The mitochondria are the tiny bean-shaped organelles in our cells. They take the glucose from our food and convert it into ATP energy molecules. Coenzyme Q10 is an essential component in this process of ATP energy generation.

Free radicals and antioxidants

Free radicals are both naturally occurring molecules created in our cells and stressors that enter our bodies from the environment, e.g., from cigarette smoke, environmental pollutants, certain medications, ozone, and ultraviolet radiation. Attribution: Lobo V, Patil A, Phatak A & Chandra N. CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The mitochondria are also major sources of free radical production in the cells. Free radicals are unstable molecules that take electrons from other molecules, which then become unstable. In moderate quantities, these free radicals have a role to play in cell signaling processes.

Free Radicals and Degenerative Diseases and Aging

However, the balance can easily be lost between the harmful free radicals and the antioxidants needed to neutralize them. Then, the free radicals can damage DNA molecules, lipids, and proteins in the body. Out-of-control free radicals cause oxidative damage. The oxidative stress has been linked to the development of degenerative diseases and to signs of aging [Mantle & Martin 2023].

Coenzyme Q10 is a Lipid-Soluble Antioxidant

It is here that Coenzyme Q10 has a protective function. Coenzyme Q10 in its reduced form — called ubiquinol — is a lipid-soluble antioxidant similar to vitamin E. Vitamin C, by contrast, is a water-soluble antioxidant. Selenium is an essential component of selenium containing antioxidant selenoenzymes such as the glutathione peroxidases and the thioredoxin reductases. Antioxidants neutralize the harmful free radicals and stop the oxidative damage.

Coenzyme Q10 and Heart Disease

Heart disease is characterized by mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress. Coenzyme Q10 is best known for its beneficial heart health effects:

  • improving the symptoms and survival of chronic heart failure patients when used as an adjuvant therapy [Mortensen 2014
  • reducing cardiovascular mortality of senior citizens when used as a supplement combined with selenium [Alehagen 2013]

Coenzyme Q10 and Other Diseases

In recent years, reviews of the bio-medical research literature have shown that supplementation with Coenzyme Q10 may be beneficial in other diseases that are also affected by mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress:

  • endocrine disorders [Mantle & Hargreaves 2023]
  • neurodegenerative disorders [Mantle & Hargreaves 2022]
  • immune system disorders [Mantle 2021]
  • liver disease [Mantle & Hargreaves 2020]
  • renal disease [Hargreaves et al 2019]
  • critical illness [Hargreaves & Mantle 2019]
  • diabetes [Mantle 2017]

The Bio-Synthesis of Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 has vitamin-like qualities and properties. However, it is not classified as a vitamin because the body can and does synthesize Coenzyme Q10. In fact, the body synthesizes Coenzyme Q10 in the same biological pathway as it synthesizes cholesterol. For this reason, statin medications and red yeast rice supplements that inhibit the body’s production of cholesterol will also adversely affect the bio-synthesis of Coenzyme Q10 [Okuyama 2015].

Furthermore, it is known that the body’s synthesis of Coenzyme Q10 declines with increasing age in the middle-age and senior years [Kalén 1989]. The decline in the endogenous production of Coenzyme Q10 varies from organ to organ. One estimate is that the CoQ10 production in heart muscle tissue at age 65 is, typically, 50% of the corresponding CoQ10 production at age 25 [Mantle & Martin 2023].

It is not possible to make up for the declining endogenous supply of Coenzyme Q10 by eating more wisely. Supplementation with a well-documented CoQ10 supplement is necessary [Judy 2021].

Formulation of the CoQ10 Supplement

A 2019 comparative bioavailability study has shown that the formulation of the CoQ10 supplement is decisive to its uptake in the gut. The study shows that the formulation of the supplement is more important than the form of the Coenzyme Q10 used in the supplement. Whether the Coenzyme Q10 in the supplement is in the oxidized form (ubiquinone) or in the reduced form (ubiquinol) is less important. Of primary importance to absorption and bioavailability is the employment of a process that results in the dissolution of the CoQ10 crystals to single molecules at body temperature [Lopez-Lluch 2019; Mantle & Dybring 2020].

The Chemical Structure of Coenzyme Q10

The reason for needing a proven manufacturing process is simple. The CoQ10 raw material is crystalline in form. The human body cannot absorb Coq10 crystals. The crystals must be dissolved to single molecules and must be absorbed as single molecules in the gut [Mantle 2023].

Not only that but CoQ10 molecules are very hydrophobic, making the transfer in the watery environment of the small intestines to the intestinal absorption cells difficult.

Conclusion: Coenzyme Q10 an Essential Supplement for the Mitochondria

Coenzyme Q10 belongs in the top tier of supplements – together with vitamin D supplements and fish oil supplements.

  • Coenzyme Q10 is an essential component in the process of ATP energy generation.
  • Coenzyme Q10 is an important lipid-soluble antioxidant.
  • Coenzyme Q10 is difficult to absorb and requires a scientifically tested formulation to be effective.


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The information presented in this review article is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used as such.