The saying, “you’re only as good as the company you keep” applies to people as much as it does to enzymes and their coenzyme support system. Coenzymes are organic molecules that link to enzymes, or protein, and help them  accelerate chemical reactions and produce energy. Taking coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, as a dietary supplement can help ensure that the enzymes in your body will keep the great company of CoQ10.

What is CoQ10?

CoQ10 is present in every cell of the body and benefits the body in numerous ways. It functions as an antioxidant by dispelling free radicals. Free radicals are damaging compounds that occur naturally in the body and can harm the cell membrane, DNA or cause cell death (1). Environmental toxins, like pollution, also increase the number of damaging particles in the body and CoQ10 can neutralize these free particles and even prevent some of their damaging effects.


CoQ10 also produces ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is a cell’s major energy source that helps with processes like muscle contraction and making protein (1). Therefore, supplementing with CoQ10 can boost your energy and enhance the immune system.

The coenzyme can be found in organ meats such as heart, liver and kidney, as well as beef, soy oil, sardines, oily fish and peanuts (2). However, levels of it in these foods are very small; for example, three ounces of beef contains 2.6 mg of the coenzyme and one tablespoon of soybean oil contains 1.3 mg (3). It is recommended that 30–100 mg be taken of this nutrient each day, 100–300 mg for therapeutic use, and it is beneficial to take it as a supplement with meals since it is fatsoluble (3).

Who needs CoQ10?

Because levels of CoQ10 decrease with age, it is especially beneficial for people over the age of 50 to supplement their bodies with this coenzyme (4). Supplementing with the coenzyme is safe and there are no significant side effects, even with large doses (3).

The most beneficial effect of this coenzyme is supporting heart health (1). The heart “is one of the most metabolically active tissues in the body,” (4) and since CoQ10 helps in the production of energy, its deficiency can cause serious heart problems. One study found that people who took the supplement daily within three days after a heart attack “were significantly less likely to experience subsequent heart attacks and chest pain. In addition, these same patients were less likely to die of heart disease than those who did not receive the supplements” (1). It has been found that supplementing with CoQ10 can support heart health after chemotherapy, after a stroke and during heart surgery (1).

Studies have also found that the coenzyme can help maintain healthy blood pressure as well as cholesterol levels. It is recommended that CoQ10 be taken with statins, or cholesterol-lowering medication, since these drugs deplete the number of the coenzymes in the body (1). High blood pressure and high cholesterol, along with heart disease and blood sugar, are common symptoms associated with diabetes, and studies have shown that supplementing with CoQ10 can help manage the symptoms of this disease (1).

CoQ10 supplementation can also help those with Parkinson’s disease. A study found that those who took the coenzyme had a slower deterioration of function when compared with a placebo. The supplement was well tolerated and those who took a higher dosage had more significant improvement (3).

Another interesting benefit of CoQ10 is its ability to help those with periodontal (gum) disease. The supplement quickly heals the swelling, bleeding and redness of the gums and repairs tissue in studies, and there are mouth rinse products with the coenzyme (1).

On the Market

There are two forms of CoQ10, ubiquinone and ubiquinol. Ubiquinone is the oxidized form of the coenzyme and has been used as a dietary supplement for the past 40 years. Ubiquinol has been available as a supplement since 2006 and is said to benefit those who cannot readily absorb ubiquinone (5). WF

1. University of Maryland Medical Center, “Coenzyme Q10,”
, accessed Aug. 17, 2010.
2. American Heart Association, “Coenzyme Q10,”, accessed Aug. 17, 2010.
3. J. Higdon, Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University,
“Coenzyme Q10,”, accessed Aug. 17, 2010.
4. M.T. Murray, “Coenzyme Q10 Information and Benefits,”, accessed Aug. 17,2010.
5. Medical News Today, “Clinical Trial Shows Ubiquinol Has Significant Effect On Patients With Congestive Heart Failure,”, accessed Aug. 17, 2010.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, October 2010