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“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”

Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10, a natural substance produced by the body, belongs to a family of compounds called quinones. When it was first isolated in 1957, scientists called it ubiquinone, because it is ubiquitous in nature. In fact, coenzyme Q10 is found in all living creatures and is also concentrated in many foods, including nuts and oils. In the past decade, coenzyme Q10 has become one of the most popular dietary supplements around the world. Proponents of the nutrient use it to maintain general good health, as well as to treat heart disease and a number of other serious conditions. Some clinicians believe it is so important for normal body functioning that it should be dubbed "vitamin Q."

The primary function of coenzyme Q10 is as a catalyst for metabolism - the complex chain of chemical reactions during which food is broken down into packets of energy that the body can use. Acting in conjunction with enzymes (hence the name "coenzyme"), the compound speeds up the vital metabolic process, providing the energy that the cells need to digest food, heal wounds, maintain healthy muscles, and perform countless other bodily functions. Because of the nutrient's essential role in energy production, it's not surprising that it is found in every cell in the body. It is especially abundant in the energy-intensive cells of the heart, helping this organ beat more than 100,000 times each day. In addition, coenzyme Q10 acts as an antioxidant, much like vitamins C and E, helping to neutralize the cell-damaging molecules known as free radicals.

Coenzyme Q10 may play a role in preventing cancer, heart attacks, and other diseases linked to free-radical damage. It's also used as a general energy enhancer and anti- aging supplement. Because levels of the compound diminish with age (and with certain diseases), some doctors recommend daily supplementation beginning about age 40.



Coenzyme Q10 has generated much excitement as a possible therapy for heart disease, especially congestive heart failure or a weakened heart. In some studies, patients with a poorly functioning heart have been found to improve greatly after adding the supplement to their conventional drugs and therapies. Other studies have shown that people with cardiovascular disease have low levels of this substance in their heart. Further research suggests that coenzyme Q10 may help protect against blood clots, lower high blood pressure, diminish irregular heartbeats, treat mitral valve prolapse, lessen symptoms of Raynaud's disease (poor circulation in the extremities), and relieve chest pains (angina). If you have heart disease, talk with your doctor about taking this supplement. And remember: Coenzyme Q10 is intended as a complement to - and not as a replacement for - conventional medical treatments. Do not take this nutrient in place of heart drugs or other prescribed medications.

A few small studies suggest that coenzyme Q10 may prolong survival in those with breast or prostate cancer,  though results remain inconclusive. It also appears to aid healing and reduce pain and bleeding in those with gum disease,  and speed recovery following oral surgery. The supplement shows some promise against Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases and fibromyalgia, and it may improve stamina in those with AIDS. Certain practitioners believe the nutrient helps stabilize blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.  There are many other claims made for the supplement: that it slows aging, aids weight loss, enhances athletic performance, combats chronic fatigue syndrome, relieves multiple allergies, and boosts immunity. But more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of coenzyme Q10 for these and other conditions.

How much to take

The general dosage is 50 mg twice a day. Higher dosages of 100 mg twice a day may be useful for heart or circulatory disorders, or for Alzheimer's disease and other specific complaints.

Take a supplement morning and evening, and ideally with food to enhance absorption. Coenzyme Q10 should be continued long term; it may require eight weeks or longer to notice results.


Side effects

Most research suggests that the supplement is harmless, even in large doses. In rare cases, it may cause upset stomach, diarrhea, nausea, or loss of appetite.  But it appears to be very safe overall. Because coenzyme Q10 has not been extensively studied, however, check with your doctor before using it, especially if you are pregnant or nursing.