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Coenzyme Q10: The miracle antioxidant

CoQ10, a vitamin-like nutrient, is naturally produced in the body and is a key element in energy production and antioxidant protection. Yet, most people have insufficient amounts of CoQ10.

Low levels of B-vitamins and trace minerals needed for synthesis of CoQ10 are one cause of low levels. Another cause is increased demand for CoQ10 to neutralize environmental toxins and free radicals generated during vigorous physical activity. Using statin drugs to treat high cholesterol further depletes stores of CoQ10. Finally, levels of CoQ10 naturally fall as one ages and this may contribute to several chronic degenerative conditions including heart disease, cancer, immune disorders, periodontal disease, muscular dystrophy, infertility, and neurodegenerative diseases.

Heart Health

According to New York cardiologist Stephen Sinatra, M.D., a failing heart is an "energy-starved heart." Examination of heart muscle samples taken from patients with congestive heart failure revealed extremely low levels of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy-rich currency of cellular metabolism.

Supplementation with CoQ10, a key factor in the production of ATP, in patients with end stage heart failure is vital.

Other maladies of the heart that may benefit from CoQ10 supplementation are angina (heart cramp), arrhythmia (irregular beat), high blood pressure, cardiomyopathy (damaged heart muscle), mitral valve prolapse, preventricular contractions (PVC), and recovery from heart surgery. Doctors who practice complementary medicine often include CoQ10 supplementation to increase energy to the heart, along with standard medical therapy.

Cancer

Doctor Karl Folkers determined the chemical structure of CoQ10 in 1958. He and others found that cancer patients have much lower levels of CoQ10 than normal people. They attributed this to inadequate biosynthesis of CoQ10 and the four bases that make up DNA. This leads to insufficient cellular energy to defend against cancer progression and a lack of ability to repair DNA mutations that lead to cancer.

In addition, Dr. Bruce Ames has shown that deficiencies of folic acid, niacin, vitamins B6, B12, C, E and the minerals iron and zinc, cause DNA damage that may lead to cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. Paradoxically, many of these nutrients are also required for synthesis of CoQ10. Even cancer treatments themselves can severely deplete CoQ10 reserves.

Immune Disorders

CoQ10 supplementation alone or in combination with vitamin B6 has been shown to affect immune cell activity. An improved immune competence is important in the battle against cancer, HIV infection, AIDS-related complex, and Hepatitis B.

Neurodegenerative Disease

CoQ10 may play a role in diseases such as muscular dystrophies, Parkinson's and Huntington's disease and Friedreich's ataxia. These conditions involve either impaired energy production and/or excessive oxidative damage.

Periodontal Disease

Since the mid 1970s, patients with periodontal disease have benefited from CoQ10, applied either directly to gum tissue or taken internally. Gingival tissue cells are particularly sensitive to energy deficits.

Supplementing with CoQ10

Although foods such as broccoli, dark leafy greens, nuts, fish, shellfish, pork, chicken and beef, are good sources of CoQ10, it has been estimated they deliver only about 2 to 5 mg of CoQ10 daily, not enough to sustain adequate blood levels of CoQ10.

Being a large fat-soluble molecule that can be difficult to absorb, the most effective supplement is soft gelatin capsules containing solubilized CoQ10. Dry gelatin capsules containing powdered CoQ10 are less bioavailable because they are not combined with fat like CoQ10 in softgel form. Always consume CoQ with some fat or use the softgel form which has been shown to be more bioavailable and is considered worth the premium price paid for them since the cost per milligram absorbed is actually less.

CoQ10 Typical Daily Dosages

30-100 mg        General Health
90-160 mg        Heavy Exercisers
60-160 mg        Family History - Heart Problems
100-200 mg      Mild Heart Problems.
200-300 mg      If Taking Statin Drugs
300-360 mg      Congestive Heart Problems
1,200 mg         Those With Parkinson's

Dosages of CoQ10 vary according to one's need and family history of disease. Taking CoQ10 will not benefit the heart much if circulating levels of this vitamin-like nutrient are already adequate. However, as one ages, it is less likely the body can maintain adequate CoQ10 levels. CoQ10 is extremely safe, even taken over long periods of time.

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