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Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 is a quinone, which is a substance that helps provide energy to cells in all oxygen-breathing organisms. Researchers first discovered coenzyme Q10 in 1957, and first named it ubiquinone, because it was a quinone that was found in every cell of the body (the prefix ubi means everywhere). Later studies showed that ubiquinone acts as a coenzyme in the body, without which the three enzymes that provide energy to the body cannot function.

Coenzyme Q10 (or CoQ10) helps deliver electrical charges to the mitochondria, or powerhouses, of the cells, so that they can produce energy; i.e., sustain life. The heart contains the largest amount of mitochondria of any muscle in the body, so it is not surprising that CoQ10 has been proven effective for treatment of heart disease. In Japan, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Israel, and Canada, CoQ10 is treated as a prescription drug, and is widely prescribed by physicians to treat congestive heart failure. In the United States, CoQ10 is considered a natural supplement and is available over-the-counter.

CoQ10 helps treat cardiovascular disease by improving circulation throughout the body, and helping mitochondria to manufacture fat and cholesterol more efficiently. It increases the amount of blood and oxygen available to the heart, and prevents cholesterol build-up in the arteries. Studies have shown that CoQ10 also prevents blood vessels from clumping together to form blood clots, and helps lower blood pressure.

CoQ10 is not just good for the heart—it is also a powerful antioxidant, and protects the body from free radical damage. In most people over 30 CoQ10 levels begin to drop after age 30, leaving the body more vulnerable to free radical damage. Studies have shown that CoQ10 supplements may help increase collagen and elastin in the skin, and help repair damaged skin cells. CoQ10 is an ingredient in many skincare creams that claim to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and protect the skin from aging. CoQ10 may be more effective than other topical vitamin treatments because it is a small molecule that can relatively easily penetrate into skin cells.

Research suggests that CoQ10 also improves immunity, lowers blood sugar, and can dramatically slow tumor growth. Because CoQ10 boosts mitochondria function, it is thought to help improve athletic endurance and increase energy levels in the elderly and in those suffering from chronic illness, chronic fatigue, and plain overwork.

Oily fish, such as mackerel and tuna, organ meats, and vegetable oils are good sources of coenzyme Q10, but it’s hard to get medicinal amounts of CoQ10 from dietary sources. CoQ10 supplements are extremely safe, and available in many forms, including capsules, tablets, skin creams, combination products marketed as energy boosters or anti-aging supplements. There have been no toxic side effects reported with use of this medication, although those with serious medical conditions should consult their doctor before supplementing—CoQ10 must be taken in high doses to provide medicinal benefits to those with heart disease, diabetes, etc., and should be taken in conjunction with, not in place of, prescription medications.

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