Vitamin Q

Vitamin Q

Professor B.V. Ramanan

Consultant Microbiologist & Medical Content Provider



Vitamin Q, first identified in the 1940s, and isolated from the mitochondria of the beef heart, in 1957, is also known as Coenzyme Q and Ubiquinone. Vitamin Q is now grouped into the category of Coenzymes instead of Vitamins.

Coenzyme Q10 (also known as Ubiquinone-10 and CoQ10) is the most common form of this Coenzyme in human beings (Saini et al, 2011).

Coenzyme Q10 is a fat-soluble substance that has a close structural resemblance to Vitamin K and Vitamin E and invariably found in the mitochondria, the pivot of aerobic cellular respiration and energy generation mechanism of eukaryotic organisms (Okamoto et al, 1989). Interestingly, Coenzyme Q10 is found copiously in heart, kidney, and the liver that demand high cellular energy (Aberg et al, 1992).

Under normal conditions, the Coenzyme Q10 is biologically synthesized in the mitochondria of the cells by a multiprotein complex comprising of twelve proteins (Acosta et al, 2016).

Mutations in the genes coding for these proteins are one of the primary reasons for the deficiency of this coenzyme. Mutations in some associated genes such as ETFDH, APTX, FXN, and BRAF also affect the cellular biosynthesis of the coenzyme apart from the stated mitochondrial mutations, underlying health conditions, comorbidities, and ageing. CoenzymeQ10 deficiency obviously affects the aerobic cellular respiration and energy generation mechanism that is vital for a healthy living, especially, the mitochondrial electron transport chain (Shindo et al, 1994).

Dietary Sources

Deficits in CoenzymeQ10 biosynthesis can be effectively compensated by daily dietary intake of CoenzymeQ10. Beef, pork, chicken, and fish are rich sources of the coenzyme. Vegetarian sources include nuts such as peanut, walnut, sesame, pistachio, hazelnut, and almond; vegetables such as parsley, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, and Chinese cabbage; fruits such as avocado, black currant, grapes, strawberry, orange, apple, and banana. Vegetable oils such as soybean oil, olive oil, and sunflower oil are excellent sources of the coenzyme too (Pravst et al, 2010).

CoenzymeQ10 is available as an OTC dietary supplement but not approved for the treatment of any medical condition (White, 2014 and Coenzyme Q10, 2017). A daily dose is 100 to 200 milligrams is well tolerated. Gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, appetite suppression, and abdominal pain have been reported with abnormally high daily intake (Wyman et al, 2010).

Health Benefits of CoenzymeQ10

CoenzymeQ10 in Hemostasis

Hemostasis is a physiological process that stops bleeding (by a blood clot) at the site of an injury while maintaining normal blood flow elsewhere in the circulation. The blood does not clot normally during an injury for those with bleeding disorders.

Quick (1972), was the first to establish by experimental evidence, clinical assessment and therapeutic observations, the physiological role of a third Vitamin ‘’Q’’ apart from Vitamin C and K in the regulation of abnormal bleeding. He further elucidated that two systems of thrombin formation exist in this clotting mechanism, and the second requires the active participation of Vitamin Q along with tissue thromboplastin and factor VII (Quick, 1975).

Earlier studies in the 70s with CoenzymeQ10 (vitamin Q) in a cohort of patients having hereditary bleeding disorders caused by low platelet count, significantly defective prothrombin consumption time and protracted bleeding time, have established that the dietary supplementation of the coenzyme demonstrates a marked improvement in the hemostasis mechanism (Quick, 1974).

CoenzymeQ10 in Cardiovascular Health

Studies on blood and plasma vitamin Q (CoenzymeQ10) before and during an open chest surgery in a cohort of Ischemic Heart Disease patients have shown that there is a lower plasma vitamin Q levels and severe depletion of the vitamin during the surgery followed by an active compensatory liver vitamin Q release indicating its role in the cardiovascular physiology (Karlsson et al, 1997). It is suggested that the depletion is linked to molecular oxygen and free oxygen radical formation (Karlsson et al, 1996). A meta-analysis in 2017 of people with heart failure has recorded a thirty one percent reduction in mortality with 30–100 mg/d of the Vitamin (Lei et al, 2017). It is suggested that muscle Vitamin Q is not only associated with respiratory activity and oxidative energy releasing processes, but also acts as a nonspecific antioxidant (Karlsson et al, 19971 and Karlsson et al, 19972).


CoenzymeQ10 is a well-known for the treatment of muscle breakdown associated with the use of the statin class of drugs. Its efficacy in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, Lou Gehrig's disease and other diseases needs further validation.



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2.      Okamoto T, Matsuya T, Fukunaga Y, Kishi T, Yamagami T (1989). "Human serum ubiquinol-10 levels and relationship to serum lipids". International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research. Internationale Zeitschrift für Vitamin- und Ernahrungsforschung. Journal International de Vitaminologie et de Nutrition. 59 (3): 288–92. PMID 2599795.

3.       Aberg F, Appelkvist EL, Dallner G, Ernster L (June 1992). "Distribution and redox state of ubiquinones in rat and human tissues". Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics. 295 (2): 230–4. doi:10.1016/0003-9861(92)90511-T. PMID 1586151.

4.      Manuel Jesús Acosta, Luis Vazquez Fonseca, Maria Andrea Desbats, Cristina Cerqua, Roberta Zordan, Eva Trevisson, Leonardo Salviati. Coenzyme Q biosynthesis in health and disease. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Bioenergetics, Volume 1857, Issue 8, 2016, Pages 1079-1085.

5.       Shindo Y, Witt E, Han D, Epstein W, Packer L (January 1994). "Enzymic and non-enzymic antioxidants in epidermis and dermis of human skin". The Journal of Investigative Dermatology. 102 (1): 122–4.

6.      Pravst I, Zmitek K, Zmitek J (April 2010). "Coenzyme Q10 contents in foods and fortification strategies". Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 50 (4): 269–80.

7.      Weber C, Bysted A, Hllmer G (1997). "The coenzyme Q10 content of the average Danish diet". International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research. Internationale Zeitschrift für Vitamin- und Ernahrungsforschung. Journal International de Vitaminologie et de Nutrition. 67 (2): 123–9.

8.      White, J. (14 May 2014). "PDQ® Coenzyme Q10". National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. Retrieved 29 June 2014.

9.      "Mitochondrial disorders in children: Co-enzyme Q10". UK: National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. 28 March 2017.

10.  Wyman M, Leonard M, Morledge T (July 2010). "Coenzyme Q10: a therapy for hypertension and statin-induced myalgia?". Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. 77 (7): 435–42. doi:10.3949/ccjm.77a.09078.

11.  Armand J. Quick, Vitamin Q, Life Sciences, Volume 15, Issue 1, 1974, Pages 1-6.

12.  Quick AJ. The role of vitamins in hemostasis. Thromb Diath Haemorrh. 1975 Apr 30;33(2):191-8. PMID: 1138416.

13.  Quick AJ. The third hemostatic vitamin. Wisconsin Medical Journal. 1972 Jul;71(7):175-181.

14.  Karlsson J, Ronneberg R, Semb B. Vitamins Q and E, extracorporal circulation and hemolysis. Mol Cell Biochem. 1997 Aug;173(1-2):33-41. doi: 10.1023/a:1006874923181. PMID: 9278252.

15.  Karlsson J, Semb B. Heart muscle and plasma vitamin Q with heart transplantation. Can J Cardiol. 1997 Feb;13(2):147-52. PMID: 9070166.

16.  Karlsson J, Lin L, Gunnes S, Sylvén C, Aström H. Muscle ubiquinone in male effort angina patients. Mol Cell Biochem. 1996 Mar 23;156(2):173-8. doi: 10.1007/BF00426341. PMID: 9095475.

17.  Karlsson J, Lin L, Gunnes S, Sylvén C, Aström H, Jansson E, Semb B. Muscle characteristics in effort angina before and after CABG. Can J Cardiol. 1997 Jun;13(6):577-82. PMID: 9215230.

18.  Karlsson J, Lin L, Sylvén C, Jansson E. Muscle ubiquinone in healthy physically active males. Mol Cell Biochem. 1996 Mar 23;156(2):169-72. doi: 10.1007/BF00426340. PMID: 9095474.

19.  Lei L, Liu Y (July 2017). "Efficacy of coenzyme Q10 in patients with cardiac failure: a meta-analysis of clinical trials". BMC Cardiovascular Disorders. 17 (1): 196. doi:10.1186/s12872-017-0628-9. PMC 5525208

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