The energizing antioxidant
Graham Butler, BSc, CNPA, RH
Coenzyme Q10 is an important antioxidant. Studied intensively over the last 20 years, its benefits extend from heart health to migraines to Alzheimer's disease.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an energetic little nutrient considered crucial for cellular energy production. Concentrated in microscopic cellular organs called mitochondria, it is one of a select number of nutrients that has been the subject of intense study over the last 20 years.
In healthy individuals, CoQ10 is found in high concentrations in the heart, kidneys, and liver. In addition, CoQ10 is an important antioxidant associated with cholesterol transport that also plays a role in reducing both cellular and cardiovascular oxidative stress.
Getting to the Heart of the Matter
Given the immense energy requirements of the heart muscle, it is no surprise that CoQ10 is concentrated in this tissue and that much of the original research explored cardiovascular benefits. More recently, researchers have refined their approach, examining the beneficial role of CoQ10 in conditions that involve impaired mitochondrial function and increased oxidative stress.
High Blood Pressure
A 12-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted involving 83 participants taking 60 mg of CoQ10 twice daily. At the end of the trial the average decline in systolic blood pressure was 17.8 mm Hg. This was a significant outcome and suggests that CoQ10 may be an effective treatment for mild hypertension.
Researchers from Canada’s National Research Council have shown that CoQ10 protects brain cells from damage resulting from oxidative stress. This finding highlights CoQ10 ’s potential in the treatment of neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.
A placebo-controlled study involving 80 Parkinson’s patients over a period of 16 months realized significant improvements for those using CoQ10 in dosages varying from 300 mg to 1,200 mg per day. Benefits were closely related to CoQ10 intake, with those receiving 1,200 mg daily achieving maximum benefit.
Research results presented at the 2004 American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting demonstrated that CoQ10 supplementation could reduce the occurrence of migraine attacks by as much as 50 percent. The double-blind, placebo-controlled study involved 42 subjects. Approximately 48 percent of the CoQ10 group, who consumed 100 mg of CoQ10 per day, experienced a 50 percent reduction in headache frequency during the three-month study.
Heart Transplant Patients
Some 32 patients with end-stage heart failure, awaiting heart transplants, participated in a three-month study to evaluate the benefits of CoQ10 supplementation. The study demonstrated that a majority of participants showed significant improvement in areas such as quality of life and reduction of fatigue.
Drug-induced CoQ10 Deficiency
Drugs that are used to control elevated cholesterol levels, such as statins, are known to reduce CoQ10 levels in the body. It has been suggested that this drug-induced deficiency is the reason for the common side effect of muscular pain associated with statin use. It is also believed to be the reason why persons with Parkinson’s disease sometimes worsen when using statins.
CoQ10, specifically the more common ubiquonone form, has always had a reputation for poor absorption, particularly when taken as a dry encapsulated powder. This can be improved somewhat by taking a softgel product with an oil base. Micellized ubiquonone (processed to improve the absorption of fat-soluble compounds) is better absorbed, as is ubiquinol, the reduced form of CoQ10.
The studies seem clear–supplementation with this energetic little nutrient could have a far-reaching impact on overall health and well-being.
CoQ10 Shows Potential
An analysis of current research from the Mayo Clinic indicates that CoQ10 shows treatment potential in the following areas: