COQ10: THE STATE OF THE SCIENCE IN DIABETES
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a vital nutrient in the human body. CoQ10 is widely distributed in the human body and serves as a cofactor for the production of cellular energy in most human cells. As the name implies, a coenzyme is a factor that helps the function of an enzyme; enzymes are small proteins in the body that carry out nearly every chemical reaction. CoQ10 is made in our body and therefore for most people it is not essential to eat CoQ10 or take supplements, however CoQ10 status can become depleted because of various health conditions, medications and environmental factors.
How CoQ10 “Works”
The majority of cellular energy comes from the breakdown of glucose (sugar) or fat. Although this process occurs in several compartments inside of each cell, the final CoQ10-requiring processes occur inside of a small organelle called the mitochondria. The mitochondria is called the “powerhouse of the cell” because it rapidly moves, or shuttles, molecules which drives the production of cellular energy (a molecule called ATP). In people with diabetes, the level of glucose is greater than what each mitochondria can handle and as a result energy production inside of the cell can’t keep up with the demand, and the process stalls. Imagine a relay race where 50 runners are all trying to hand their batons to a single runner!
This phenomenon has been researched extensively by diabetes researcher Michael Brownlee. The availability of CoQ10 limits the speed at which glucose can be processed into energy by the cell. Without CoQ10, this energy gets misdirected and causes oxidation inside of the mitochondria. The oxidative reactions deplete important antioxidants contributing to the development of complications in some tissues. In this way, CoQ10 acts as an antioxidant.
This model of action and prevention of metabolic abnormalities by CoQ10 is supported by research in rare types of diabetes caused by genetic mutations in the mitochondria. In this genetic form of diabetes CoQ10 supplementation has been shown to be effective in reducing blood sugar and improving insulin secretion. While these findings do not necessarily apply to individuals without this genetic form of the disease, mitochondrial changes are present in other forms of diabetes too, as reviewed by Lamson and Plaza.
We encourage you to read the rest of this well-researched and footnoted report at the link above.