Your cells need a continuous supply of energy to maintain their membranous envelopes, to regulate the movement of fluids and electrolytes, to synthesize an astonishing array of proteins, enzymes, chemical messengers and genetic material and to divide and begin a new generation of cells. Energy is produced by mitochondria, which require support molecules such as L-carnitine and CoQ10 to deliver fuel and facilitate the production of a high-energy compound called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. Your physician can help you decide if you need additional L-carnitine and CoQ10.
Mitochondria are tiny, membrane-enclosed organelles found within your cells. According to a February 2011 review in “Biology Direct,” mitochondria were once free-living bacteria that were engulfed by larger cells, an evolutionary event that enabled the development of complex organisms. Once they were incorporated into other cells, mitochondria developed a symbiotic relationship with their hosts and became energy-production centers. L-carnitine and CoQ10 enable your mitochondria to collect raw material, convert it to energy and share it with their host cells.
Fatty acids are an important source of fuel for your cells. In his book, “Staying Healthy with Nutrition,” Dr. Elson Haas states that L-carnitine is required for transporting fatty acids into your cells and across mitochondrial membranes so they can be oxidized for energy. L-carnitine’s function as a shuttle molecule is enhanced if your mitochondria are efficiently processing fatty acids and moving them through the energy production cycle. CoQ10 helps to “clear the deck” by driving ATP production at the end of this process.
Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, is a vitamin-like compound found in virtually all your cells. It is present in particularly high concentrations within the mitochondria. As fatty acids, glucose and amino acids are churned through the mitochondrial “furnaces,” their byproducts are shunted into another pathway -- one requiring CoQ10 -- that transfers their electrical potential into the high-energy chemical bonds of ATP. ATP can then be transported out of the mitochondria to other portions of the cell where it is needed. CoQ10 also acts as an antioxidant in your cells by neutralizing toxic free radicals generated by metabolic processes.
L-carnitine and CoQ10 are essential participants in cellular energy production. While L-carnitine transfers fatty acids into your mitochondria for processing, CoQ10 works at the opposite end of the metabolic pathway to extract ATP, the chemical repository for energy within your cells. This mechanism works most efficiently when all the needed ingredients are available in abundance, so taking L-carnitine in doses of 1 to 2 grams daily, along with CoQ10 in doses of 10 to 300 mg daily, may help to improve energy flow through your cells. Ask your doctor if L-carnitine and CoQ10 could be beneficial for you.
- Biology Direct; Endosymbiont or Host: Who Drove Mitochondrial and Plastid Evolution?; J. Gross, D. Bhattacharya
- Staying Healthy with Nutrition; Elson M. Haas, M.D.