Coenzyme Q10 is a vitamin-like substance that is an essential bio-nutrient. It is vital for the cellular process of ATP energy production. It is an important antioxidant protecting the cells against harmful free radicals. It is thought to improve epithelial cell function in the blood vessels and to protect against the development of atherosclerosis and high blood pressure. In this essay, we review some of the basic facts of Coenzyme Q10 absorption and bio-availability.
Importance of Coenzyme Q10 absorption Coenzyme Q10 bio-synthesis declines with age
Our bodies produce Coenzyme Q10 in much the same way that they produce cholesterol. However, once we reach our 20’s, our bio-synthesis of Coenzyme Q10 begins to decline with increasing age [Kalén]. One estimate is that the plasma Coenzyme Q10 concentration of an average 65-year-old will be only about half the plasma concentration of an average 25-year-old: approximately 0.65 micrograms per milliliter versus 1.35 micrograms per milliliter.
Okay, from solid research results, we know several things about the essential bio-nutrient Coenzyme Q10.
our bodies produce Coenzyme Q10, which is an essential substance for our cells’ energy production and for the antioxidant protection of our cells
once we reach our 20’s, our body’s own production of Coenzyme Q10 decreases with increasing age
statin medications inhibit our bodies’ production of Coenzyme Q10
we are very unlikely to get all the Coenzyme Q10 that we need from our food
the risk of heart disease and other diseases increases with the lesser availability of Coenzyme Q10
we need a daily Coenzyme Q10 supplement.
Coenzyme Q10 levels in tissue cell and in plasma Basic fact: Plasma Coenzyme Q10 levels will always exceed tissue cell Coenzyme Q10 levels except, possibly, in some very well-conditioned athletes, e.g. soccer players and cross-country skiers and cyclists. In some superior athletes, the tissue cell Coenzyme Q10 levels and the plasma Coenzyme Q10 levels may come close to being equal.
How does Coenzyme Q10 get from the blood to the cells?
Coenzyme Q10 molecules move from the blood into the tissue cells by the process of diffusion. If plasma Coenzyme Q10 concentrations were lower than the tissue cell Coenzyme Q10 concentrations, then the diffusion of Coenzyme Q10 from the blood into the tissue cells could not take place. There would need to be some sort of active transport of Coenzyme Q10 into the tissue cells, and we know of no active transport of Coenzyme Q10 into the tissue cells [Judy 2016].
Dr. William V. Judy earned his doctorate degree in physiology and bio-physics in 1971. He has worked as an aerospace scientist in NASA’s manned spacecraft center and has taught in the Indiana University School of Medicine as a Professor of Physiology. Dr. Judy has worked in basic and clinical research for 56 years now; the major focus of his research has been on the absorption, efficacy, and safety of Coenzyme Q10. He was an early colleague of Dr. Karl Folkers, with whom he carried out joint research studies for 21 years. Absorption of Coenzyme Q10 from supplements
Dr. Judy makes the following points about the absorption of Coenzyme Q10:
In this article, I look back over the past 80 q10facts.com articles and pick out my favorites. Together, these articles give a good picture of what I have tried to present on this website: documented results from scientific studies of the absorption, safety, and efficacy of Coenzyme Q10 supplements in the form of ubiquinone. At the present time, there simply is not the same quality or quantity of research results related to the use of Coenzyme Q10 supplements in the ubiquinol form.
Coenzyme Q10’s therapeutic value This article summarized the clinical research evidence for the use of Coenzyme Q10 as an adjunctive therapy for the following patients:
NQO1 gene? … NQO-1 enzymes? … I don’t remember reading or hearing about the NQO-1 gene in all of the years that I have been taking Coenzyme Q10 supplements. But, for Dr. William Judy, the NQO-1 gene seems to be one of the three or four Q10 questions that he has been most preoccupied with for several years.
NQO-1 gene important in the biochemistry of Coenzyme Q10
NQO-1 is used as shorthand for both the gene and the oxidoreductase enzymes that the gene codes for. The NADPH-Quinone Oxidoreductase-1 gene – to give it its full name – is the gene that codes in humans for the production of enzymes that reduce quinones to hydroquinones.
What is becoming more and more apparent about the absorption of Coenzyme Q10 nutritional supplements? I have been putting together the information that I have been reading and hearing. Here is what seems to be the case:
Raw material Coenzyme Q10: not the big difference maker
The Coenzyme Q10 raw material from the biggest producers of the dry powder crystalline substance seems to be comparable to a high degree. There seems to be equivalency of quality in the Coenzyme Q10 raw material. What counts is how the maker of Coenzyme Q10 supplements processes that raw material.
Dr. William Judy, the long-time Coenzyme Q10 researcher and founder and president of the SIBR Research Institute, makes the point that the absorption cells in the human small intestine cannot absorb Coenzyme Q10 crystals. The absorption cells can handle Coenzyme Q10 only as single molecules.
Coenzyme Q10 raw material in the form of dry powder crystals
The Coenzyme Q10 raw material that Coenzyme Q10 supplement manufacturers purchase comes in the form of dry powder crystals. These crystals are formed in the multiple drying stages of the purification of Coenzyme Q10.
For as long as I have been writing this blog, I have been wondering why cardiologists are not prescribing Coenzyme Q10 for certain classes of heart disease patients. Two classes of patients come to mind immediately: chronic heart failure patients and patients taking statin medications. Let’s look at the evidence for heart failure patients. (We can talk about patients on statin medications next week.)
Coenzyme Q10 and chronic heart failure
Chronic heart failure. Heart failure. It sounds scary. It is scary. The words “heart failure” do not mean that the heart has stopped working. What heart failure means is some combination of the following conditions:
We know that Coenzyme Q10 is an essential co-factor in at least three important processes in the body: cellular energy production, cellular and lipid antioxidant defense, and regulation of endothelial cell function. We know that our adult bodies produce less Coenzyme Q10 with increasing age, and we know that most of us cannot make up the difference through the food that we eat . From the age of 40 on, we need a good Coenzyme Q10 supplement daily. I asked Dr. William Judy what is involved in getting a good Coenzyme Q10 supplement.
On the sciencedaily.com website, there is a report of a conference paper presented by Dr. Suzanne Hagler of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Headache Society in San Diego. Dr. Hagler reported that teens and young adults with migraine headaches are often found to have mild deficiencies of Coenzyme Q10, vitamin D, and the B vitamin riboflavin .
Mild Coenzyme Q10 deficiencies in young people
Interesting, I thought. Coenzyme Q10 is produced in all of the body’s cells except the red blood cells. The body’s production of Coenzyme Q10 rises until a person reaches his or her 20s, and, from then on, the bio-synthesis of Coenzyme Q10 declines steadily. By age 65, senior citizens may be producing only half as much Coenzyme Q10 as they did when there were 25 years of age. Hence the need for a good Coenzyme Q10 supplement.