Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10 for short, plays a critical role in metabolic processes dealing with ATP. As part of the energy creation process, CoQ10 acts as a powerful antioxidant. It protects cells and mitochondria by neutralizing dangerous free radicals. This valuable enzyme is present in every cell of the body, although organs with high energy requirements such as the heart, liver, and kidneys possess higher concentrations.
Sources of CoQ10
The human body produces CoQ10 on its own, more so when your health is in good order. Individuals taking cholesterol-lowering drugs often experience depleted levels of CoQ10 in the heart, increasing the exact same health risk the drugs are attempting to fight. This is where physician-monitored supplementation is advised. CoQ10 is also found in many foods, especially chicken and beef, broccoli, nuts, fish, and dark leafy greens.
Can We Become Deficient in CoQ10?
A deficiency is certainly possible, usually stemming from a number of reasons. Although naturally occurring and available through the diet, environmental toxins assaulting the body on a daily basis can reduce normal dietary and biologic availability of CoQ10 and lead to deficiency. Low B-vitamin levels can affect the body's ability to create CoQ10. Vigorous activity, while a healthy aspect of a strong metabolism, increases free radicals and reduces available CoQ10. Also, as previously stated, statins that lower cholesterol levels also tend to dramatically decrease levels of the enzyme.
What are Signs of Deficiency?
As a critical factor in basic cellular function, low CoQ10 levels have been observed in a variety of illnesses. Raised LDL cholesterol levels (the “bad” cholesterol) and heart problems such as angina and arrhythmia have been associated with low levels of CoQ10. Other health problems linked to deficiency include fatigue, high blood pressure, blood sugar imbalance, stomach ulcers, and neurodegenerative diseases. 
Does Supplementation Help?
Higher levels of CoQ10 are known to promote heart, brain, and muscular health. Its role maintaining and protecting mitochondrial function may support healthy aging. Researchers continue to explore CoQ10 as a treatment option for a variety of diseases. Patients with coronary heart disease supplementing with CoQ10 showed significant reductions in inflammation compared to placebo after taking 300 mg/day.  One study reported individuals suffering from fibromyalgia and other neurologic disorders experienced improved quality of life with CoQ10 supplementation.  Other studies observed the alleviation of fatigue and symptoms of chronic disease by increasing CoQ10 levels. 
What to Look for in a Supplement
CoQ10 supplements often contain two forms: ubiquinol (the active antioxidant form) and ubiquinone. As a fat-soluble compound, soft-gels are ideal as they make it more bioavailable than dry gelatin capsules. The most bioavailable form of CoQ10, Kaneka Q10, ensures the body gets the highest concentration from the supplement.
As always, if you are pregnant or taking medication, consult with your doctor before beginning a new supplement.
Do you take a CoQ10 supplement? Let us know how it's working for you!
-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM