Co-Q-10 (Coenzyme-Q10) is a vitamin-like compound present in all cells. It occurs naturally in the body and it is found in highest amounts in the mitochondria, the part of the cell where energy is created.
Co-Q-10 levels are highest in the hardest-working tissues of the body, especially in the heart. Co-Q-10 is an antioxidant, and as such it protects the cells from the damage caused by free radicals in the body.
Free radicals are formed during the normal process of generating energy, but as we get older, the body starts producing too many of them. This can be damaging if our bodies are not producing enough Co-Q-10 and other antioxidants to control them.
As we get older, the amount of Co-Q-10 that the body produces decreases. Levels of Co-Q-10 are especially low in people who suffer from heart disease, and low levels of this compound means that the heart does not have the energy that it needs to keep it running normally.
Co-Q-10 is found in beef, chicken, pork, fish and eggs, and in smaller amounts in spinach, broccoli, grains, beans, nuts and corn, and sesame and soybean oils. Wheat germ and rice bran are also sources. It is available as a supplement.
Co-Q-10 has very low toxicity levels and no serious side-effects have been reported in patients taking it. If you are on Co-Q-10 for congestive heart failure you should not stop taking it suddenly. Certain drugs, such as those used to lower cholesterol or blood sugar levels, can also reduce the effects of Co-Q-10. It can change the way that the body responds to warfarin (a blood-thinning medication) and insulin, so it’s a good idea to get advice from your doctor before you begin taking it.
If you’ve ever taken Co-Q-10 as a supplement, you may have noticed that different names are used: some labels have ubiquinone, others ubiquinol. Many simply say coenzyme-Q-10, which can make things even more confusing. Coenzyme-Q10 is a general term that encompasses both ubiquinone and ubiquinol. Ubiquinone is the oxidised form of Co-Q-10 and the more common form in which the compound is commercially available. Ubiquinol, the reduced form of Co-Q-10, is expensive to produce. This form of Co-Q-10 is the antioxidant form which neutralises free radicals and decreases cellular damage. Ubiquinone does not have this antioxidant effect. Ubiquinol is more effective than ubiquinone in increasing blood levels of Co-Q-10 ubiquinol, but less stable. Compare the prices between ubiquinone and ubiquinol to see which is more cost-effective.