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As soon as we hear about a substance that can be good for our body, we automatically associate it as a vitamin. However, there are other substances, such as coenzyme Q10, which are essential for various functions of the human body and are not classified as a vitamin. In the case of coenzyme Q10, it is an organic molecule that facilitates the action of certain enzymes. Did you get stuck there? Okay, let’s understand better as we read.

Coenzyme Q10 is NOT a vitamin

It all started back in 1957, when Fredrick Crane and his team discovered coenzyme Q10 in the mitochondria of beef hearts. Also known as ubiquinone, studies have revealed that Q10 is a substance similar to a vitamin that can be obtained through food intake or produced by our own body cells.  Coenzyme Q10 can be observed in higher concentrations in the tissues of the heart, liver, brain and skeletal muscle.

Remember that at the beginning we said that it is an organic molecule that facilitates the action of enzymes? One explanation for this is the reason that coenzyme Q10 is located in the inner membrane of mitochondria, where, in fact, it interacts with specific enzymes, acting as an essential coenzyme in the mitochondrial respiratory chain.

Despite not being a vitamin, it has points in common with this type of nutrient. Both one and the other are needed if the amounts are insufficient in the body, but good levels provide benefits for health as a whole. A divergent factor between these two substances is that there is no reference value for the recommended daily intake of coenzyme Q10, unlike the vitamins we know.

What are the benefits of coenzyme Q10?

One of the main reasons for the popularity of coenzyme Q10 is its antioxidant action, mainly related to the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and the negative effects of aging. Being a great ally in combating oxidative stress, caused by free radicals, recent studies have even demonstrated the relevance of CoQ10 in DNA resistance to oxidative damage.

As it is abundantly distributed throughout the body, its antioxidant function can be highly effective, in addition to having the ability to be reduced or reactivated when necessary. Furthermore, another ace up this molecule’s sleeve is its importance in the treatment of mitochondrial and neuromuscular disorders and neurodegenerative diseases.

The production of ATP is also one of the highlights in the curriculum of coenzyme Q10. It is a key component in the electron transport chain, generating energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), essential for producing energy for muscle contraction and other vital cellular functions. As the activities of all cells depend on energy, Q10 is essential for the health of all organs and tissues.

Where can I find coenzyme Q10?

It is possible to obtain coenzyme Q10 from the diet; it is found in small amounts in eggs, cereals, dairy products and dried fruits such as nuts and vegetables (mainly spinach and broccoli). The foods richest in coenzyme Q10 are red meat, fish (mackerel and sardines) and poultry.

The only issue regarding the dietary route is that the dose of coenzyme Q10 that we can obtain through food intake, around 2 to 5 mg per day, is never enough to meet the body’s needs.  Therefore, some are looking for an alternative in supplementation, which takes us to the next topic.

Should I supplement coenzyme Q10?

Science shows that coenzyme supplementation has positive effects both for treating diseases and preventing others, such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, as well as age-related cognitive declines, such as Parkinson’s disease.

Healthy people who use Q10 supplements have experienced an increase in cerebral blood flow response, help in reducing physical and mental fatigue, improved speed and accuracy of cognitive function during tasks and reduced stress. Furthermore, even mental health can be influenced, due to the effect of reducing symptoms caused by depression and bipolar disorder.

Despite the benefits of supplementation, it is essential to be monitored by a qualified health professional. In general, coenzyme Q10 is well tolerated, but for some groups of people it is contraindicated, such as in patients with kidney and liver disease and those taking chemotherapy.

Returning to the question that made you read this entire content, we reaffirm that no, coenzyme Q10 is not a vitamin, but rather an organic molecule that facilitates the action of certain enzymes.

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