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The bioavailability of Coenzyme Q10 supplements available in New Zealand differs markedly with Q-Gel

An article in The New Zealand Medical Journal (October 8, 2004 Vol 117 No 1203) was entitled “The bioavailability of coenzyme Q10 supplements available in New Zealand differs markedly&rdquo..


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What is CoQ10?

Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines coenzyme Q as ubiquinone (suggesting its widespread occurrence in nature) and describes it as "a quinone that functions as an electron transfer agent between cytochromes in the Krebs cycle."

Today, in a version known as coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) or ubiquinol, this nutrient has become a popular seller and a product that is synonymous with increasing users’ cellular energy. Further, many studies have shown, it has value in combating various forms of cardiovascular disease, reducing the number and size of some tumors and treating gum disease. In fact, according to the newsletter Nutrition News, it has extended the life span of laboratory animals up to 56%. Yet, for almost 30 years, this powerful nutrient languished in the shadows, little understood and used by a scant few of the nutritional cognoscenti. Today, CoQ10 has been clinically shown to improve heart function!

In the book All About Coenzyme Q10, an entry in Avery Publishing Group’s series on Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's), author Ray Sahelian, M.D., reports that CoQ10’s discovery dates all the way to 1957. It was then that Frederick Crane, Ph.D., working at the University of Wisconsin, isolated an orange substance from the mitochondria of beef heart. The following year, says Sahelian, Karl Folkers, Ph.D., and coworkers at Merck synthesized the orange molecule in the laboratory. As one of the pioneering researchers, Folkers played a role in naming the substance CoQ10. When he was in his 80s (he now is deceased), he mused about whether it would have sold better earlier had it been called a vitamin.

Technically speaking, however, CoQ10 is not a vitamin. According to Sahelian, vitamins are nutrients that cannot be manufactured by the body, but must be ingested. CoQ-10 is manufactured by the body, but rarely in sufficient amounts to confer significant health benefits. Therefore, CoQ-10 is "vitamin-like" in that supplementation is needed.

In the mid 1970's, the Japanese perfected the industrial technology of fermentation to produce pure CoQ10 in significant quantities. To this day, virtually all CoQ10 still comes from Japan. There are two different methods of manufacture. One is via fermentation and the other is via a combination of fermentation and synthesis.

In the early 1970s, there were discoveries that people with gum disease and heart disease were deficient in CoQ10. The momentum began to build and, by the early 1980's, CoQ10 had reached a level of consumption in Japan that rivaled that country’s five top medications. In fact, all along, it has been the Japanese and the Europeans who have conducted the majority of clinical trials using CoQ10.


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