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Coenzyme Q10

Also indexed as: CoQ10, Ubiquinone

Illustration

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is also called ubiquinone, a name that signifies its ubiquitous (widespread) distribution in the human body. CoQ10 is used by the body to transform food into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy on which the body runs.

Where is it found?

CoQ10 is found primarily in fish and meat, but the amounts in food are far less than what can be obtained from supplements.

Coenzyme Q10 has been used in connection with the following conditions (refer to the individual health concern for complete information):

Science Ratings Health Concerns
3Stars

Angina

Heart attack

High blood pressure

2Stars

Cardiomyopathy

Cerebellar ataxia (familial)

Congestive heart failure

Gingivitis (periodontal disease)

Halitosis (if gum disease)

Macular degeneration (in combination with acetyl-L-carnitine and fish oil)

Migraine headaches

Parkinson’s disease

Renal (kidney) failure

Type 2 diabetes

1Star

Alzheimer’s disease

Athletic performance

Breast cancer

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

HIV support

Infertility (male)

Insulin resistance syndrome (Syndrome X)

Lung cancer

Muscular dystrophy

Prostate cancer

Type 1 diabetes

3Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support and/or minimal health benefit.

Who is likely to be deficient?

Deficiency is poorly understood, but it may be caused by synthesis problems in the body rather than an insufficiency in the diet. Low blood levels have been reported in people with heart failure, cardiomyopathy, gingivitis (inflammation of the gums), morbid obesity, hypertension, muscular dystrophy, diabetes, AIDS, and in some people on kidney dialysis. People with phenylketonuria (PKU) may be deficient in CoQ10 because of dietary restrictions.1 CoQ10 levels are also generally lower in older people. The test used to assess CoQ10 status is not routinely available from medical laboratories.

Which form of coenzyme Q10 is best?

Some,2 but not all,3 research suggests that a fat-soluble form of CoQ10 is absorbed better than CoQ10 in granular (powder) form.4

How much is usually taken?

Adult levels of supplementation are usually 30–90 mg per day, although people with specific health conditions may supplement with higher levels (with the involvement of a physician). Most of the research on heart conditions has used 90–150 mg of CoQ10 per day. People with cancer who consider taking much higher amounts should discuss this issue with a doctor before supplementing. There are several anecdotal reports of large amounts of CoQ10 resulting in improvements in certain types of cancer. However, controlled trials are needed to confirm these preliminary observations. Most doctors recommend that CoQ10 be taken with meals to improve absorption.

Are there any side effects or interactions?

Congestive heart failure patients who are taking CoQ10 should not discontinue taking CoQ10 supplements unless under the supervision of a doctor.

An isolated test tube study reported that the anticancer effect of a certain cholesterol-lowering drug was blocked by addition of CoQ10.5 So far, experts in the field have put little stock in this report because its results have not yet been confirmed in animal, human, or even other test tube studies. The drug used in the test tube is not used to treat cancer, and preliminary information regarding the use of high amounts of CoQ10 in humans suggests the possibility of anticancer activity.6 7 8

Are there any drug interactions?
Certain medicines may interact with coenzyme Q10. Refer to drug interactions for a list of those medicines.

References:

1. Artuch R, Vilaseca MA, Moreno J, et al. Decreased serum ubiquinone-10 concentrations in phenylketonuria. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;70:892–5.

2. Weiss M, Mortensen SA, Rassig MR, et al. Bioavailability of four oral coenzyme Q10 formulations in healthy volunteers. Molec Aspects Med 1994;15:273–80.

3. Kaikkonen J, Nyyssonen K, Porkkala-Sarataho E, et al. Effect of oral coenzyme Q10 on the oxidation resistance of human VLDL + LDL fraction: absorption and antioxidative properties of oil and granule-based preparations. Free Radic Biol Med 1997;22:1195–202.

4. Chopra RK, Goldman R, Sinatra ST, Bhagavan HN. Relative bioavailability of coenzyme Q10 formulations in human subjects. Int J Vitam Nutr Res 1998;68:109–13.

5. Larsson O. Effects of isoprenoids on growth of normal human mammary epithelial cells and breast cancer cells in vitro. Anticancer Res 1994;114:123–8.

6. Lockwood K, Moesgaard S, Folkers K. Partial and complete regression of breast cancer in patients in relation to dosage of coenzyme Q10. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 1994;199:1504–8.

7. Lockwood K, Moesgaard S, Yamamoto T, Folkers K. Progress on therapy of breast cancer with vitamin Q10 and the regression of metastases. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 1995;212:172–7.

8. Judy WV. Nutritional intervention in cancer prevention and treatment. American College for Advancement in Medicine Spring Conference, Ft. Lauderdale, FL. May 3, 1998.

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