Coenzyme Q10 is an oil soluble substance naturally found in the cells of our body especially in cell mitochondria. It works as an antioxidant and helps the cell to produce energy. Its deficiency in the human body is indeed rare but could produce symptoms of weakness, fatigue and sometimes seizures.
Coenzyme Q10 is also known by the following names:
• Vitamin Q10
Without Coenzyme Q10 our body cells cannot produce energy. In the human body coenzyme Q10 exists in three metabolically active forms namely:
• CoQ ubiquinone
• CoQH ubisemiquinone
• COQH2 ubiquinol
In the human body the coenzyme Q10 gets reduced to Ubiquinol and it is this
Ubiquinol (stong lipid soluble antioxidant) which helps the body make ATP which is responsible for cellular energy generation. The antioxidant activity works by providing a defensive shield against oxidative stress.
The food we consume has naturally occurring CoQ10 in small quantities especially in beef, sardines and meat (meat of liver and kidneys).
Coenzyme Q10 dosage forms for medical use
Usually Coenzyme Q10 comes in pill form. Coenzyme Q10 is used as a dietary supplement in the US. In Japan it is used to treat heart failure. Twin lab Mega CoQ10 is a popular brand of Coenzyme Q10. The manufacture of Coenzyme Q10 is essentially a biotech process entailing the fermentation of beets and sugarcane with yeast.
It is now almost 53 years since Coenzyme Q10 has been used in medicine. However it has been mostly used as an enabler of cellular energy metabolism. As a cellular protectant CoQ10 is important and is also important for the health of the heart and the brain. Newer uses of Coenzyme Q10 have only emerged in recent times. Here are some of the established uses of Coenzyme Q10
• Finds use as an antioxidant in disease conditions: As we go old our body produces less of coenzyme Q10 and so we are susceptible to free radical caused damage which is one of the reasons why our body ages. So as we age antioxidant supplementation preferably with coenzyme Q10 could help
• Could be used to treat migraine and BP increase: Although intake of CoQ10 tends to reduce systolic blood pressure, the mechanism of action is unclear. Reduction in mitochondrial energy is a contributory factor to the incidence of migraines. As CoQ10 helps increase the production of mitochondrial energy it is found helpful in preventing migraines.
• Finds use in neurological conditions: Patient's with neurodegenerative diseases have low plasma Ubiquinol ratio. It is believed that Coenzyme Q-10 in very high doses may be beneficial in treating the rare neurological condition known as Huntington's disease.
• In muscular dystrophy: The body of a person with muscular dystrophy makes less of CoQ10 and also the disease condition requires more of CoQ10. Therefore oral supplementation of Coenzyme Q-10 is deemed beneficial.
• In treating periodontal disease: Patients with gum disease have reduced CoQ10 level and so taking CoQ10 supplements can help in faster healing of the gums.
• Coenzyme Q10 protects the heart when anti tumor drugs are administered: Doxorubicin is the generic name for adriamycin which is used in treating Hodgkin and Non-Hodgkin lymphomas. This has a tendency to cause heart damage in cancer patients using the drug. Coenzyme Q10 is useful in protecting a patient's heart from the ill effects of Doxorubicin
Use in cancer therapy
Cancer is the cause of free radical damage but more importantly it is also the consequence of free radical damage. To a certain extent Co Q10 can prevent free radical damage.
Why does cancer occur?
One of the reasons is that when the cellular DNA gets damaged the cell loses its ability to control its growth mechanism. When the immune cells tries to tackle the cancer cells the former gets overwhelmed by the inflammation---leading to disruption of cellular communication and consequently cancer cells tends to increase in numbers.
Increases cellular energy
In a person with cancer, the production of adenosine triphosphate (which provides cellular energy) is diminished. So cancer patients are prone to what is known as cachexia which is a sort of wasting and they have reduced levels o CoQ10, something which has been known since 1961. By administering CoQ10 to cancer patients the cells can produce more energy by providing a protective cover to the cell mitochondrial ATP production process.
Augments immune function
Beyond a certain dosage, cancer medicines cannot be administered due to fear of toxic effects. This is also the reason that despite chemotherapy the cancer remains uncured. Apart from the fact that that cancer drugs affect healthy cells one of the other problems is that it induces immune suppression. As a result a patient could easily get infections. Coenzyme Q can lessen the impact of chemotherapy by augmenting immune function.
In treating breast cancer the drug Tamoxifen has been found useful. But it causes other problems as well such as:
• Elevates LDL and total cholesterol and reduces the beneficial HDL levels
• It causes oxidative stress and causes inflammation (causes inflammation of even the normal cell tissue due to which the cancer patient has increased cytokine levels)
However by using CoQ10, to some extent some of these problems can be smoothened out including the inflammatory damage that is caused to the body by cancer cells.
Aging process and related free radical damage
In normal life-span, certain amount of free radicals accumulates in the cells of our body partly due to wear and tear, disease and injury. These free radicals could potentially damage our body tissues. When this happens, cytokines and chemokines are released which is the human body's way of providing a counter-protective inflammatory response. However, cytokines and chemokines by themselves can prevent tissue damage only upto a point. When excessive amounts of cytokines and chemokines get released it contributes to more tissue damage---and this could eventually leads to damage to the DNA. CoQ10 supplements could lessen the impact of this process.
Side effects and caution in using CoQ10
For adults the recommended daily dose of CoQ10 is between 30-200 mgs. Serious side effects associated with CoQ10 intake are rare.
Moderate side effects include:
• Loss of appetite
Patients with low BP and low blood sugar levels must exercise caution in taking CoQ10 as it could reduce those levels further. Similarly patients on statins (cholesterol reducing drugs) and blood thinners should exercise caution as well----as in that case the synthesis of CoQ10 could be inhibited. Children under the age of 18 years should take CoQ10 only under medical supervision.
Although it is a coenzyme, Coenzyme Q10 is being increasingly reckoned as a Vitamin.
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