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Co-Enzyme Q10

Reactions in your body produce chemicals called oxidants that damage cells and shorten life. To protect your cells from oxidant damage, your body produces antioxidants such as superoxide dismutase and coenzyme Q10. Since tissue levels of coenzyme Q10 drop with aging, it is tempting to think that reduced levels of this coenzyme cause aging. However, research shows that lowered levels are the result of aging rather than the cause because coenzyme Q10 is found in the mitochondria, the energy sources of cells. With aging, the number of mitochondria and size of cells become smaller, so everything in the mitochondria is reduced.

Furthermore, coenzyme Q10 has been found to be ineffective in treating diseases affecting the mitochondria (2). Since coenzyme Q10 is a source of energy, doctors thought that coenzyme Q10 supplements would increase endurance, but studies show that it does not (3). Years ago, a researcher at the University of Texas showed that people who have arteriosclerotic heart disease have lower blood levels of coenzyme Q10 than people who have normal hearts. People with damaged hearts have less functioning heart muscle, so they should have lower levels of coenzyme Q10.

For coenzyme Q10 to improve health and energy, it must get into the cells, particularly the mitochondria, where it functions. Studies show that coenzyme Q10 pills get into the bloodstream, but cannot be recovered in the cells (6). Therefore coenzyme Q10 pills cannot get into heart muscle and kidneys (4), so they cannot strengthen a failing heart. More on mitochondria

1) Nutrition News POB 55279 Riverside, Cal 92517. 1987 volume X, number 8.

2) Mathews PM et al. Coenzyme Q10 with multiple vitamins is generally ineffective in treatment of mitochondrial disease. Neurology. 1993(May);43(5):884-890.

3) Porter DA et al. The effect of oral coenzyme Q10 on the exercise tolerance of middle-aged, untrained men. International Journal of Sports Medicine 1995(Oct);16(7):421-427.

4) Zhang Y et al. Uptake of dietary coenzyme Q supplement is limited in rats. J. Nutr. 1995(Mar);125(3):446-453.

5) Y Birnbaum, SL Hale, RA Kloner. The effect of coenzyme Q(10) on infarct size in a rabbit model of ischemia/reperfusion. Cardiovascular Research 32: 5 (NOV 1996):861-868. Conclusions: Coenzyme Q(10), administered acutely either during or 60 min before myocardial ischemia, does not attenuate infarct size in the rabbit.

6) M Svensson, C Malm, M Tonkonogi, B Ekblom, B Sjodin, K Sahlin.Effect of Q10 supplementation on tissue Q10 levels and adenine nucleotide catabolism during high-intensity exercise. International Journal of Sport Nutrition, 1999, Vol 9, Iss 2, pp 166-180. Q10 supplementation increases the concentration of Q10 in plasma but not in skeletal muscle.

Checked 10/2/15

June 2nd, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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