Minerals of life – CoenzymeQ10
COENZYMEQ10, otherwise known as CoQ10 or ubiquinone, is a fat-soluble, vitamin-like chemical molecule present in all the cells of the body. The Q in the formula stands for the Quinone chemical group, while10 represents the number of isoprenyl subunits attached to it.
CoQ10 is primarily found in the mitochondria of the cells where it plays a role in the electron transport chain in the aerobic cellular respiration. This is the process of energy (ATP) generation in the mitochondria in the cells. It has the ability to exist in the fully reduced and fully oxidized states and this property of CoQ10 shall be the basis of our discussion as it relates to its functions in the body.
Between the extremes of existence of CoQ10 in the body, the fully reduced and fully oxidized are three states. These states are the fully oxidized (ubiquinone), the intermediate semiubiquinone and the fully reduced states (ubiquinol).
CoQ10 is an electron carrier and this makes it possible for it to function in the aerobic cellular respiration for the production of energy. Being a fat-soluble molecule, it passes easily through the cell membranes as a component of the electron transport chain.
In a fully oxidized form it functions in the production of energy and in a completely reduced form, it functions as an antioxidant by releasing one or two of the electrons it is carrying to free radicals in its vicinity. These two major roles of CoQ10 in the body define its health benefits to mankind.
Health benefits of CoQ10
CoQ10, as I have mentioned, is found in every cell of the body, more so in organs of the body that require more energy for their functions. Organs such as the heart, liver and kidneys. The effect of CoQ10 in diseases has not been conclusively determined. However, there is some evidence that CoQ10 plays certain roles in some diseases that affect man.
Researchers showed in the early 1960s that the blood level of CoQ10 was low in some types of cancers. In this list are diseases such as cancer of the colon, prostate, breast, pancreas, kidney, myeloma, lymphoma etc. Apart from the increased energy production for cell growth and maintenance, CoQ10 may also help to boost the immune system to be able to attack cancer cells.
The role of CoQ10 in treating heart failure has not been established. Supplementation with CoQ10 can however be used along side conventional drug treatment for heart failure. Evidence shows that it might improve the symptoms of heart failure.
Generally speaking, CoQ10 has a positive effect on the cardiovascular health. Because of its high concentration in the heart muscle, it helps the heart muscles to perform optimally, a process that may help to regulate the blood pressure. Not only that, CoQ10 helps to maintain the status of LDL cholesterol at a healthy oxidative state. All of these help to keep the blood vessels at optimal health. The result of this is that conditions such as hypertension, stroke, coronary heart disease etc are prevented.
CoQ10, predominantly found in the mitochondria has been found to reduce the frequency and severity of migraine headache. Migraine headache itself is a condition that has its roots in the mitochondria.
CoQ10 also enhances male fertility by improving the quality and characteristics of sperm cells. The motility of the sperm cells is what is most positively affected in this instance. Other health benefits of CoQ10 are prevention of gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and prevention and treatment of Parkinson’s disease at high doses.
Sources of CoQ10
CoQ10 can be made available to the body from 3 sources. The first is by synthesis in the body. Secondly, it can be gotten from food. Common food sources of CoQ10 are beef and chicken heart, fish such as sardines, tuna, mackerel and salmon. Olive, soybean and sunflower oils contain CoQ10 as well as peanuts, sesame seeds, walnuts, almonds and hazel nuts. Vegetable and fruit sources are parsley, broccoli, spinach, cauliflower and avocado.
Supplements of CoQ10 can be bought from reputable health food shops.
Conditions associated with deficiency of CoQ10
Two conditions that can lead to deficiency of CoQ10 are decreased biosynthesis as in the use of statin drugs that block the synthesis of CoQ10. The second is increased utilization by the body. In diseases such as heart failure, muscular dystrophy and cancer, the use of CoQ10 tends to increase and could lead to a deficiency.
The following diseases could be associated with the deficiency: high blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmias, heart failure, angina pectoris, deranged blood sugar control and diseases of the gastrointestinal tract such as gingivitis and stomach ulcer.
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