by Ruth Ann Clayton, RD

The essential energy nutrient Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is receiving a great deal of attention lately.  However, this vitamin-like fat-soluble substance was discovered simultaneously in the United States and England in 1957. The English researcher, Dr. Morton, gave it the name ubiquinone as it is “ubiquitous” or in almost every cell in our bodies. Now, 56 years later, there is renewed emphasis on CoQ10.

What is in this for you?  The answer is energy.  Energy in the body starts in the mitochondria, the power plants of the cells.  Mitochondria require CoQ10 to produce adenosine triposphate (ATP), which powers the cells and generates energy.  This makes CoQ10 a key player in transforming the food you eat into the energy fuel of ATP. You cannot function without this essential energy nutrient.

The list of CoQ10 benefits is impressive with heart support at the top. Because your heart is your largest energy-using organ, cardiologist and author Dr. Stephen Sinatra calls CoQ10 “the fertilizer of the heart”.  Extensive research suggests CoQ10 may promote healthy blood pressure, support your immune system and act as an antioxidant to fight free radicals (oxidation) caused by stress, poor diet and pollution. Periodontal diseases have been linked to a CoQ10 deficiency in dental tissues.

There are two kinds of CoQ10, ubiquinone and ubiquinol. The most common one up until a few years ago was ubiquinone. The body converts ubiquinone to the ubiquinol form typically found in the blood stream.  Ubiquinol is considered the biologically active form as some studies indicate it is more easily absorbed into the mitochondria.

Body levels of CoQ10 are dependent on your diet, production in your cells and supplementation. Your body produces CoQ10 using animal and plant amino acids, vitamins and trace minerals.  The average diet will yield small amounts of CoQ10 daily, perhaps 3-10 mg, with the primary source being meat. Smaller amounts can be derived from vegetarian sources such as whole grains, wheat germ, spinach, sweet potatoes, broccoli, a few vegetable oils and nuts.  Organ meats such as heart, liver, and kidneys are highest in CoQ10, which makes sense, as these organs require a large amount of energy.  The highest meat source is reindeer but you don’t find reindeer, or for that matter, any organ meats on your dinner plate very often do you.

Low levels of CoQ10 are common due to low dietary intake and declining body production as you age. Certain pharmaceuticals including cholesterol lowering statin drugs, beta-blockers, some antidepressants and anti-diabetic medications along with cancer, radiation, heavy levels of air pollution and even metal toxins will create depletions.  Supplementation with high quality CoQ10 may help curb these depletions.

Would CoQ10 supplementation be helpful for you?  Check with your health care provider.  Discuss the amount to take if you supplement due to the effect of prescriptions or are on blood thinning medication.  No daily dietary allowance of CoQ10 has been established but toxicity is not usually observed even at high doses.

All of this suggests that CoQ10 may not extend lifespan, but this energy nutrient might make it livelier.

Ruth Ann Clayton is the Registered Dietitian at Nature’s Way.  Reach her  This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.

Ruth Ann Clayton, Registered Dietitian, is active in both the American Dietetics Association and Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine Dietetic Practice Group. Her nationally accredited Dietetic Internship and her years of experience in public health and hospital settings reflect her commitment to your health and well being.

As the co-owner of Nature’s Way, she uses her comprehensive background to research products, read labels, investigate manufacturers and provide information for her customers.