About CoQ10

What is a Coenzyme?

A coenzyme is a substance needed for the proper functioning of an enzyme, a protein that speeds up the rate at which chemical reactions take place in the body. Coenzymes are vital participants in many of the ongoing chemical reactions in our bodies that are the very essence of life.

CoQ10 which is also called Ubiquinone/Ubiquinol (from ubiquitous - found everywhere) is a vitamin like substance that is found in almost all living cells. Without CoQ10 we would die. Unlike vitamins that must be obtained from external sources (by way of our food or by supplementation), CoQ10 is synthesised in the body although this is a complex process which can be inhibited especially if there is a deficiency of other essential nutrients. Also under certain circumstances (e.g. after strenuous exercise, or in times of illness, or as a result of taking some pharmaceutical drugs) production of CoQ10 cannot always meet the body's requirements for it. In addition, research shows that from the age of 20, production of CoQ10 slows down. This is why CoQ10 is considered to be a 'conditionally essential nutrient'.

In order that our vital organs, the heart, liver, kidneys etc are able to function properly and meet their energy requirements, they depend on receiving and maintaining a sufficient supply of CoQ10. Coenzyme Q10 is therefore recognized as a vital component in the process in the mitochondria (the power-plants of our cells) that convert the energy in the foods that we eat into the fuel (known as Adenozine Triphosphate - ATP) necessary to drive cellular machinery in the body.

In addition to the important process which provides energy, CoQ10 also stabilizes cell membranes and acts as an antioxidant. In this capacity, it destroys free radicals, the unstable molecules that can cause damage to normal cells in the body.

The Chemical Structure of CoQ10

Coenzyme Q10 is a two part compound. The 'Q' stands for Quinone (any class of aromatic yellow compounds that are biologically important as coenzymes or acceptors or vitamins). The '10' stands for the number of isoprenoid units in the tail portion of the molecule. Mammals generally have 10 isoprenoid units in the tail portion.

The History of CoQ10

As with other amazing breakthroughs in medicine, CoQ10 was discovered by chance when researchers were looking for a vitamin that could bridge a gap in the mitochondrial energy conversion process.

The story goes back to 1957 and to a Wisconsin University laboratory where researchers were conducting experiments on mitochondria in beef hearts. One of the researchers, Dr Frederick Crane PhD noticed some yellow crystals in a test tube containing lipid which had been extracted from the mitochondria and stored in a refrigerator for future investigation. Dr Crane felt these crystals deserved a second 'look' and when he used a technique called light absorption spectrum he identified the substance as a quinone (a family of organic compounds that have properties related to energy conversion).

With his curiosity now aroused, Dr Crane sent off a sample of the yellow substance to Dr Karl Folkers PhD who at the time was a leading biochemist at Merck Sharpe and Dohme Laboratories in New Jersey. Dr Folkers confirmed that the substance was a quinone and he identified it's chemical structure as 2,3 dimethoxy-5 methyl-6 decaprenyl-1,4 benzoquinone.

The researchers had stumbled onto the missing link and it would turn out to be a very significant link.

Dr Folkers left Merck Sharp and Dohme in 1963 to take up a position as president of the Stanford Research Institute. He held this position for five years before moving on where for the next thirty years he was research professor of chemistry and later director of the Institute for Biomedical research at the University of Texas in Austin.

Until his death in 1997 at the age of 91, Dr Folkers conducted and encouraged research on the biochemistry and clinical applications of CoQ10.

Chronological History

CoQ10 Facts


Much research has been conducted into the role that Coq10 might have in:

What Others are saying

New and revolutionary treatments of disease, particularly where there has been no treatment of intrinsic biochemical significance, have generally been believable to a few persons and unbelievable and even ridiculous to others before proof of efficacy. Revolutionary therapy has always been so and perhaps always shall be, but such is the nature of true discovery. It appears that the bioenergetics of CoQ10 is remarkable and its potential in medicine is no exception to the history of controversial advances in medicine.
The late Karl Folkers, PhD, Researcher

It is unthinkable for me to practice good cardiology without the help of Coenzyme Q10. And, for the thousands of people with cardiac conditions so severe that they need a heart transplant, CoQ10 may be a suitable alternative that not only enhances the quality of life, but extends survival as well.
Stephen Sinatra, MD, FACC, Cardiologist & Author, 'The Coenzyme Q10 Phenomenon'

Energy is life, and CoQ is a crucial component of the energy cycle and therefore of life itself.
Emile Bliznakov, MD Researcher and Gerald Hunt, co-authors, The Miracle Nutrient: Coenzyme Q10.

Coenzyme Q10 a heart medicine used around the world, and if your doctor doesn't know about it, you can easily get it on your own; it could save your life.
Jean Carper, Author of best-seller Miracle Cures

CoQ10 is an essential element of food that can now be used medically. So if CoQ10 is so good, why don't more doctors use it? The answer to the question is found in the fields of politics and marketing and not in the fields of science and medicine. The controversy surrounding CoQ10 is political and economic, as the previous 30 years of research on CoQ10 have been remarkably consistent and free of major controversy. Although it is not the first time that a fundamental and clinically important discovery has come about without the backing of a pharmaceutical company, it is the first such discovery to so radically alter how physicians must view disease. While the pharmaceutical industry does a good job at physician and patient education on their new products, the distributors of CoQ10 are not as effective at this.
Peter Langsjoen, MD, Cardiologist

Studies show that most people with congestive heart failure have a deficiency of CoQ10 in their heart muscle. The lower the levels, the worse the congestive heart failure. But studies also show that patients who were supposed to die 15 years ago from congestive heart failure are still alive today primarily because of taking Coenzyme Q10 daily.
William Lee Cowden, MD, Cardiologist

Coenzyme Q10 is an amazing natural substance with far reaching therapeutic potential, it should be used more extensively in the treatment of patients.
Michael Schachter, MD, FACAM

Deficiencies of CoQ10 have been documented in patients with heart disease. Administration of CoQ10 ameliorated symptoms, reduced the number of hospitalizations and appeared to decrease the number of anginal attacks in patients with angina pectoris.
Alan Gaby, MD

I also recommend it (CoQ10) for patients on cholesterol-lowering medications. The HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors that block production of cholesterol in the liver also block the body's natural production of CoQ10. Adverse effects include myopathy, muscle weakness and tiredness. When a patient has one of these medications prescribed, we also suggest he supplement his diet with CoQ10.
John J. Herr, RPh, Pharmacist

In one case, I went to see a newborn diagnosed with cardiomyopathy. I asked the attending doctor if he tried coenzyme Q10 or carnitine. He said that he had read about their effects but would not use either. With the family's permission, I treated the baby with these supplements. The baby recovered without the heart transplant surgery that was being recommended by the university medical center.
Gary Gordon, MD, DO