As a nutrient essential to energy production, coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, is a VIP (very important particle) within your body. It is one of the best nutrients you can feed your heart to support overall heart health, and I cannot imagine practicing cardiology without it.
What’s so special about Coenzyme Q10? This fat-soluble, vitamin-like compound found within all your body’s cells helps your body (and especially your heart) make the energy it needs to function and stay healthy.
Coenzyme Q10 and Heart Health
Your body makes, uses and recycles a molecule called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, for energy (you can learn more about ATP in this article). Among other crucial functions, your body uses ATP to keep your heart beating. How does CoQ10 help you make energy? It directly supports the mitochondria in your cells with regeneration of ATP, specifically, by assisting enzymes with electron transfer. In this role, CoQ10 acts as a coenzyme and is functioning in its whole form: ubiquinone.
Coenzyme 10’s power doesn’t stop here, though. It actually plays a another highly important role in your body as an antioxidant. After it assists your mitochondria with ATP regeneration, the efficient CoQ10 – in its reduced form, ubiquinol – serves as an antioxidant, protecting heart cell (myocyte) membranes and mitochondria from oxidative damage. Ubiquinol even travels through your bloodstream to quench free radicals and prevent oxidation of LDL in blood vessels. It truly is your heart’s best friend.
Food and Other Sources of CoQ10
As mentioned earlier, your bodyendogenously produces (makes its own supply of) coenzyme Q10: from amino acids, vitamins and minerals. However, at around the age of forty, production of CoQ10 within the body begins to decline, and impacts your ability to generate ATP. Heart muscle requires an incredible amount of CoQ10 to circulate oxygenated and nutrient-rich blood through your body. In fact, tissue levels of CoQ10 are usually ten times higher in the healthy heart than any other organ of the body, even the brain!
CoQ10 deficiency can be the result of age, malnutrition, or drug interference, and is associated with many heart conditions. Your CoenzymeQ10 levels can drop if you’re not getting enough of the various nutrients required to synthesize it, or if you’re taking statin drugs or beta blockers. The good news is, you can build up your supply of CoQ10 by consuming coenzyme-rich foods and supplements.
Good food sources of coenzyme Q10 include fish like Wild Alaskan Salmon (here are some recipes!), shellfish, meats, broccoli, spinach, and nuts.
Commercial CoQ10 supplements may vary in potency. You should look for a supplement that is bioavailable enough to significantly raise CoQ10 levels in your blood. Bioavailability describes how quickly, and in what concentration, your blood absorbs substances. Water- and fat-soluble forms of CoQ10 tend to be more bioavailable than dry powder blends. Blood levels of CoQ10 provide the most accurate assessment of how much CoQ10 is being absorbed and delivered to your tissues. Researchers agree that a 2.5 µg/ml blood level of CoQ10 is optimal, while 3.5 µg/ml is the preferred amount for people with severely diseased hearts.
How Much Coenzyme Q10 Should You Take?
With my patients, I always prescribed CoQ10 as part of their treatment plans, and would also recommend it to facilitate heart health and healthy aging in the following amounts:
- 90 – 250 mg daily for otherwise healthy people;
- 180 – 360 mg daily for those with hypertension;
- 300 – 600 mg daily for those with CHF (Start with 180 mg and work up to 300+ mg over three weeks);and
- 600 – 1,200+ mg daily for people with Parkinson’s disease and other debilitating illness such as cancer.
In addition to supporting heart health, CoQ10 supplementation can help cancer patients who receive Adriamycin, a form of chemotherapy, protect their hearts against the agent’s toxic effects. Supplementation with CoQ10 can also offset nutritional deficiencies caused by pharmaceutical drugs like beta blockers, statins, and antidepressants. Note: careful monitoring for drug interactions is suggested when blood thinners like Coumadin are in the picture.
It’s important to realize that there are no “cut-and-dry” guidelines about coenzyme Q10 dosages – what’s right for others, may not be right for you. Bottom line is that the “right” amount of coenzyme Q10 to take is the amount that helps makes YOU – the individual – feel better (remember to keep your doctor informed of the dosages of supplements you are taking).
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