Photo: Getty Images
Coenzyme Q-10 (CoQ-10) is a substance similar to a vitamin that is found naturally in the mitrochondria, which is where energy is produced inside cells. CoQ-10 is used by the body to make ATP which is a major source of power for cells similar to a rechargeable battery. ATP is necessary for certain functions such as muscle contraction and to produce protein.
Why CoQ-10 is used
Many different uses for CoQ-10 have been proposed but few undergone enough testing to be conclusive.
• Low CoQ-10 levels
- For people whose natural levels of CoQ-10 are too low, supplements can help reduce symptoms including weakness, fatigue, and seizures.
• Heart and blood vessel disease
– Researchers believe failure of the mitochondria to produce enough energy for cells may be a contributing factor in heart disease as well as degenerative nerve diseases. Since CoQ-10 is used to produce the power source ATP, some scientists believe CoQ-10 may be helpful in slowing the progression of these diseases. More testing is needed.
• Increase energy
– Some people believe supplements may increase energy for more vigorous or effective exercise.
• Life span
– Because levels of CoQ-10 decline as we age, some people believe supplements could act as a “fountain of youth” to delay aging and help them live longer. Laboratory testing showed this worked on bacteria, but did not work on rats. More testing will be needed to determine if it works on people.
– CoQ-10 is known to be an antioxidant which can limit the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are particles that attack and damage cells. They can alter DNA and cause the death of cells and are believed to contribute to heart disease, cancer, and the aging process. Free radicals exist naturally in the body. Certain toxins including smoking, radiation, and air pollution can increase the number of free radicals in the body. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals which prevents them from causing damage to cells.