What is Coenzyme Q10?
CoQ10, also known as ubiquinone, is a fat soluble compound. It is produced naturally in the body, but is also consumed through diet. CoQ10 is necessary for the production of energy and also acts as an antioxidant. It can be found throughout the body, in almost all cell membranes, as well as in lipoproteins (a fat and protein molecule). Although the body can synthesise CoQ10, tissue levels decline with age. Taking an oral CoQ10 supplement increases levels in the plasma, lipoproteins and blood vessels, and supports antioxidant function, energy production and a healthy cardiovascular system.(1)
What are the benefits of Coenzyme Q10?
Many of the therapeutic benefits of CoQ10 are due to its role in the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and its antioxidant effects. The positive effects of CoQ10 on the cardiovascular system in particular are thought to be due to helping reduce oxidative damage and free radicals, increasing ATP production and protecting cell membranes.(2)
Which foods contain Coenzyme Q10?
The richest sources of dietary CoQ10 are meat, fish and poultry. It is also present in relatively high amounts in soybean and canola oils, and nuts. Moderate CoQ10 may be found in fruits, vegetables, eggs and dairy products. Cooking methods may impact on the amount of CoQ10 in foods. For example, between 14 and 32% of CoQ10 may be lost when frying eggs and vegetables, whereas boiling did not alter CoQ10 levels.(1)
Coenzyme Q10 and Cholesterol
Like CoQ10, cholesterol is manufactured naturally by our bodies. Some medications, specifically cholesterol lowering medications, may deplete levels of CoQ10 in the body. This is because the production pathway of CoQ10 within the body is the same pathway as the production of cholesterol which means a medication that reduces cholesterol may also reduce CoQ10. Here’s what happens: a key enzyme called HMG-CoA reductase is involved in the production of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol as well as the production of CoQ10. Cholesterol lowering medications work by blocking this enzyme which helps to reduce cholesterol levels, but may also reduce CoQ10 production by the body at the same time.(3)
What is Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)?
Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is known as the “universal antioxidant” and is naturally found in the body.(4) It occurs in nearly every cell and helps to turn glucose into energy. ALA has been shown to be particularly beneficial for supporting blood sugar levels, and healthy nerve and brain function.
Other antioxidants may be water soluble (such as Vitamin C) or fat soluble (such as Vitamin E). However, ALA is both water and fat soluble, which means it can work throughout the whole body. When an antioxidant scavenges a free radical, it becomes oxidised itself and is not able to scavenge additional free radicals until it has been reduced.(5) ALA is able to reduce oxidised forms of other antioxidants including CoQ10, consequently making them active again. Therefore, when taken in combination, CoQ10 and ALA may work synergistically to maintain important antioxidant defences in the body and support overall physiological health.
Rich dietary sources of ALA include spinach, broccoli and yeast.(4) ALA and CoQ10 may be taken in combination to provide powerful antioxidant effects and cell protection throughout the whole body. CoQ10 and ALA also function in other related biochemical pathways, including the conversion of food into energy.
By Taryn Scott, M.Tech. (Hom)
Sanofi Consumer Healthcare
1. Linus Pauling Institute, Coenzyme Q10, 2012, http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/othernuts/coq10/
2. Natural Standard, Coenzyme Q10, 2013, http://www.naturalstandard.com/databases/herbssupplements/ all/coenzymeq10.asp?#mechanism
3. Sarter, B. (2002). “Co-enzyme Q10 and cardiovascular disease: a review.” J Cardiovasc Nurs 16(4): 9-20.
4. Natural Standard, Alpha-lipoic acid, 2013, http://www.naturalstandard.com/databases/herbssupplements/ all/patient-alphalipoicacid.asp?#evidence
5. Linus Pauling Institute, Lipoic Acid, 2006, http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/othernuts/la/
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