What it is
CoQ10 is variously described as an enzyme, a coenzyme, a nutrient and a vitamin-like substance. It is a naturally occurring substance found in the mitochondria of all plants and animals. (It is also also known as ubiquinone, from the same root as the word ubiquitous, which suggests it occurs virtually everywhere.)
What it does
CoQ10 acts as an antioxidant. Antioxidants appear to play a role in some kinds of cancers.
Cancer and CoQ10
CoQ10 first received attention in the 1970s because of a study of 32 cancer patients that reportedly showed the nutrient unexpectedly prolonged life. At lower levels (90 mg a day), cancer patients reportedly benefited from increased appetite, a reduction in pain and a decline in the number of new tumors. At higher doses (300 to 390 mg a day), some patients experienced remissions. The problem, however, is that subsequent researchers have raised serious concerns about the study and little or no similar research has since been done.
Heart disease and CoQ10
CoQ10 is one of a number of antioxidants under study to see whether it can help prevent plaque formation in the arteries, thereby reducing the risk of heart attack. Research shows that CoQ10 is one of the first antioxidants to be depleted when low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) oxidate. LDLs are the “bad” cholesterol lipids (you want a higher percentage of high-density lipoproteins, the HDLs).
Patients on heart medications called statins sometimes supplement with CoQ10, since this class of drugs appears to reduce level of the enzyme. Other studies appear to show a beneficial effect in supplementing with CoQ10 for patients who have open heart surgery. It is unclear what role CoQ10 may or may not play in lowering blood pressure.
Proponents of CoQ10 supplementation suggest it offers benefits in periodontal disease and diabetes. Part of the challenge of assessing its value in these cases stems from the fact that noting low levels of CoQ10 in sufferers does not mean that taking CoQ10 will have any effect on the condition. As with many supplements, it is difficult to assess the validity of all claims because of the lack of sustained and controlled research over time.
Though side effects are reportedly rare, with high doses, some people report headache, heartburn, mild diahrrea, skin reactions and invountary movements.
NOTE: This is NOT medical advice. Consult your physician for specific advice.