Also known as ubidecarenone, Coenzyme Q10 is a natural vitamin-like substance that’s present in every cell of the body but is particularly abundant in those tissues that have higher energy demands, such as the heart, liver and skeletal muscle. CoQ10 is required for the cellular production of energy. It is sometimes referred to as the “spark plug” of the mitochondria (the component in each cell that produce the energy needed for all your bodily functions).
As a powerful fat-soluble antioxidant, CoQ10 also helps protect the cells in the body from free radical damage.
CoQ10’s ability to support heart and blood vessel health is due to its role in energy production and its antioxidant properties. Amongst other actions, it may support the cardiovascular system by helping to inhibit the oxidation of LDL-cholesterol (sometimes referred to as ‘bad’ cholesterol) which may in turn help to protect the arteries from the development of plaque. CoQ10 also replenishes the antioxidant activity of vitamin E, which may have many cardiovascular benefits of its own.
Despite the fact that CoQ10 is so important for heart health, its levels may be reduced by a group of medicines commonly prescribed for the management of cholesterol, called statins. Statins interfere with the actions of an enzyme that is required for the body’s production of CoQ10 and this may lead to reduced blood levels of CoQ10.
Where can I find CoQ10?
CoQ10 is both consumed from dietary sources and manufactured by the body. In the diet, small amounts of CoQ10 are found in beef, chicken, trout, salmon, oranges, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, nuts and soy. Vegetarians tend to have higher blood levels of CoQ10 than meat eaters, indicating that a high plant intake may keep CoQ10 levels high. Unfortunately, the amount of CoQ10 available from dietary sources may not be sufficient to reach therapeutic doses.
Additionally, our body’s levels of CoQ10 decline as we age, so supplementation may be beneficial for some people.
How much do I need?
The amount of CoQ10 you should take each day depends on the reason you’re taking it. Unless advised otherwise by your healthcare professional, suitable doses for most people are:
- To help maintain health and wellbeing, take 50 mg daily.
- To support cellular energy production, take 100 mg daily.
- To support healthy heart function, take 150 mg daily.