Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 is an organic chemical compound produced by almost all cells of the body. Its antioxidant properties have caused that many manufacturers of supplements present coenzyme Q10 as an elixir of youth, which inhibits the aging process and prevents the development of civilization diseases. Is this really the case, you will learn from the following article.

1. What is Coenzyme Q10?
2. Coenzyme Q10 – properties
3. Coenzyme Q10 – application
4. Coenzyme Q10 – shortages
5. Coenzyme Q10 – sources
6. Is it worth to supplement Coenzyme Q10?

1. What is Coenzyme Q10?
Coenzyme Q10 (abbreviated CoQ10) is a fat-soluble chemical compound from the quinone group. Vitamin K belongs to the same group of compounds. Other names of coenzyme Q10 are ubiquinone and vitamin Q10. Coenzyme Q10 is synthesized in the body and has mainly functions related to cellular respiration. Its highest concentration occurs in metabolically active organs like the heart, liver, pancreas and kidneys, and the lowest in the lungs.

The name Q10 refers to the chemical group to which it belongs, quinones in English are quinone hence Q. In contrast, 10 means ten isoprene groups under construction of this compound.

2. Coenzyme Q10 – properties
Coenzyme Q10 plays an important role in the process of cellular respiration, which takes place in the energy centers of the cell – mitochondria. Coenzyme Q10 is a cofactor in the electron transport process in mitochondrial membranes, which makes it possible to convert carbohydrates and fatty acids into adenosine 5-triphosphate (ATP). ATP is a type of cellular battery that is constantly charged during cellular respiration. The energy stored in ATP is indispensable in virtually any process taking place in the cells.

Coenzyme Q10 is also a very efficient cellular antioxidant.

The functions of Coenzyme Q10 as an antioxidant are based on

– preventing the oxidation of lipids and proteins in the cell, including so-called bad LDL cholesterol;

– preventing the introduction of mutations into DNA and the formation of tumors;

– regeneration of other cellular antioxidants, which additionally strengthens the antioxidant systems.

Due to this coenzyme Q10 is so important in the protection of cells against aging and development of civilization diseases. Coenzyme Q10 is present in the cell in two forms – oxidized (ubiquinone) and reduced (ubiquinol and hydroquinone). It is in the reduced form of coenzyme Q10 that it works more effectively, which is why it most commonly occurs in the body in this form.

The key to understanding the antioxidant properties of Q10 coenzyme, but also other antioxidants, is to explain what oxidative stress is and why it is harmful to the body.

Oxidative stress is an imbalance between the amount of free radicals produced in the cell and the availability of antioxidants. Free radicals are very chemically reactive molecules that can damage cellular structures by oxidation. Reactivity of free radicals results from the lack of electron on the last molecular orbital. As a result, free radicals try to make up for it, take it away from other molecules, eg proteins or fats in the cell. The result is their oxidation. The formation of one free radical leads to subsequent formation, which initiates a harmful chain reaction. Free radicals may arise as a result of cell metabolism, but their production intensifies with age and by a number of factors such as abnormal lifestyle or chronic diseases.

Toxicity of free radicals is neutralized by antioxidant compounds like coenzyme Q10, but also vitamins C and E. When antioxidants give up the electron to the free radical, they do not become free radicals themselves, therefore they interrupt the harmful chain reaction caused by free radicals. A deficiency of these substances in the body intensifies oxidative stress. Therefore, coenzyme Q10 is so important in protecting cells against accelerated aging and the development of lifestyle diseases.

Another important function of coenzyme Q10 is its ability to regenerate other antioxidants, such as vitamin E. When antioxidants give up the electron to a free radical, they need to be regenerated because they can not continue to perform their functions. In this case, coenzyme Q10 acts as a regenerating compound. The amount of coenzyme Q10 in cell membranes is 3 to 30 times greater than in vitamin E, which further underlines its role in the cell.

The antioxidant effect can also protect against cardiovascular diseases. Coenzyme Q10 prevents the oxidation of harmful LDL cholesterol molecules, which in oxidized form (oxLDL) has radiosensitive properties.

3. Coenzyme Q10 – application
Coenzyme Q10 was first isolated in 1957 by Crane from cow’s heart mitochondria. A few years later, coenzyme Q10 aroused interest in the scientific world, because it was observed that patients with tumors have decreased blood levels. It was found that coenzyme Q10 may have an indirect influence on the development of cancer cells, which is one of the protective elements of the immune system. Substances analogous to coenzyme Q10 inhibit the growth of tumor cells in cell lines and in laboratory animals. Concentration of coenzyme Q10 in the blood may also be related to the prognosis of some cancers.

Research results are promising, where it has been proven that coenzyme Q10 shows protective properties in patients with tumors treated with cytostatic drug doxorubicin. The drug is characterized by high cardiotoxicity, and studies have shown that supplementation with coenzyme Q10 may reduce it.

Other areas that hope for coenzyme Q10 are dermatology and cosmetology. The use of coenzyme Q10 in cosmetics results from its beneficial effects on the skin. Oxidative stress, which can be exacerbated in keratinocytes, eg in a relationship with inappropriate lifestyle and exposure to UV radiation, can be compensated by supplementation with coenzyme Q10 or the use of cosmetics with its content.

4. Coenzyme Q10 – shortages
Factors that reduce the amount of coenzyme Q10 in the body are:
– genetic mutations;
– age;
– diseases, e.g. cancers;
– some medicines, eg statins, blood glucose lowering drugs (glibenclamide, tolazamide);
– chronic psychological stress;
– drugs;
– incorrect diet.

The level of coenzyme Q10 in tissues decreases with age, because its internal production is less efficient and at the same time its consumption increases. This is due to the fact that with increasing age, the level of oxidative stress increases. In addition, factors such as incorrect diet and smoking may reduce its availability.

Synthesis of coenzyme Q10 in the cell is a complicated process that requires the participation of various vitamins – C, B2, B5, B6, B9, B12, therefore vitamin deficiencies may also reduce the concentration of coenzyme Q10.

Mewalonian is one of the most important precursors for the synthesis of coenzyme Q10. Mevalonate is also a precursor to cholesterol synthesis, so drugs such as statins reduce its availability in the body. Due to this, statin supplementation may be considered in people using statins.

Congenital deficiency of coenzyme Q10 is a genetic disease. The cause of the disease are mutations of genes coding for coenzyme Q10 – genes from the COQ group. Most often, mutations appear in the genes COQ2, COQ4, COQ6, COQ8A and COQ8B. It is an extremely rare disease and occurs in less than 1 person in 100,000. The first symptoms of the disease appear during infancy and include serious dysfunctions of many organs.

5. Coenzyme Q10 – sources
The content of coenzyme Q10 in the body is estimated at about 2 grams, of which 0.5 grams must be exchanged daily either by internal synthesis or delivered with food.

The richest in coenzyme Q10 are meat and fish, because these products contain cells with a large amount of mitochondria, as well as fat. Coenzyme Q10 is well soluble in fats. In products of plant origin, coenzyme Q10 is found in significant quantities in oils from the legume and brassicaceae family. Nuts also have a moderate amount of coenzyme Q10. The content of coenzyme Q10 in food products may vary depending on cultivation methods and latitude, especially in plant products.

The content of coenzyme Q10 in the diet of people living in developed countries is from 3 to 6 mg a day and comes mainly from meat products. Such supply is not enough to compensate for the decreasing Q10 coenzyme synthesis with age. In addition, products rich in coenzyme Q10 like meat and offal should not be consumed in large quantities.

Table 1. Coenzyme Q10 content in selected food products

Source Pravst I. et al., Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 2010.

With the emergence of the idea of ​​functional food, the implementation of methods leading to the enrichment of various products in coenzyme Q10 has begun. However, due to the chemical properties of the coenzyme Q10, this is not easy.

Such strategies include
– adding coenzyme Q10 to food during its production
– enrichment of animal feed with coenzyme Q10
– the use of genetically modified plants that would contain large amounts of coenzyme Q10.

6. Is it worth to supplement Coenzyme Q10?
As long as the synthesis of coenzyme Q10 is normal in the body, food sources are not important. However, when the body ages or the factors that reduce its synthesis, the supply of coenzyme Q10 from external sources becomes important.

The amount of coenzyme Q10 delivered with food is not enough to raise its level in the blood, therefore, for this purpose, supplementation is recommended at a dose of 100 mg / day. Studies show that this supplementation can raise the level of coenzyme Q10 in the blood by about 2 g / mL or more.
Coenzyme Q10 is a widely used in the world dietary supplement and at the same time very safe. This has been confirmed in many controlled clinical trials.

It has been observed that a dose of 100 mg / day or more may cause insomnia, and a dose of 300 mg / day taken over a long period of time may increase liver enzymes, but without signs of damage.

Beneficial effects of coenzyme Q10 supplementation have been observed in some diseases such as cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes or metabolic syndrome.

It should be borne in mind that supplementation with coenzyme Q10 may reduce the response to anticoagulants, eg warfarin, and reduce the need for insulin in diabetics.

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