CoQ10 is a fat-soluble vitamin-like substance present in every cell of the body and serves as a coenzyme for several of the key enzymatic steps in the production of energy within the cell. It also functions as an antioxidant which is important in its clinical effects.
It is naturally present in small amounts in a wide variety of foods but is particularly high in organ meats such as heart, liver and kidney, as well as beef, soy oil, sardines, mackerel, and peanuts. To put dietary CoQ10 intake into perspective, one pound of sardines, two pounds of beef, or two and one half pounds of peanuts, provide 30 mg of CoQ10.
CoQ10 is also synthesized in all tissues and in healthy individuals normal levels are maintained both by CoQ10 intake and by the body's synthesis of CoQ10. It has no known toxicity or side effects.
CoQ10 levels in heart tissue decline disproportionately with age. At age 20, the heart has a higher CoQ10 level than other major organs. At age 80 this is no longer true, with heart levels cut by more than half. CoQ10 pioneer Karl Folkers (1985), in agreement with earlier Japanese studies, found lower CoQ10 levels in patients with more severe heart disease and showed that CoQ10 supplements significantly raised blood and heart tissue levels of CoQ10 in these patients. (1)
CoQ10 works with vitamin E to fight free-radical damage and help the body resist potential health concerns. CoQ10 is an electron carrier in the mitochondria, or energy-producing part of the cell. Therefore, CoQ10 is necessary for energy production in the body.
It also plays a part in preventing low-density lipoproteins, or LDL ("bad" cholesterol), from becoming oxidized, which helps protect the arteries and may play a role in reducing risk of cardiovascular disease.Because CoQ10 acts like an antioxidant, particularly against LDL cholesterol, supplementation is often recommended for people at risk for heart disease, or for those who currently have heart complications or elevated blood pressure.