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Coenzyme Q10

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Health claims </P> Coenzyme Q<SUB>10</SUB> (CoQ<SUB>10</SUB>) is a supplement with antioxidant and energy-enhancing properties that make it popular for treating a variety of health pro.

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a supplement with antioxidant and energy-enhancing properties that make it popular for treating a variety of health problems ranging from heart disease and cancer to fertility and skin health.

What Is It?

CoQ10 is a naturally occurring fat-soluble substance found in virtually all the body's cells. The body manufactures CoQ10 from the amino acid tyrosine. Deficiencies in CoQ10 may occur as the result of insufficient dietary intake, depletion by drugs, intense physical activity, disease and aging.

How Does it Work?

Coenzyme Q10 is an integral coenzyme (works with enzymes) in the production of cellular energy. It's also a very potent antioxidant that helps to quench the ill effects of free radicals known to cause heart disease, cancer and other chronic illnesses. Another important function of CoQ10 is that it works to recycle other antioxidants such as vitamin E.

What Evidence Supports its Use?

Angina (pain or squeezing pressure in chest): CoQ10 has been shown in several small studies to help in cases of angina. It's also worth trying for a variety of heart arrhythmias because it helps stabilize the electrical conductivity of the heart.

Atherosclerosis: The oxidation of cholesterol accelerates the buildup of plaque on artery walls. CoQ10 is one of the better antioxidants to prevent this "lipid peroxidation."

Cardiomyopathy (a heart muscle disorder that can lead to heart failure): CoQ10 can be of help in some cases. One study looked at 34 people with severe cardiomyopathy who were given 100 milligrams of CoQ10 daily. Eighty-two per cent showed improvement. Those receiving CoQ10 had a two-year survival rate of 62 per cent, whereas those who received only conventional therapy had a two-year survival rate of only 25 per cent.

Congestive heart failure: Studies have been mixed. However, a recent review in the Journal of Pharmacotherapy stated, "The use of CoQ10 as adjuvant therapy in patients with [congestive] may be supported."

Mitral valve prolapse (where the mitral valve in the heart does not close properly, causing a back-flow of blood): CoQ10 is commonly recommended for this condition. One study found CoQ10 to be effective in children with mitral valve prolapse.

Cancer: Small studies have shown that CoQ10 is beneficial in cases of metastatic breast cancer. The chemotherapeutic drug Adriamyacin has been shown to deplete CoQ10 levels and thus increase susceptibility to heart damage. In one study of children with cancer being treated with Adriamycin, 200 mg of CoQ10 daily had a protective effect.

Fertility: CoQ10 has been shown to improve fertility potential of sperm. This may be because CoQ10 helps produce energy for sperm to swim.

Periodontal disease: Several studies have shown that CoQ10 improves gum health, possibly through improved tissue oxygenation and immune enhancement.

Skin health: CoQ10 is becoming popular in cosmetic creams to prevent the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation and to treat wrinkles. One study did find a reduction in wrinkle depth following CoQ10 application.

How Should I Take It?

Adults should supplement with 25 to 30 mg of oil-based soft-gel CoQ10 daily (equivalent to about 90 to 100 mg of the powdered capsule variety). Those with existing heart disease or other conditions listed above can safely supplement with much higher dosages, such as 90 to 150 mg in oil-based soft-gel capsules, or 300 to 500 mg of the powdered form.

Caveats

For those on blood thinning medications such as Coumadin, use caution when supplementing with more than 30 mg of the oil-based soft-gel form or 90 mg of the powdered form. Inform your doctor that you are using CoQ10.

If you are on cholesterol-lowering "statin" drugs, such as Mevacor, Pravachol and Zocor, which deplete the body of CoQ10, supplement with 30 to 50 mg of the oil-based soft-gel capsules or 100 mg of the powdered form daily.

The Bottom Line

Certainly more studies must be done, but this non-toxic nutrient has shown promising results, especially with regards to enhancing heart health.

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