body because it is also essential for the production of energy that cells use. CoQ10 can be found in highest amounts in the heart, liver, kidneys, and pancreas. CoQ10 levels decrease as you age. Fish, meats, and whole grains all have small amounts of CoQ10, but not enough to significantly boost the levels in your body.
The primary role of CoQ10 is to work as a co-factor in the energy metabolism. Every cell has a small compartment that is known as the mitochondrion. It can be seen as a small energy producing factory that provides the energy to properly function and live. In one of the energy producing steps, CoQ10 plays an essential role. Therefore, high levels of CoQ10 are important for health and sufficient energy levels in tissues, organs and whole body. Some diseases cause CoQ10 deficiencies because they negatively impact some levels of the energy production machinery.
CoQ10 deficiencies are frequently observed in patients who take statins to lower cholesterol levels. Statins inhibit the cholesterol production pathway, which is also the pathway for the synthesis of CoQ10. This leads to insufficient CoQ10 levels leading to a reduced energy production and consequently to muscle weakness. Therefore, additional supplementation with CoQ10 could help to maintain energy levels in patients on statins.
CoQ10 also works as an important antioxidant and is capable of removing free radicals that are continuously produced. Free radicals are damaging by-products that, when present in large amounts, can attack cells. Not only will cells be destroyed, free radicals can also damage DNA leading to mutations and eventually cancer. CoQ10 protects the human body from mutations and cell damage by neutralizing and scavenging free radicals. Many diseases are accompanied with the production of large amounts of free radicals. CoQ10 plays a significant role in boosting the immune system and physical performance, as tissues and cells involved with immune function are highly energy-dependent and therefore require an adequate supply of CoQ10 for optimal function.
There is evidence that supplementation with CoQ10 improves heart function, semen quality and sperm count in infertile men, and age-related changes in cells and genes. The potential use of CoQ10 supplements alone or in combination with other drug therapies and nutritional supplements may help prevent cardiovascular disorders, high blood pressure, cancer, mitochondrial diseases and muscular dystrophy.