Power of Coenzyme Q10

by Dr Harold Gunatillake

Many of our readers would not know much about this enzyme (Q10), present in every cell of our body where mitochondria exist, (except red blood cells and eye lens cells -no mitochondria), and is being so beneficial to our well being and day to day existence. All the emphasis and worries are about “too much of cholesterol”, and the damage it does to our body and attempting to bring down the level seems to be the only health problem that matters, for most of us.

Let us now discuss about Coenzyme Q10 and its importance to our wellbeing, and what its deficiency can do.

This chemical also known as ubiquinone , a fat soluble vitamin-like substance, by nature is present in most cells and is responsible for the production of the body's own energy. In every human cell, the required energy is produced from the digestion of the food we eat, which is converted in the mitochondria into energy, with the aid of CoQ10

The organs that need the highest amount of energy, such as the brain, heart, liver, and muscles require the highest concentration of CoQ10. The heart needs the most amount of the enzyme as it is constantly in motion. Dr Stephen Sinatra, a well known cardiologist, has said, “If there is just one thing you do to help maintain your heart's health, make sure you're taking CoQ10 daily.”

This enzyme was first described by Professor Fred L.Crane and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Enzyme Institute in 1957. In 1958, its chemical structure was reported by Prof. Karl Folker and coworkers at Merck.

Coenzyme Q10 is also present in plants and animals. Their role is to facilitate, to act as catalysts, in countless chemical reactions that take place in the body. Various studies have found that as we age our body's supply of CoQ10 slowly diminishes. It is beneficial to provide the body with an adequate supply of this important enzyme.

Recent studies show that it prevents cardiovascular disease. Coenzyme deficiency has been reported in 60%-96% of patients with gingivitis. Deficiency levels have been found in diabetes, muscular dystrophy. No serious bad effects have been found on long term therapy with Coenzyme Q10.

Coenzyme Q10 can be considered as an antioxidant that reduce oxidative damage (your front steel gate rusting with age is caused due to oxidation) to tissues as well as significantly inhibit the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which works more efficiently than Vitamin E (LDL cholesterol is labeled as ‘bad cholesterol', is not true: it becomes bad after oxidative damage by free radicals in the blood. Coenzyme Q10 and vitamin E prevents this oxidative damage). So Coenzyme Q10 is beneficial in slowing down the process of atherosclerosis (hardening of blood vessels), slows aging and age related degenerative diseases such as Parkinson disease. The level of the enzyme gradually declines after the age of twenty.

Until recently, we were aware only that Coenzyme Q10 is required in energy conversion in the mitochondrial compartment of cells, as described earlier. New evidence shows that this enzyme is present in other cell membranes, other than in mitochondria. The enzyme in the cell membrane contributes to the control of cell growth, especially in lymphocytes produced in lymphatic system.

Coenzyme seems to help in heart failure, and it is reasonable to believe that much of medicine should be re-evaluated in light of this growing knowledge.

Other beneficial effects of this enzyme are;

(Information from the U.S. National Cancer Institute)

•  This compound made in the body, is used for cell growth and protect cells from damage that could lead to cancer

•  Animal studies have shown that coenzyme Q10 helps the immune system work better and make the body better able to resist certain infections and types of cancer

•  Clinical trials have shown that coenzyme Q10 helps protect the heart from damaging side effects of doxorubicin a drug used to treat cancer.

•  In 3 small studies of coenzyme Q10 in breast cancer patients, some patients appeared to be helped by the treatment.

•  Coenzyme Q10 may not mix safely with other treatments. It is important that patients tell their health care providers about all therapies they are currently using or thinking of using.

Dr Nancy Scanlan presented this at 1999 AHVMA annual conference. There are many researches done on antioxidants, which show effectiveness in prevention and treatment of cancer.

Antioxidants protect against chemotherapy toxicity and local toxic effects of tumours or surrounding tissues. Free radicals are potentially carcinogenic, and are created by healthy cell metabolism, diseased cells, carcinogens, treatment with chemotherapy, treatment with radiation, cancer itself. Coenzyme Q10 acting as an antioxidant in the body will destroy the free radicals that cause havoc in our body.

Side effect of Statin drugs: Almost every adult person in the U.S. and most affluent countries, take statin drugs to reduce serum cholesterol. All the statins, Lipitor, Mevacor, Pravachol, Lovacol , etc. inhibit CoQ10 production in the liver and thus are a threat to health in general and heart health in particular.

According to Emile G.Bliznkov, MD, AND Co enzyme Q10 Researcher for decades-

“I unearthed an important aspect of this story within two statin patents. Two U.S. patents were granted to Merck Pharmaceutical Company, in 1990 describing a method for counteracting the statin-associated myopathy and potential nerve damage caused by statins. The method described was the addition of CoQ10 to compensate for the reduced production of CoQ10 caused by the statins. Thus the manufacturer itself implicated the serious side effects of statins and the protection role played by CoQ10 in preventing these statin side effects. The manufacturer has not disseminated these data for 12 years, which incriminates them seriously.”

( From Whole Foods Magazine February 2003)

Statins can reduce a serum level of Coenzyme Q10 by up to 30%. Some research suggests the logical option of supplementation with coenzyme Q10 as a routine adjunct to any treatment that may reduce endogenous production of coenzyme Q10.

A deficiency of coenzyme Q10 has been found in aging as mentioned before, in cancer and when statins are taken for a long time to lower the cholesterol level in the blood. (Statins block HMG-CoA reductase an enzyme responsible for the conversion of HMG-CoA to mevalonate, in the process of cholesterol biosynthesis in the liver). It has been observed that the level of CoQ10 enzyme is significantly reduced in breast cancer patients.

The provision of supplementing CoQ10 (390 mg) to breast cancer patients has shown to induce regression in some cases (Biochem Biophys Res Comm 199: 1504-08, 1994; 212: 172-77, 1995)

Protecting the heart

CoenzymeQ10 protects the heart during periods of lack of oxygen (ischaemia), when narrowing or blocking of the coronary arteries occur. The enzyme is helpful in medical procedures like open heart surgery, coronary bypass and angioplasty where ischaemia is prevalent. Angina and heart failure patients would benefit by taking Coenzyme Q10 regularly. Coenzyme Q10 is given to patients prior to undergoing open heart surgery which minimizes the myocardial injury caused by heart bypass surgery and the enzyme seems to improve heart function.

Regular doses seem to reduce the frequency of angina attacks and improve the physical activity in angina patients.

Cardiac arrest

A recent study reveals a survival benefit after cardiac arrest if Coenzyme Q10 is administered in addition to commencing active cooling to 32-34 degrees Celsius.

Parkinson's Disease & Coenzyme Q10

One of the latest studies suggests that functional decline in Parkinson's disease is the result of diminishing Coenzyme Q10. Parkinson's is a progressive neurological disease that results from the loss of brain cells that produce dopamine, a neurotransmitter.

Beal and colleagues tested the bioenergetics effect of oral Coenzyme Q10 supplements in Parkinson's disease patients. They found that Co enzyme Q10 restored the depressed activity of the first complex of the cellular respiratory chain to approximately normal levels, and was most effective at 600mg per day.

Breast Cancer & Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 suppresses the proliferation of cancer cells. Research has shown that this enzyme also boosts the Immune System chemicals that attack cancer cells.

Case studies have shown that treatment with Q10 has resulted in the complete regression of tumours in three breast cancer cases and the disappearance of metastasis in the liver. The minimum daily doses of oral CoQ10 range from 90-390 mg.

Migraine headaches

Supplementation of coenzyme Q10 has been found to have a beneficial effect on the condition of some sufferers of migraine headaches. Dosages given on trials was 150 to 300 mg/day

Blood Pressure & Coenzyme Q10

Research dating to the 1980s suggests coenzyme Q10 may affect blood pressure and reduce the pressure in hypertension. It has been found that deficiency of this enzyme is associated with high blood pressure. Daily intake of Coenzyme Q10 drops the blood pressure noticeably.

A research group led by Professor FL Rosenfeldt (from the Cardiac Surgical Research Unit, Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Australia) reviewed all published trials of Coenzyme Q10 for hypertension and assessed overall efficacy, consistency of therapeutic action, and side effect incidence. The research group concluded on studies made on 362 patients that Coenzyme Q10 has the potential in hypertensive patients to lower systolic blood pressure by up to 17 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by up to 10 mm Hg without significant side effects.

The researchers also measured glucose and insulin levels and saw significant decreases in those, as well. There is increasing evidence that as many as 50% of individuals with hypertension may also be insulin resistant. When insulin is not working effectively, the body produces more, which leads to higher blood pressure. This trial suggests Coenzyme Q10 may improve the way insulin works and, as a beneficial side effect, lower blood pressure.

Diabetes Mellitus sufferers are deficient in Coenzyme Q10 and supplements showed a reduction in the blood sugar levels.

General Health Benefits

The body creates Coenzyme Q10 and gradually tapers off with age. Hence supplementation helps prevent certain heart conditions as mentioned previously. Daily doses with exercising and healthy diet will benefit for one's wellbeing and longevity. This enzyme helps athletes to get more stamina and performance. Obese people are often deficient in Coenzyme Q10 which is commonly used as a dietary supplement.

A study in 1996 looked at untrained middle-aged men and found that they could perform their exercises more vigorously

In 1997, 25 elite cross-country skiers supplemented with CoQ10, were studied in Finland. Significant improvement in physical performance and subjective impressions of the quality of training were noted from Coenzyme Q10.

Occurrence in nature

CoQ10 occurs in mackerel and herring fresh heart tissue in concentrations of 105-148 ug/g. In fresh mackerel CoQ10 concentrations of 67 ug/g have been reported. In fresh herring tissue and amount of 15-24ug/g of coQ10 has been reported.

CoQ10 is found in various other foods, such as Pork heart, Soybean Oil, Canola oil, Peanut Oil, Chicken leg, Beef heart, and Sesame seed Oil.


Coenzyme Q10 is available in capsule form, sold over the counter at the pharmacies, in most countries like the U.S. Australia, U.K and the continent. It is not available in Sri Lanka. Those who are convinced about the good results it produces, after reading this article, may have to get it shipped from abroad. A friend abroad can assist you.

So, if you wish to live longer in good health, in addition to restricted calorie diet, daily exercising, supplement your medication with Coenzyme Q10. Please check with your health provider before you venture. My wife and I are on it, and you should, too.

Ref: Coenzyme Q10 Supplement.com

Some reference to- Wikipedia free encyclopedia– modified on 21 July 2008

Copyright © 2002 ~ 2019 Harold Gunatillake