Our normal average requirement for coenzyme Q10 has never been precisely established. Even the German Nutrition Association offers no clear guidelines. But what is clear is that our need for it can increase according to circumstances, e.g.
- Stress increases energy usage
- Sport increases energy usage
- Age: from the age of about 40, our body's own production of coenzyme Q10 gradually declines
- Smoking increases oxidative stress
- Medication such as statins, or hormonal preparations such as the pill or cortisol, can reduce the levels of coenzyme Q10
- Chronic illness: chronic inflammation (e.g. chronic polyarthritis) increases oxidative stress and consequently the need for antioxidants
With increasing age, coenzyme Q10 levels in the blood and organs decline, particularly in the cardiac muscle, which requires constant supplies of the coenzyme to keep beating. The energy produced by the cells' powerhouses, the mitochondria, depends directly on the amount of coenzyme Q10 in the cells. A lack of the coenzyme in the cells therefore results in decreasing cardiac performance. This can result in tiredness and increasing exhaustion. Conversely, the cardiac muscle in particular benefits from healthy levels of the coenzyme.
If the coenzyme Q10 can no longer be produced in sufficient quantities by the body itself, particularly in old age, then it must be obtained from food or nutritional supplements. It has been observed in cardiovascular patients that levels of the coenzyme tail off rapidly when its intake via food is stopped. It is therefore advisable to continue to take the coenzyme over a sustained period, subject to consultation with a suitably qualified medical practitioner.
High usage (e.g. during physical labour or sport) and high energy intake (from excessive food intake or eating too much high-energy food) can increase the creation of free radicals. This increases oxidative stress. High-energy usage also increases the amount of coenzyme Q10 needed to provide energy in the form of ATP. Sportsmen and women therefore use high amounts of this coenzyme. A lack of it can clearly and measurably reduce their performance and regenerative capacities and can even increase infection rates.
Patients taking statins to reduce their cholesterol need to be aware that statins reduce the body's ability own ability to make coenzyme Q10. Statins work by inhibiting an enzyme necessary for cholesterol manufacture and therefore decreasing cholesterol levels. Unfortunately it is precisely this enzyme (HMG-CoA reductase) that is required for the manufacture of coenzyme Q10. Statins taken to reduce cholesterol levels can reduce production of the coenzyme by anything from 25 to 75%. Some of the side effects of statins can therefore be attributed to a lack of this coenzyme.
Asthma patients who have been treated with corticoids such as cortisone have also shown reduced levels of coenzyme Q10 in their blood, and many other illnesses are also associated with lower levels of the coenzyme. These include:
- Gum diseases such as periodontitis
- Cancer (20% of tumour patients have lowered coenzyme Q10 levels)