Coenzyme Q10 or CoQ10 is an extremely important nutrient that every cell in your body must have in order to produce energy. Although present in food, CoQ10 is not considered a vitamin because the body is able to make it from raw materials contained in food. Nevertheless, the body often cannot make enough for optimal functioning and therefore CoQ10 supplements may be very helpful. Because CoQ10 is involved in basic energy production by every cell in the body, optimal amounts can be beneficial for a wide variety of complaints, symptoms and diseases. To give you a brief idea about what types of complaints or disorders I am referring to, Co Q10 has been used successfully for periodontal disease, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, angina pectoris of the heart, cardiomyopathy of the heart, protection of the heart from the damaging effects of the chemotherapeutic drug Adriamycin, immune disorders such as AIDS and most recently cancer.
How Does Coenzyme Q10 Work?
Biological chemical reactions require helper substances known as enzymes. These enzymes are catalysts or helpers for the biochemical reactions, but are not used up or changed during the chemical reaction. Enzymes are specialized protein molecules, which generally require a mineral, such as magnesium or zinc, and a non-protein organic chemical, called a coenzyme. Examples of coenzymes are vitamin B6, vitamin B12, folic acid, and coenzyme Q10.
As mentioned previously, coenzyme Q10 is specifically utilized in energy production in the cells. There are approximately 100 trillion cells in the human body and each must produce its own energy to carry out its functions. The cells produce energy by burning primarily fats and carbohydrates. This burning or oxidation process occurs as a result of oxygen combining with these foodstuffs to produce carbon dioxide and water. The energy produced by these chemical reactions is converted to chemical energy in the form ATP molecules. These ATP molecules are available to supply energy to the various chemical reactions necessary for life. More than 95 percent of the oxygen we breathe is used solely for the purpose of making energy through this process of burning the organic substances.
Where in the cell does this occur and what is the specific role of coenzyme Q10? Within each cell are small subcellular particles called mitochondria. Here is where the energy production process takes place. The mitochondria contain electron transport chains, which are the fundamental units for energy production in our cells. Through a series of chemical reactions along this electron transport chain, the ATP molecules are produced. Other familiar substances are involved in this electron transport chain. These include vitamin C, riboflavin (or vitamin B2), niacinamide (or vitamin B3), vitamin E and others.
Coenzyme Q10, which is fat-soluble and therefore mobile in cellular membranes, plays a unique role in the electron transport chain. It is a mobile messenger link between the various enzymes of the chain. Each pair of electrons processed by the chain must first interact with CoQ10. If you think of the cell as a little engine, which uses oxygen to burn the organic fuels that come from the organic foodstuffs, you may think of CoQ10 as the part of the engine that provides the spark for this process. No other substance will substitute for CoQ10. Without CoQ10 there is no spark and therefore no production of energy for the cell. And, without energy, there is no life. Optimal electron transport to generate ATP depends upon there being optimal levels of CoQ10 in the mitochondrial membrane.