Coenzyme-A, and the Coenzyme Q10 Connection

by Nickolaos D. Skouras, PhD.

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), which is also known as ubiquinone, is one form of a substance known as coenzyme Q, which is found in all plant and animal cells. Coenzyme Q10 is the form used for energy production in humans and it can be made from some of the other forms of coenzyme Q in your diet.

Natural Coenzyme Q10 sources

Coenzyme Q is found in all plant and animal cells. Some coenzyme Q10 is made in the body, particularly in the liver, and some is obtained from food. The production process is a complex one involving around 15 different reactions. It is not clear how much coenzyme Q10 from the diet contributes to body stores, but evidence suggests that dietary coenzyme Q10 is an important source.

The average person may consume around 5 mg of coenzyme Q10 per day. The main sources are meat, fish and vegetable oils. Soybean, sesame and canola oils are high in CoQ10. Wheat germ, rice bran and soybeans contain reasonable amounts of coenzyme Q10, but vegetables contain relatively little; although spinach and broccoli may be quite good sources.

Interactions with other nutrients

Coenzyme Q10 synthesis requires vitamins B6, C, B12, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid. Coenzyme-A is required to initiate the chemical reactions that involve the body's ability to utilize coenzyme Q10. In other words, if Coenzyme-A is not present in sufficient amounts then the human body cannot utilize coenzyme Q10.

Coenzyme Q10 supplements

Coenzyme Q10 is available in tablets and capsules. Oil-based supplements may be the best absorbed form. The amount of coenzyme Q10 available from dietary sources is likely to be insufficient to produce the clinical effects of high dose coenzyme Q10. Coenzyme Q10 may take up to four to eight weeks to build up to peak concentration in the body, and it may take several weeks of daily dosing to see noticeable effects.

Therapeutic uses of Coenzyme Q10 supplements

Increasing scientific evidence suggests that coenzyme Q10 is a safe and effective therapy for a wide range of cardiovascular diseases such as congestive heart failure, cardiomyopathy, high blood pressure, mitral valve prolapse and angina. It has also been used to treat patients undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery. Coenzyme Q10 appears to exert its beneficial effects both by improving energy production and by acting as an antioxidant.

Interactions with drugs

Drugs known as beta blockers, which are used to treat high blood pressure and some other types of cardiovascular disease, have been shown to interfere with the production and function of coenzyme -A, and Co-Q10, and to adversely affect heart function. This may explain why, in some cases, long-term therapy with beta blockers can lead to congestive heart failure. Coenzyme-A, and Coenzyme Q10 therapy in combination with beta blockers may be very beneficial.

In recent years, the drugs lovastatin, pravastatin, and simvastatin have become widely used to treat high blood cholesterol. These medications work by inhibiting an enzyme known as HMG-CoA reductase, and they are very effective in lowering cholesterol levels. However, this enzyme is also responsible for production of both the Coenzyme-A and the Coenzyme Q10. Because of this, the cholesterol-lowering effect of these drugs is accompanied by an equivalent lowering of both Coenzyme-A and Coenzyme Q10 levels. Coenzyme-A and Coenzyme Q10 supplements may help to prevent some of the adverse effects of these widely used drugs.

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