Cellular respiration is the name for the process by which the ATP molecules are produced inside the mitochondria in our cells. Coenzyme Q10 in its oxidized form is an essential component in this process of energy production.
Fewer Coenzyme Q10 molecules in the mitochondria inevitably mean less ATP energy production. Fewer ATP molecules mean less energy for our cells.
Heart muscle cells with low Coenzyme Q10 concentrations and with fewer ATP molecules produced make for an energy starved heart.
What are these mitochondria, and what do they do?
You cannot read much about the importance of Coenzyme Q10 supplements without coming across the term “mitochondria” (singular form = mitochondrion). The mitochondria inside our cells are microscopic organelles that have an inner and outer membrane and their own DNA, which suggests that the mitochondria derive originally from bacteria that got inside animal cells quite early in the evolution of eukaryotic cells.
Our cells and the mitochondria inside them co-exist in a symbiotic relationship. Our cells provide a secure home for the mitochondria, and the mitochondria serve as the energy factories for our cells.
The mitochondria convert the energy that is in carbohydrates and fatty acids to energy in the form of ATP (See ATP ).
Coenzyme Q10 and Antioxidants are substances that protect the cells and lipoproteins against the harmful effects of free radicals. They are substances that prevent the oxidation of other molecules and compounds. There are two broad categories of antioxidants: enzymatic and non-enzymatic. Non-enzymatic antioxidants are substances like Coenzyme Q10, vitamin C, vitamin E, glutathione, and various carotenoids. Prominent enzymatic antioxidants include catalase, glutathione peroxidase,... Read more about this term protection of the cells
There are perhaps as many as 40 different genetic disorders that affect the role of the mitochondria in Cellular respiration is the technical term for the metabolic reactions and processes in the cells that convert the biochemical energy from nutrients into adenosine triphosphate (ATP) energy and then release waste products.... Read more about this term. One consequence of these genetic disorders is that the mitochondria are not able to metabolize completely the carbohydrates and fatty acids into ATP molecules.
As a result of this incomplete metabolism, harmful compounds known as Free radicals are unstable and highly reactive molecules that are produced in the body during normal oxygen metabolism. Free radicals derived from oxygen are known as reactive oxygen species. Free radicals play both helpful and harmful roles in the body. Free radicals steal electrons from other substances in order to become stable. In so doing, the free radicals oxidize those... Read more about this term are produced as a by-product. These harmful free radicals cause damage to the DNA, lipids, and proteins in our cells. Oxidative stress and oxidative damage are the names we give to the harmful effects of free radicals.
Coenzyme Q10 molecules in their reduced form provide antioxidant defense against oxidative damage in the cells. They neutralize many of the harmful free radicals.
Dual purpose of Coenzyme Q10
We need adequate quantities of Coenzyme Q10 molecules in our cells and in the mitochondria to carry out both biological functions:
- cellular energy production
- antioxidant protection of the cells
Coenzyme Q10 and ageing and heart disease and low energy disorders
It is entirely likely that mitochondrial malfunction is also the cause of many diseases beyond the identifiable genetic diseases:
- diseases associated with ageing
- heart disease
- low energy disorders such as Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a complicated disorder with an unknown cause. CFS is characterized by persistent fatigue that does not improve with rest and that cannot be explained by any identifiable medical condition. CFS is also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) and systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID). It is sometimes abbreviated ME/CFS. CFS patients typically have low levels of... Read more about this term
Coenzyme Q10 and the energy starved heart
Dr. William Judy, SIBR Research Institute, credits Dr. Svend Aage Mortensen, the lead researcher on the Q-Symbio is the abbreviated name for the two-year multi-center, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of Coenzyme Q10 supplements as an adjunct treatment of chronic heart failure patients. The name reflects the focus of the study on the SYMptoms, BIomarker status (BNP), and long-term Outcomes (hospitalizations and mortality) of the supplementation. The data from the Q-Symbio study show that long-term supplementation with... Read more about this term, with developing the idea that energy starvation of the heart muscle cells could be the primary cause of The Mayo Clinic defines heart failure, also known as congestive heart failure and/or chronic heart failure, as the failure of the heart muscle to pump blood to the body adequately. In other words, heart failure is not a heart attack, and it is not death from heart disease, which its name might seem to imply. Heart failure is a condition... Read more about this term. Dr. Mortensen first presented the documentation for the concept of cellular energy starvation, caused by an inadequate availability of Coenzyme Q10, in his doctoral dissertation submitted to the University of Copenhagen.
Lack of Coenzyme Q10 and the atrophy of the mitochondria
At its most basic, the theory proposed by Dr. Mortensen explains that, without an adequate supply of Coenzyme Q10, numerous mitochondria in the heart muscle cells will atrophy and will colonize adjacent to the cell membrane. There, these mitochondria will lie inactive and dormant, producing no energy.
However, it seems that some, perhaps many, of these atrophied mitochondria can be revived with time and Coenzyme Q10 supplementation.
The use of Coenzyme Q10 supplements as an adjunctive therapy – in conjunction with conventional medical therapy – can improve the symptoms and survival of chronic The Mayo Clinic defines heart failure, also known as congestive heart failure and/or chronic heart failure, as the failure of the heart muscle to pump blood to the body adequately. In other words, heart failure is not a heart attack, and it is not death from heart disease, which its name might seem to imply. Heart failure is a condition... Read more about this term patients. Coenzyme Q10 adjunctive therapy can reduce the extent of hospital stays and can reduce the risk of re-hospitalization [Mortensen 2014].
Cessation of Coenzyme Q10 therapy and the risk of relapse
Both Dr. Mortensen and Dr. Judy have warned that chronic heart failure patients on Coenzyme Q10 adjuvant therapy will suffer a relapse in their energy levels if the Coenzyme Q10 supplementation is stopped.
Moreover, given low cellular Coenzyme Q10 concentrations, the heart muscle cells will not have adequate antioxidant protection.
Coenzyme Q10 and the link to diseases associated with ageing
Just as an inadequate supply of Coenzyme Q10 molecules is implicated in heart disease, so too is the mitochondrial malfunction caused by a lack of Coenzyme Q10 molecules implicated in much physical degeneration associated with ageing and with many low energy syndrome disorders, notably chronic fatigue syndrome.
Summary of Dr. Judy’s studies of chronic fatigue syndrome
To summarize what we have learned about Coenzyme Q10 and mitochondrial malfunction, I present findings from Dr. Judy’s studies of chronic fatigue syndrome patients:
- Patients with low energy syndrome disorders — characterized by cellular energy starvation — have muscle tissue cells with relatively fewer active mitochondria.
- Many of the once active mitochondria in the energy starved cells seem to have migrated to the The cell membranes, sometimes called plasma membranes, are the physical barrier that protects the contents of the cells from everything that is outside the cells. The cell membranes also regulate what can move in and out of the cells. Coenzyme Q10 is present in all cell membranes in the body except in the red blood cells. It helps to prevent... Read more about this term and lie dormant there on the edge of the cells. These inactive mitochondria are not dead but are in a state of atrophy.
- A first round of therapy with 300 milligrams of Coenzyme Q10 supplements daily for one to two years will feed the energy starved skeletal muscle tissue through the existing mitochondria in the muscle cells.
- The longer -term Coenzyme Q10 supplementation will also regenerate some of the atrophied mitochondria that have colonized adjacent to the cell membranes.
- As the cellular energy starvation situation is corrected and the once dormant mitochondria become active in the cells, the patients’ muscle function will increase [Judy].
- Following the first round of supplementation with Coenzyme Q10, the rejuvenated mitochondria will still be active in the cells but will need to be fed with supplemental Coenzyme Q10 to continue to produce cellular energy.
- Coenzyme Q10 needs to be a life-long supplement in patients with marginal muscle cell kinetics. It is important to maintain optimal levels of cellular Coenzyme Q10 in patients with muscle energy deficiencies:
- chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome patients
- chronic heart failure patients
- patients taking statin medications
- Prader-Willi syndrome patients
- Parkinson’s disease patients
- Down syndrome patients
- Other patients with other low energy clinical conditions
The same need for Coenzyme Q10 supplements is most likely true of many healthy elderly individuals. Professor Urban Alehagen’s KiSel-10 study has shown that daily supplementation of healthy elderly adults with a combination of Coenzyme Q10 and high-selenium yeast protects heart function and reduces the risk of death from heart disease [Alehagen].
Many patients and many elderly people seem to lose the ability to produce enough Coenzyme Q10 themselves to prevent cellular energy starvation and to prevent the migration of once active mitochondria to the cell membranes where the mitochondria lie dormant.
Daily supplementation with a Coenzyme Q10 supplement with a full range of documentation can make a big difference.
Alehagen, U., Aaseth, J., & Johansson, P. (2015). Reduced Cardiovascular Mortality 10 Years after Supplementation with Selenium (symbol Se, atomic number 34) is a trace element that is an essential nutrient and an essential component of some of the most important antioxidants in the body, in particular the selenoproteins glutathione peroxidase, thioredoxin reductase, and selenoprotein P. Selenium is involved in the optimal functioning of the immune system. Professor Alehagen has pointed out that there exists a... Read more about this term and Coenzyme Q10 for Four Years: Follow-Up Results of a Prospective Randomized A double-blind study is a study in which neither the investigators nor the study participants know which participants are receiving the active treatment and which participants are receiving the control treatment until the study has been completed and the seal on the code has been broken.... Read more about this term Placebo-Controlled Trial in Elderly Citizens. Plos One, 10(12), e0141641.
Judy, W. V. & Folkers, K. (1993). Management of chronic fatigue syndrome patients with CoQ10. 8th. Intl. Symp. Biomed. and Clin. Aspects of CoQ, 55.
Mortensen, S. A., Rosenfeldt, F., Kumar, A., Dolliner, P., Filipiak, K. J., Pella, D., & Littarru, G. P. (2014). The effect of coenzyme Q10 on morbidity and mortality in chronic heart failure: results from Q-SYMBIO: a randomized double-blind trial. JACC. Heart Failure, 2(6), 641-649.
Mortensen, S. A. (1989, December) Endomyocardial biopsy. DMB: Danish Medical Bulletin, 36,6, 507-592.
Disclaimer: The information presented in this review is not intended as medical advice and should not be used as such.
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