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Common Antioxidants
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Coenzyme Q10 is a required factor for the energy production in the human body and an antioxidant of a variety of health benefits

Coenzyme Q10 as the essential factor for life

Coenzyme Q-10 (CoQ-10 or Ubiquinone) is a naturally occurring small organic molecule that contains quinone substructure, which is found in most aerobic organisms from bacteria to mammals. It was first isolated in 1940 from the mitochondria of the beef heart, in 1957.

The other commonly used names for coenzyme Q10 are Coenzyme Q, CoQ, CoQ10, Ubiquinone, Ubiquinone-Q10, Ubidecarenone, or Vitamin Q10.

Coenzyme Q is a series of molecules with varying number of isoprenoid side-chains they have. CoQ10 is the most common Coenzyme Q in human mitochondria. The 10 refers to the 10 isoprene repeats.

A coenzyme distinguishes from a normal enzyme. An enzyme is a macromolecule of amino acid repeats – proteins, while a coenzyme is small molecule: a small peptide or an organic molecule that does not contain amino acids. Coenzymes are critical factors that bind with enzymes for the enzyme-catalyzed biochemical reactions to take place. In some cases, enzymes do not work at all without a coenzyme as a co-factor. In some other cases, a macromolecular enzyme may work differently when binding with different coenzymes or cofactors. Coenzyme Q10 is just one of many coenzyme factors that are essential in the biological processes.

CoQ10 is ubiquitous with variable levels in various tissues in the human body. Coenzyme Q10 has the highest concentrations in heart, kidney, and liver (114, 66.5, and 54.9g/g tissue, respectively), where metabolism activities are much more intensive and require a large supply of biological energy as carried by ATP molecules. Coenzyme Q10 is the crucial cofactor for other enzymes to catalyze the electron-transfer reactions and to generate the required energy via synthesizing ATP - adenosine triphosphate. CoQ10 is essential for the health of virtually all human tissues and organs. The whole body content of CoQ10 is approximately 500-1500 mg and decreases with age.

CoQ10 is a required substance for conversion of food into energy. The deficiency of CoQ10 leads to the dysfunction of the respiratory chain or electron-transfer chain reactions, in which food is oxidized to carbon dioxide and water, and energy is transferred to make ATP molecules. The consequences of the deficiency include the insufficient production of highly energetic compounds like ATP, and the decrease of the immunity in the human body.

Coenzyme Q10 as an antioxidant for longer and healthier life

Coenzyme Q10 is one of the most effective lipid antioxidants, preventing damages by free radicals on proteins, lipids, and DNA. Many disease conditions are associated with increased generation and action of reactive oxygen species (ROS), and are correlated with the reduced levels of coenzyme Q10 in the human body.

The reactive oxygen species includes hydroxyl radical (HO•), hydroperoxy radical (HOO•), hydrogen peroxide (HOOH), etc. The living systems on the earth have evolved highly sophisticated and complex defense systems to  protect the cells and organ systems from being damaged by ROS. Antioxidants are the “weapons” that living systems use in combating free radicals and minimizing the free radical damages. CoQ10 is one of weapons – antioxidants, and has special characters in the defense systems of life.

CoQ10 is one of the antioxidants made endogenously in the human body, and plays the roles complementary to those played by antioxidant enzymes (bilirubin, thiols, ubiquinones, and uric acid), metal-binding proteins (albumin, ceruloplasmin, ferritin, and myoglobin), exogenous phytochemical antioxidants absorbed from food such as Vitamin C and E, beta carotene, and polyphenols. The whole antioxidant defense system involves many components, which function interactively and synergistically to terminate free radical chains effectively before the radicals can make any profound or irreversible damages to the body tissues.

Supplementation of CoQ10 improves energy and augments the immune system, in addition to its role as an antioxidant. Coenzyme Q10 supplements alone or in combination with other drug therapies and nutritional supplements have been recognized for middle-aged and older people,  healthy people, and people of the following medical  conditions: cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, cancer, periodontal diseases, mitochondrial disorders, radiation injury, obesity, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), gastric ulcers, allergy, migraine headaches, kidney failure, muscular dystrophy, and aging.

CoQ10 is a required factor in maintaining and boosting the immune system and physical performance. The adequate supply of CoQ10 to tissues and cells is a must for the highly energy-dependent immune system to function at the optimal conditions. Some rich dietary sources of coenzyme Q10 include oily fish (such as salmon and tuna), organ meats (such as liver), and whole grains. Healthy people may obtain sufficient amounts of CoQ10 through a balanced diet. CoQ10 supplementation may be necessary for people of particular medical conditions.

CoQ10 supplementation can made through commercially available products, including soft gel capsules, oral spray, hard shell capsules, tablets, and drink powder. A daily CoQ10 dosage of 30 to 90 mg is generally adequate, but the recommended amount can be as high as 200 mg per day for people of special medical conditions

CoQ10 is insoluble in water because it is non-polar molecule and is highly hydrophobic.  It is fat-soluble, so it is better absorbed when taken with a meal that contains oil or fat. There is no such a thing as water-soluble coenzyme Q10, even though coenzyme Q10 can be made as a water emulsion preparation for a drink by adding a special material -an emulsifier (also known as an emulgent). An example of emulsifiers is known as surface active substances, or surfactants. So-called liquid CoQ10 is just a kind of formulation that contains a food grade emulsifier. Any special formulation of coenzyme Q10 can only achieve a very limited improvement in its absorption. A truly revolutionary technology for coenzyme Q10 absorption, as claimed by some commercial companies, is impossible, as you cannot change the fundamental chemical and physical properties of the CoQ10 molecule.

Coenzyme Q10 supplement is different from a prescription drug in that dietary supplement acts much slower. It may take up to 8 weeks  for the clinical effect of CoQ10 to be felt. The advantage for a CoQ10 dietary supplement is its low or essentially not any side effects. Minor side effects of CoQ10 may include diarrhea and rash. Pregnant women,  nursing women, and children should not take a coenzyme Q10 supplement without consulting a professional medical practitioner.

In conclusion, coenzyme Q10 is one of the most significant fat-soluble antioxidants that can effectively terminate free radical reaction chains in the body and prevent damages of free radicals on proteins, lipids, and DNA.


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