Coenzyme Q10 is an essential part of the mitochondrial respiratory chain. Every eukaryotic cell therefore needs coenzyme Q10, hence its alternative name ubiquinone. Coenzyme Q10 functions as an electron acceptor in the mitochondria and in this way is involved in the transfer of electrons from the energy producing pathways of glycolysis and the citric acid cycle to molecular oxygen, leading to the production of water and carbon dioxide. In this process ATP is produced and coenzyme Q10 is therefore pivotal in energy production. Coenzyme Q10 is synthesised endogenously in humans and so on first sight it might appear that dietary coenzyme Q10 is not important. However, since its discovery in 1957 by Crane and his coworkers, it has been shown repeatedly that dietary coenzyme Q10 does have particular health benefits in certain subgroups of the population. In particular high doses of supplemental coenzyme Q10 may be beneficial as an antioxidant as well as in the treatment of cardiovascular disease and periodontal disease.
Coenzyme Q10 is known to possess antioxidant ability in humans, and in this regard is effective at preventing lipid peroxidation. Coenzyme Q10 can work to recycle vitamin E (here) and thus is able to protect cell membranes from oxidation. Evidence suggests that ageing can reduce the synthesis of coenzyme Q10. As levels of coenzyme Q10 drop, the most metabolically active tissues are affected first. Because the heart is very metabolically active, a low production of coenzyme Q10 can cause heart problems. Supplemental coenzyme Q10 has been shown to be beneficial at protecting from the symptoms of cardiovascular disease, with particularly efficacy shown against congestive heart failure. This makes sense, because congestive heart failure is seen as a condition caused by an inability for the heart to pump correctly and this may relate to low energy levels in heart tissue muscle. As well as congestive heart failure, coenzyme Q10 has been shown to be effective against high blood pressure, mitral valve prolapse and angina.
Another use for supplemental coenzyme Q10 is in the treatment of periodontal disease. Poor oral hygiene can allow a buildup of bacteria and plaque within the mouth and this leads to inflammation that causes a receding gum line. Eventually this progresses to periodontitis and the the teeth become inflamed because pockets of bacteria spread to below the gum line. As the bone that hold the teeth is destroyed, the teeth can fall out and cause irreversible damage. Consensus is that oral hygiene plays an important role in the aetiology of periodontal disease. However, if oral hygiene is improved, the gum tissue requires large amounts of energy to heel. This makes coenzyme a useful supplements to take to repair the damage from receding gums. Studies show that coenzyme Q10 can reduce inflammation in cases of periodontal disease. Around 50 to 200 mg of coenzyme Q10 is used to treat cardiovascular disease and periodontal disease, but lower doses can still provide significant antioxidant protection from oxidative stress.