Energy Production and why we need CoQ10
CoQ10 functions as a coenzyme in the energy producing mitochondrial pathways. Every cell in the human body must produce its own energy in order to carry out its specific functions. Cells produce most of their energy in the mitochondria by metabolising carbohydrates and fats in a process referred to as ‘aerobic respiration’ and over 90% of the oxygen we breathe in is used for this process. CoQ10 has a specific role in the mitochondria and there is no substitute for CoQ10 in cellular biochemistry. The generation of energy (i.e. ATP molecules) depends on there being optimal levels of CoQ10 in the mitochondrial membrane. CoQ10 has been shown to increase the level of available energy in muscles and is especially important for cardiac function.
Sources of CoQ10
CoQ10 is found in small quantities in foods such as meats, especially offal, and fish; it is also found in most fruit and vegetables, but at even lower levels and the amounts are too small to produce any significant clinical benefit. We therefore rely mainly on synthesis within the body to maintain adequate levels. Our bodies are designed to make all of the CoQ10 that it needs, but may not manage to meet requirements due to lack of substrates or lifestyle factors which increases somebody’s needs.
What can lead to lack of CoQ10?
Reduced production by the body and increased use by the body can lead to deficiency. The body’s manufacture of CoQ10 is very complex and its synthesis requires support from other nutrients such as folate, vitamins C, B5, B6, B12 and selenium. A study of hospitalised patients showed that blood levels of CoQ10 plummeted by around 50 percent when nutritional intake was poor. Therefore, a lack of any of these components for a sustained amount of time will likely impair a cell’s ability to make CoQ10.
Mutations in genes that code for proteins that make CoQ10 can also reduce production. There is ongoing work in this area and several diseases involving fatigue.
A group of cholesterol lowering drugs called statins have also been identified as perhaps playing a role in CoQ10 deficiency. These drugs work by inhibiting the function of the enzyme responsible for the synthesis of cholesterol; HMG-CoA reductase. Unfortunately, this enzyme is also responsible for the body’s production of CoQ10.
Impact of Deficiency
CoQ10 deficiency results in reduced energy production. Fatigue, muscle weakness and many other disease states have also been associated with a need for CoQ10. As we get older we may gradually become more susceptible to low levels of CoQ10. This is simply because our body’s demand for cellular energy remains high however our ability to produce this coenzyme becomes reduced.
Nature’s Sparkplug for Energy Production
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