Coenzyme Q10: A Vital Antioxidant That May Bring Health Benefits
Coenzyme Q10 (abbreviated to CoQ10) is an antioxidant naturally found within the cells of our body. Our cells use it to generate energy and it forms an integral part of the energy production system of each cell. It can be seen as the “spark plug” that fires the energy requirements of each cell. It is present in many foods although some people take it as a supplement. As an antioxidant, it helps the body to fight against free radicals which are damaging particles that can have a negative effect upon our DNA and cell membranes. Some research points to the fact that as we age or suffer from certain medical ailments, our levels of CoQ10 may drop, but this is not certain.
Which foods contain CoQ10?
If you eat foods including oily fish such as mackerel and sardines, peanuts, and organ meats such as heart, kidney and liver, along with whole grain products, then you should get enough CoQ10 naturally through your diet.
How does CoQ10 help our body?
As well as fighting off free radicals, some medical experts believe that CoQ10 helps to reduce blood pressure.
Some parts of the world have also tried using this antioxidant to treat heart conditions such as heart failure but again, the research is not clear and further studies need to be carried out.
The same goes for using CoQ10 as a treatment for neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s; although the indications point to it possibly being helpful, further research is required to confirm this.
Those suffering from cancer, low sperm count, migraine and severe headaches, HIV, muscular dystrophy and even gum disease have tried using CoQ10, as well as taking it in the hope that it will boost energy levels. Whilst many have found it helpful, the evidence does not support these uses at the moment.
Coenzyme Q10 A vital supplement for energy
What about taking supplements?
If we are healthy and have a good diet, there should not really be any need to take supplements. However, many people do, with the recommended dose for adults each day being somewhere between 30 – 200 mg.
People who take statins to control their cholesterol levels find that as well as blocking the production of cholesterol, the statins also block the body’s production of CoQ10. This can lead to muscle pain and weakness. Taking CoQ10 supplements may reduce statin side effects such as muscle pain but once again, the research is conflicting.
Sufferers from ME and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME) have also tried using CoQ10 even though research is not able to substantiate its positive effects upon the illness.
Supplements have to be assessed by the European food regulator EFSA but they have not been able to approve CoQ10 so far and have not substantiated or authorised claims that it can help with:
• Heart health, high cholesterol or high blood pressure
• Transforming food into energy
• Boosting energy levels to help with sport and intellectual activities
If you do wish to take supplements, then they come in the form of tablets, capsules and liquids, often mixed with fat or vitamin E which makes it easier for the body to absorb the essential elements. The supplements can also be known as Q10, vitamin Q10 or ubiquinone. They should not cause any side effects other than a possible upset stomach. However those suffering from diabetes, heart, liver or kidney problems are recommended not to take CoQ10 as it may cause blood pressure and blood sugar levels to drop.
If in doubt, always consult your doctor and do not take supplements if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, purely because of the lack of evidence about the total safety of this antioxidant. Whilst supplementing CoQ10 may bring possible benefits and could be important when it comes to the health of our bodies, many of its positive qualities have still not been researched sufficiently.