Coenzyme Q10 (also known as Q10 or ubiquinone) is a vitamin-like substance that plays a key role in the body's energy supply mechanism.
Q10 acts in conjunction with enzymes which convert sugars and fat into energy, in the form of the molecule ATP. This process occurs within the mitochondria, specialised structures found in all cells. Tissues with a high energy requirement (heart, skeletal muscles and liver) are particularly dependent on this process and an adequate supply of Q10.
Q10 is also important as a lipid-soluble antioxidant, protecting cell membranes (particularly those of the mitochondrion) from the damaging effects of free radicals.
Although some Q10 is obtained from the normal diet, most Q10 is manufactured within the body (e.g. by the liver). As people age, the capacity of the body to produce Q10 decreases; optimal Q10 production occurs around the mid-twenties, and decreases thereafter.
Q10 levels may also be depleted by intense physical exercise, illness or lipid-lowering statin drugs. Dietary supplementation with Q10 therefore provides a mechanism to maintain adequate Q10 levels within the body.