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So, What Is CoQ10?
Coenzyme Q10, also known as ubiquinone, acts as an antioxidant in the body. Like other antioxidant nutrients such as vitamin C and E, it scavenges for cell-damaging free radicals which can move along the aging process faster then most of us would like and contribute to the development of serious diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Naturally found within cell mitochondria, which is where cellular energy is produced, CoQ10 is needed to produce adenosine triphosphate or ATP. ATP is the energy source behind a number of biological functions, making CoQ10 a beneficial compound for improving the body's efficiency at a cellular level and overall well-being.
Because of the potential of this compound there have been thousands of research studies on the possible benefits. More studies are required to verify that it can actually be used to treat and prevent various diseases and conditions, but the evidence is so far very positive.
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What are the health benefits of coenzyme Q10 for your heart? CoQ10 may help prevent and treat heart disease, lower blood pressure, help manage high cholesterol and hypertension for people who suffer from diabetes and protect and strengthen the heart in the face of chemotherapy or heart surgery, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. It is important to keep in mind that research is not sufficient in many cases to make definite conclusions, but this compound clearly seems to support cardiovascular health.
How is CoQ10 so powerful for the heart? As an antioxidant it protects the heart from free radical damage. It is also beneficial because it improves the energy production of cells, increases circulation and inhibits blood clot formation. The highest concentrations of coenzyme Q10 in the body are found in the heart.
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Four years after coenzyme Q10 was first identified there was an interest in the potential of this nutrient for the possible treatment of cancer. This is because researchers noticed that some cancer patients had low levels in their blood. As it is known that CoQ10 can improve immune function, it can be effective as a nutritional supplement taken in conjunction with primary treatments for cancer such as chemotherapy. According to the National Cancer Institute, animal studies have shown that coenzyme Q10 increases immune strength and helps to protect the body against some infections and types of cancer. Human clinical trials have been inconclusive. CoQ10 may also help to prevent cancer from developing due to its antioxidant activity.
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There may also be health benefits of coenzyme Q10 for the gums. There have been clinical trials showing that supplementing with CoQ10 can speed the healing process of periodontal disease and increase tissue repair. Periodontal disease is characterized by red, swollen and inflamed gums which can easily bleed and over time, recede. Coenzyme Q10 may be effective for improving gum healing when ingested or when used in a mouth rinse.
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Should You Take CoQ10?
CoQ10 has been shown in research to benefit a number of conditions, to improve overall well-being and to possibly help in the prevention of serious disease. Simply by boosting cellular energy production, increasing circulation, enhancing the immune system and acting as a protective antioxidant it can be useful for anyone looking for safe nutritional supplements to improve health. People looking for a good anti-aging supplement may also be interested in CoQ10.
Supplementing with coenzyme Q10 may be specifically beneficial for people who have:
- Heart disease or heart problems such as high blood pressure or an arrhythmia
- Certain types of cancer, or who are going through cancer treatment or who are at risk for some cancers (always talk to your doctor before taking supplements if you have cancer)
- Gum disease
- Chronic infections
- Alzheimer's disease
- Gastric ulcers
Before taking nutritional supplements however it is so important to talk to your doctor. This compound can interfere with many different types of medications, such as blood thinners and some chemotherapy drugs. It is not known to cause any side effects aside from an upset stomach, but still be careful not to take in excess (30 to 200 mg a day is a recommended safe dose). Avoid while pregnant or breastfeeding. As CoQ10 is fat soluble, be sure to take with food for proper absorption.
Studies have found that low levels of this compound are often present in people with certain illnesses such as cancer and periodontal disease. There is not a set of symptoms of a deficiency, but common problems such as high blood pressure, arrhythmia, angina, gum problems, stomach ulcers and poor blood sugar regulation have all been linked to a deficiency.
Coenzyme Q10 is also found naturally in peanuts, fish, sardines, meat, the germ of whole grains and spinach.
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Balch, Phyllis A. "Prescription for Nutritional Healing." Fourth Edition (Penguin Books, 2006).
University of Maryland Medical Center. http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/coenzyme-q10-000295.htm
National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/coenzymeQ10/patient/page2
World's Healthiest Foods. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=118#deficiencysymptoms
photo by ALB/flickr
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