CoQ10 and Cellular Energy Production

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each day, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
CoQ10 – Pivotal Player in Cellular Energy Production

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a ubiquitous compound (hence the proper name, ubiquinone) that occurs in every cell in the body. The main function of CoQ10 is to maintain a rapid rate of conversion of oxygen (O2) to water (H2O) in the mitochondria of a cell. In the process, the free electrons produced during the chemical conversion of sugars and fats into chemical energy are captured and transferred (along with protons; H+) to oxygen molecules. The energy released in reducing oxygen (O2) to water (H2O) is harnessed to produce ATP, the carrier of chemical energy from the mitochondria to the rest of the cell.

CoQ10 is absolutely required in order for the free electrons to reach the oxygen within a cell. In fact, CoQ10 is the lynchpin in the entire “electron transport chain,” linking the molecules that shuttle the free electrons through the cell to the special proteins (“cytochromes”) that deliver the electrons directly to O2 molecules.

Because CoQ10 plays such a central role in hooking up electrons and oxygen, the amount of CoQ10 available determines the rate of energy production by a cell – even if there are plenty of oxygen and electrons “in waiting.” Humans can synthesize CoQ10 endogenously and therefore it is not considered a vitamin. However, research shows that CoQ10 levels decline with age and with the use of certain medications. Hence, supplementation of CoQ10 is needed to replenish levels. CoQ10 availability in the cells’ mitochondria is a major determinant of energy production and, therefore, the speed and power of contraction in heart muscle cells (“cardiomyocytes”) and, in fact, in all muscles.1

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
CoQ10, Heart Muscle Energetics and Cardiac Contraction

1. Lenaz G, Parenti Castelli G, Fato, D’Aurelio M, Bovina C, Formiggini G, Marchetti M, Estornell E, Rauchova H. Coenzyme Q deficiency in mitochondria: Kinetic saturation versus physical saturation. Mol Aspects Med 1997;18 (Suppl.):S25-S31.

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