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Coenzyme Q10: The Anti-Oxidant In Every Cell

Feb 3, 2008
In human beings, coenzyme Q10 is the most common occurring form of coenzyme Q, needed by and found in every cell in the body. Perhaps its primary function is to ensure the production of adequate energy within the cell mitochondria, but coenzyme Q10 is also a powerful anti-oxidant, and is particularly important because it is the only fat-soluble anti-oxidant which can be manufactured within the body. Like other fat-soluble anti-oxidants, such as vitamin E, coenxyme Q10 is vital for the protection of fatty structures within cells from the damage and degeneration which may be caused by oxidative reactions and free radical activity.

But the anti-oxidant role of coenzyme Q10 doesn't end there. It's also important in stimulating the anti-oxidant activity of vitamin E, and the two nutrients are together vital for preventing the oxidation of Low Density Lipids (LDLs), the blood fats better known as "bad cholesterol", widely recognised as one of the key risk factors for heart disease, still the major cause of premature death in the Western world.

Blood levels of coenzyme Q10 are lower than those of the other vital anti-oxidants, vitamins C and E, but the nutrient is found in greater concentrations both in muscles and the major organs of the body; the liver, kidneys, brain and especially the heart. But the extent to which levels of coenzyme Q10 within this organ are correlated with disease remains a matter of dispute. Orthodox medicine is predictably cautious and maintains that more research is required before any definitive statement of coenzyme Q10's benefits can be made.

Nutritional therapists, however, argue that patients with heart disease have consistently been shown to have substantially lower levels of coenzyme Q10 in their hearts than their healthy counterparts. It is also clear that supplementation with coenzyme Q10 has been effective in increasing tissue concentrations of the nutrients in such patients. Logically enough, conclude the nutritional practitioners, it follows that supplementation should improve outcomes for heart patients, and some reported research with daily doses of 100mg does indeed suggest significant benefits, particularly where problems seem to lie in the heart muscle itself.

It is particularly important to note that levels of coenzyme Q10 in the hearts of older individual are significantly lower than those of younger people, as the body's production of the nutrient declines markedly from around the age of forty. Experiments on older rats have shown that supplementation with coenzyme Q10 can significantly increase concentrations, with improved heart protection in consequence, but conventional medicine still declines to accept the obvious analogy with regard to human health.

Likewise, there is controversy surrounding the potential benefits of the anti-oxidant activity of coenzyme Q10 in preventing atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, a major precursor of deadly heart disease. What is clear, however, is that coenzyme Q10 is effective in reducing the oxidation of dangerous LDL cholesterol, which is a known risk factor for the development of atherosclerosis. It should perhaps be no surprise, therefore, that coenzyme Q10 supplements have been shown to retard the development of this condition in small animal experiments. But whilst admitting that these results are encouraging and exciting, orthodox medical opinion continues to insist that more research is necessary before a definitive statement of the benefits of coenzyme Q10 for human health can be made. To the interested layman, however, there seems little reason to suppose that the results of the animal experiments would not also be reflected in humans. And certainly this is the conclusion which many nutritional practitioners have reached; regularly recommending doses of anything up to 400 mg of coenzyme Q10 a day.

The case for supplementation with coenzyme Q10 for sufferers from atherosclerosis and other heart conditions has been strengthened by recent research showing that one of the side effects of the popular statin drugs commonly prescribed in these circumstances is to reduce blood levels of coenzyme Q10. Conventional medicine does not accept that this reduction will necessarily have adverse consequences, but if it is accepted that coenzyme Q10 has the benefits detailed above, the conclusion seems clear enough. This is not of course to suggest that statin drugs should not be taken, but that it may well be wise to supplement with coenzyme Q10 at the same time.

As noted above, the other major factor reducing concentrations of coenzyme Q10 in blood and tissue is simply the ageing of the organism itself, as the body's ability to synthesize coenzyme Q10 declines dramatically in the later years of life. Given the importance of the nutrient as an anti-oxidant, this is of particular concern in the context of the onset of degenerative diseases. It seems that coenzyme Q10's fundamental role in the production of energy may make it important as a fat burner, thereby helping in the battle against obesity and related conditions such as diabetes.

Nutritional practitioners even claim that the anti-oxidant and energy producing qualities of coenzyme Q10 make supplementation with the nutrient an important weapon in the fight against cancer, perhaps the ultimate degenerative disease.

But like all the body's nutrients, coenzyme Q10 functions best in the presence of adequate amounts of all the others; and it is particularly important to ensure, through supplementation if necessary an abundant supply of the other vital anti-oxidants, vitamins C and E.
About the Author
Steve Smith is a freelance copywriter specializing in direct marketing and with a particular interest in health products. Find out more at http://www.sisyphuspublicationsonline.com/LiquidNutrition/BenefitsOfCoenzymeQ10.htm
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