What is Coenzyme Q10 ?

Coenzymes can be defined as those compounds that are basically non -protein in nature, that are bound to proteins and are necessary for the proper biological function of proteins within our bodies. CoQ10, to be specific is a vitamin like compound that is found within every cell in the human body and is essential (along with other compounds) for the production of energy within all cells.

According to scientists there are few substances that can do as much to improve or sustain our health as much as CoEnzyme Q10. Coenzyme Q10 (known as CoQ10) also called ubiquinone ( which aptly means widespread distribution in the body since virtually every cell in the body contains Coenzyme Q10) , is a substance that is found naturally in the body and helps convert food into energy. CoQ10 is found in almost every cell within our body, and it is a powerful antioxidant.

Antioxidants, as we all know fight damaging particles in the body known as free radicals. Free radicals which are produced when weak bonds of a cell split and they are very unstable and react quickly with other compounds, trying to capture the needed electron to gain stability, they are not selective while doing this. This process tends to damage cell membranes, can tamper with DNA, and even cause cell s to perish . Scientists believe that free radicals contribute to the process of ageing and also can a number of health problems, including heart disease and cancer. CoQ10 can improve energy production in cells and prevents blood clot formation, and acts as an antioxidant. And Antioxidants can neutralize free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause to our system.

CoQ10 levels are highest in the hardest-working tissues of the body, especially the heart. In order for our bodies to produce CoQ10 several different chemical reactions are apparently needed and along with these reactions there needs to be present Vitamins B3, B5, B6, B12, Vitamin C and folate in our system.

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When was it discovered?

Coenzyme Q10 was discovered in 1957 in the USA in beef hearts by Fred Crane and his team of doctors. Its chemical structure was determined a few years later by Karl Folkers, who later won the Priestley medal from the American Chemical Society.. Since then, there were many studies made to explore the effects of CoQ10 in a variety of conditions such as heart disease, gum disease, cancer, Parkinson's disease, migraine headache and as a sports supplement. In 1972 the enzyme became well known when some Italian scientists in their researches noted the significant CoQ10 deficiencies in people who suffered from heart disease. And by the early 1980’s the process of producing large quantities of pure CoQ10 had been perfected and worldwide clinical trials were being conducted in a big way and CoQ10 had arrived !

You’ll find CoQ10 in high concentrations in your heart, brain and all other major organs and it helps generate much needed energy. Nutritionally according to experts, the highest sources of CoQ10 are found in wheat germ, soya products, spinach, broccoli, all meats, fish, vegetable oils, rapeseed oil, and rice bran.

Function 

CoQ10 works in the human body similarly to Vitamin E, in anti ageing process, in that it reduces harmful free-radicals, thus protecting the cells from degrading . And since the highest concentration of CoQ10 is found in the heart, it has become the best possible tool in the prevention of heart disease and congestive heart failure in individuals with a risky heart.

CoQ10  also plays a vital role in other elements of cardiovascular health by lowering blood viscosity, keeping blood pressure at a healthy rate and also inhibiting the formation of blood clots in the arteries.

Tests have shown that it improves immune function in people with HIV or AIDS and is now extensively being used in treating AIDS patients.

It is also known to increase sperm motility thereby improving male fertility and it is now used in severe cases of sexual malfunction in men

The supplement also helps in treatment of Parkinson's disease especially when it is administered in the initial stages itself.

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Uses of CoQ10

Heart Ailments

By now almost all cardiologists are of the opinion that CoQ10 in natural form or taken as supplements is known to benefit the heart. According to one clinical study , people who took a daily dose of CoQ10 supplements within 3 days of a heart attack were far less likely to have subsequent heart attacks and chest pain. It was also proved that they were less likely to die of heart disease than those who did not take the supplements. So , anyone who has had a heart attack should be talking with their doctors to get a clearer picture.

There is also evidence which shows thatCoQ10 may help treat heart failure when combined with conventional medications prescribed by the doctors. For example - People who have congestive heart failure, where the heart is not able to pump blood as well as it should may also have low levels of CoQ10. Heart failure in certain stages can cause blood to pool in parts of the body, such as the lungs and legs. It can also cause other symptoms like shortness of breath.

Studies have shown that putting the patient on CoQ10 supplements help reduce swelling in the legs whi9ch is another common feature among heart patients and also reduce fluid in the lungs, making breathing easier. Once the patients start taking the supplements regularly their energy levels increase and this can be seen in the increased exercise capacity in people with heart problems. However, there is no 100 percent guarantee about the results since not all studies are positive ,so using CoQ10 for heart failure remains controversial and should be undertaken only under the supervision of a cardiologist .

High blood pressure and Cholesterol

Here the results and studies have been much more positive and several clinical studies involving small numbers of people have suggested that CoQ10 does lower blood pressure. It normally takes 4 - 12 weeks depending on the constitution of the person to show any results. Researchers have concluded that CoQ10 has the potential to lower systolic blood pressure by up to 17 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 10 mm Hg, without any significant side effects.

According to studies people with high cholesterol levels tend to have lower levels of CoQ10. So, CoQ10 has been proposed as a treatment for high cholesterol. Since these treatment process is relatively new there' is no evidence whether it works or not. But in some cases it has reduced side effects from conventional treatment with cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins. Statins when taken for a long period of time have the capacity to reduce natural levels of CoQ10 in the body. Taking CoQ10 supplements at this stage can bring levels back to normal, also the added benefit is that CoQ10 may decrease the muscle pain associated with statin treatment

Diabetes

CoQ10 supplements are known to improve and balance blood sugar levels , also help manage high blood pressure in people with diabetes. Two major studies conducted in the USA found that 100 mg of CoQ10 taken twice a day greatly improved A1c levels, which is a measure of long-term blood sugar control. It is a good idea for people with diabetes to take the supplements after consulting their doctor as to what dosage would be the best option for them.

Ageing

Coenzyme Q10 helps to neutralize harmful free radicals which in fact is its major function besides other functions as well. In fact the whole process of ageing is due to free radicals playing havoc by spreading themselves into all cells and dividing them to get protons. Various factors that later lead to aging and stress, can lower the levels of coenzyme Q10 in the body and as a result the ability of cells to withstand stress and regenerate declines. The levels of coenzyme Q10 in the body almost inevitably decline with age and need to be replenished on a regular basis.

Almost all anti ageing creams have CoQ10 as their main ingredient. In some of the studies conducted on animals rodents treated with supplemental coenzyme Q10 , they lived longer than their counterparts that were not given the compound. But as far as the complete picture is concerned the effects of coenzyme Q10 supplements on human longevity remain still unknown to a great extent.

Heart damage caused by chemotherapy  - Many chemotherapy drugs like adriamycin, or other athracycline medications cause some damage to the heart and according to some doctors using CoQ10 supplements can reduce and also repair this damage. More studies are needed, however to confirm this..However, taking the supplements may not cause any further damage and in fact may help with other minor complaints that may be there.

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Precautions to be Taken

1. It is advisable always to consult your physician before using CoQ10 as a nutritional supplement as it is sometimes known to interact adversely with some other medications that you may be taking.

2. Doctors say that people who have low blood pressure should also use caution, as CoQ10 has been known to lower blood pressure and has been advised for those suffering from High blood pressure.

3. There are many spurious medications and brands being made ,so before buying this supplement consult your pharmacist to ensure that the CoQ10 you are taking is of the highest quality from a reputed drug manufacturer.

4. Doctors and scientists say that a child under 18 should not be given CoQ10 supplement except under the supervision of a Doctor for special medical reasons.

5. Researchers feel that antioxidant effect that is there in CoQ10might make some chemotherapy drugs less effective. So they suggest that it is better to consult your oncologist before taking antioxidants or any other supplement along with chemotherapy.

6. Since there have not been enough studies done with regard to the effect of CoQ10 supplements on pregnant and lactating mothers , it is still not known if CoQ10 supplements are safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

7. CoQ10 cannot be used to treat any disease but can only help our system by making it much more i=efficient to combat disaeses and day today wear and tear when it is combined with healthy diet and medication when it is necessary.

Potential of this enzyme

A complete understanding of CoQ10 and its complete benefits are still being tested by scientists . However they are confident of the possibilities of the compound as a potential treatment for cancer and AIDS. Since the 1960s once the studies began to analyse this compound ,researchers have become increasingly aware that people who suffered from various types of cancers had significantly lower than normal levels of CoQ10 in their systems.

Now it has been found that CoQ10 can improve immune system function and animal studies provide increasing support for a beneficial effect of CoQ10 supplements in various diseases, particularly neuro-degenerative diseases and atherosclerosis. These results so far are very encouraging and need further investigation, including clinical studies that directly assess a health benefit of CoQ10 supplements in humans.


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