By PETER H. LANGSJOEN, M.D., F.A.C.C.Permission is granted to reproduce this material for noncommercial use provided that the text, author's name, and copyright statement are not changed in any way.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ 10) or ubiquinone is essentially a vitamin or vitamin-like substance. Disagreements on nomenclature notwithstanding, vitamins are defined as organic compounds essential in minute amounts for normal body function acting as coenzymes or precursors to coenzymes. They are present naturally in foods and sometimes are also synthesized in the body. CoQ10 likewise is found in small amounts in a wide variety of foods and is synthesized in all tissues. The biosynthesis of CoQ10 from the amino acid tyrosine is a multistage process requiring at least eight vitamins and several trace elements. Coenzymes are cofactors upon which the comparatively large and complex enzymes absolutely depend for their function. Coenzyme Q10 is the coenzyme for at least three mitochondrial enzymes (complexes I, II and III) as well as enzymes in other parts of the cell. Mitochondrial enzymes of the oxidative phosphorylation pathway are essential for the production of the high-energy phosphate, adenosine triphosphate (ATP), upon which all cellular functions depend. The electron and proton transfer functions of the quinone ring are of fundamental importance to all life forms; ubiquinone in the mitochondria of animals, plastoquinone in the chloroplast of plants, and menaquinone in bacteria. The term "bioenergetics" has been used to describe the field of biochemistry looking specifically at cellular energy production. In the related field of free radical chemistry, CoQ10 has been studied in its reduced form (Fig. 1) as a potent antioxidant. The bioenergetics and free radical chemistry of CoQ10 are reviewed in Gian Paolo Littarru's book, Energy and Defense, published in 1994(1). Read more here
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