Every day, the some 100 trillion cells in the body work hard. They ingest and digest nutrients, remove waste, and reproduce. Healthy cells provide the energy that ensures that we wake up in the morning, get to work, enjoy different types of recreation, and make it to bed at night.
To perform all the tasks that they must, cells create their own energy. The production of energy at the cellular level is commonly known as bioenergetics. Considering how active the human body is - remember that an average person uses 60% of his or her daily energy on base metabolism - we can see how important bioenergetics is.
Bioenergetics is dependent on food because cells manufacture their own energy by burning the substances found in foods. To do this, the foods we eat are broken down into smaller and smaller components, which include a number of carbon atoms. Eventually, the bonds between the carbon atoms are broken down into the electrons that make them up. These electrons contain energy that is converted into a substance called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). One of the bonds holding ATP together has great energy potential. When it is broken, it releases the equivalent of 7,000 calories. This is the energy our cells use to keep us alive.
A steady production of ATP is necessary because only about 3 ounces (84 g) of ATP are stored in the body at one time; the amount that will sustain a strenuous activity, such as running as hard as you can, for about five to eight seconds. You can see then, that it is important that our bodies have the most efficient means possible to produce this valuable substance. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a key in the formation of ATP; if we are lacking in coenzyme Q10, we cannot produce ATP efficiently.
CoQ10 acts as a shuttle, carrying important, energy-laden electrons and protons around the cell to eventually be turned into ATP. Without this shuttle, ATP would not be created, and cells would not be able to create the energy needed for our energy needs. According to a 1990 article in the American Journal of Cardiology, "Coenzyme Q10 is necessary for the mitochondria [components of cells] to perform their functions and is essential for human life."
What are the implications of bioenergetics and CoQ10 for health? As stated, all of our cells must produce energy for us to stay alive, and CoQ10 is an essential part of this energy production. It is thus logical that a deficiency in CoQ10 in any of the body's cells would affect body functions.
CoQ10 has been studied in relation to a wide range of body functions, with most of the studies concentrating on the cardiovascular system. Studies have shown that CoQ10 supplements can decrease the amount of medicine used by heart disease patients, improve health as measured by the New York Heart Association (NYHA) functional scale, improve overall quality of life for heart patients, and may help maintain healthy blood pressure levels.
CoQ10 has been shown to help maintain periodontal health and has been studied for contributing to increased energy. CoQ10 is also recognized as an antioxidant and immune booster.
Finding the fuel
The best sources of coenzyme Q10 are animal organs, some types of fish, and vegetable oils such as soybean, rapeseed, and sesame. It is found in lesser quantities in rice bran and wheat germ and in soy and other beans. It is also found in vegetables, in particular spinach and broccoli.
However, getting adequate amounts of CoQ10 from diet can be problematic: your body absorbs CoQ10 at only about a 1% to 2% rate. Compounding this is that as we age, our bodies cannot absorb or produce coenzyme Q10 as efficiently. Our lives and environment also affect coenzyme Q10 levels, in that stressful lives and polluted environments can deplete coenzyme Q10 from body tissue.
These factors - limited food sources and absorption, age, stress, and pollution - could lead to a deficiency of coenzyme Q10. By some estimates, as many as 75% of people over age 50 in the United States could be deficient in coenzyme Q10.
The answer is supplementation. William judy, Ph.D., one of the leading researchers on CoQ10, believes supplementation to be a "requirement."
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