CoQ10: Mitochondrial Health and Function

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each day, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
CoQ10 – Preserver of Mitochondrial Health and Function

The “mitochondrial theory of aging” postulates that the accumulation of free radical-induced damage to mitochondrial DNA in mature cells (such as cardiomyocytes) eventually results in the production of abnormal mitochondrial proteins.9 These abnormal proteins cannot sequester and restrain free electrons as well as they should and more electrons escape to cause even more oxidative damage in an escalating vicious cycle.

In addition, because fewer free electrons reach oxygen molecules, the cell cannot produce a normal amount of energy.9 If this theory is correct, then maintaining a high level of cellular and mitochondrial CoQ10 through dietary supplementation can sustain a high degree of efficient energy metabolism within mitochondria and can make a fundamental contribution to maximal cellular health and function. As shown in recently published studies CoQ10 protects mitochondria from “runaway” free electrons – and nowhere will this contribution be as appreciated as within the human heart.10,11

As an added antioxidant benefit, CoQ10 also spares vitamin C and vitamin E. As these vitamins perform their antioxidant functions and become oxidized themselves, they are likely to be excreted in the urine – which means that each such “lost” vitamin C or vitamin E molecule must be replaced through the diet or through supplementation. Fortunately, CoQ10 is able to receive their free electrons, effectively recycling these nutrients for use as antioxidants and allowing them to continue protecting the body from oxidative damage.12,13 The free electron-carrying CoQ10 molecule then is able to transfer the electron to other antioxidant molecules, retaining the sequestration of the electron while regenerating itself.12

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
CoQ10 – CoQ10 and Cholesterol

9. enova ML, Pich MM, Biondi A, Bernacchia A, Falasca A, Bovina C, Formiggini G, Parenti Castelli G, Lenaz G. Mitochondrial production of oxygen radical species and the role of Coenzyme Q as an antioxidant. Exp Biol Med 2003;228:506-513.
10. Fernandez-Ayala DJ, Lopez-Lluch G, Garcia-Valdes M, Arroyo A, Navas P. Specificity of coenzyme Q10 for a balanced function of respiratory chain and endogenous ubiquinone biosynthesis in human cells. Biochim Biophys Acta 2005;1706:174-183.
11. Arroyo A, Navarro F, Gomez-Diaz C, Crane FL, Alcain FJ, Navas P, Villalba JM. Interactions between ascorbyl free radical and coenzyme Q at the plasma membrane. J Bioenerg Biomembr 2000;32:199-210.
12. Lass A, Sohal RS. Effect of coenzyme Q(10) and alpha-tocopherol content of mitochondria on the production of superoxide anion radicals. FASEB J 2000;14:87-94.
13. Mabuchi H, Higashikata T, Kawashiri M, Katsuda S, Mizuno M, Nohara A, Inazu A, Koizumi J, Kobayashi J. Reduction of serum ubiquinol-10 and ubiquinone-10 levels by atorvastatin in hypercholesterolemic patients. J Atheroscler Thromb 2005;12:111-119.

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