The human body conducts thousands of chemical reactions at any given time. Digestion, muscle contraction, and other simple bodily processes all have a chemical basis. In fact, all life can be thought of as a series of coordinated and organized chemical reactions.
Cells help to coordinate many of these reactions, but the true MVP within the body for chemical reactions are enzymes.
Enzymes are complex protein structures that help to facilitate chemical reactions. If the chemical reactions were left of their own accord, some could take 100 years to occur. Enzymes effectively reduce the time needed for reactions to take place by reducing activation energy.
While enzymes are the MVP, they also require a slew of other molecules to help support them. Namely, coenzymes act as the sidekick to every enzyme superhero. Coenzymes act to support enzymes and improve their ability to catalyze a reaction and function as intended. The actions of coenzyme assistance can vary, but they all aid enzymes in some capacity.
Below is a closer look at coenzymes and what role they play in your overall health. Having a deeper level of understanding of enzymes can help you understand ways that you can support your body at a cellular level to be more efficient and yield a higher level of wellness.
Enzymes and chemical reactions
Chemical reactions are a process by which molecules are chemically changed into something new. Chemical reactions come in a number of different flavors. Some chemical reactions produce energy and some require energy to occur. Similarly, some chemical reactions will occur spontaneously while others will not occur spontaneously without intervention.
The basis for most chemical reactions is to think of the reactants in terms of fast-moving puzzle pieces suspended in a liquid.
For a chemical reaction to occur, the puzzle pieces need to collide with one another in the correct orientation and with enough energy to connect with one another and form a different product than what it started as.
The variables of orientation and energy are the contributing factors as to how fast a chemical reaction occurs. For some reactions, it can be incredibly difficult for the correct orientation of collision to occur while for others the component of energy is what leads to longer reaction times. This is where enzymes come into play.
Enzymes within the analogy above act as a shortcut by assisting the molecules in achieving the correct orientation. Enzymes selectively will bind to the necessary reactants and will perfectly align them to where less energy is required for the reaction to take place and the orientation for a reaction is easier to achieve.
Where do coenzymes come into play?
Coenzymes are a molecule that aid in the way that enzymes function. Coenzymes are organic molecules that attach to the enzymes that contribute to their ability to help facilitate chemical reactions. Cofactors can help to attract reactants, contribute to a necessary change in enzyme structure, provide a source of energy, and much more.
Enzymes, as stated before, are specific proteins that carry out a specific chemical function. Enzymes can help to join, separate, degrade or build molecules. Depending on the nature of the reaction, enzymes may need assistance from other organic molecules to supply energy or other necessary components needed to get the desired reaction to occur.
Coenzyme vs. cofactor
If you remember part of your high school biology, you may recall the term “cofactor.” While a cofactor sounds similar to a coenzyme and the terms are sometimes mistakenly utilized interchangeably, it is important to acknowledge they are two different entities.
Coenzymes represent the organic molecules that help contribute to the enzymatic function. Organic molecules typically contain carbon chains or rings and are created within organic systems.
Non-organic molecules typically consist of minerals and single atoms that do not contain carbon. Examples of cofactors include magnesium, iron, zinc, cobalt, and manganese. These represent the minerals that are important within our body since they are utilized as cofactors in many enzymes. The minerals are integrated into the protein structure of enzymes and function to help attract substrates, orient them, and even help to catalyze a specific reaction.
Important coenzymes within the body
While it is good to understand the importance of enzymatic health and the need for cofactors, it can be difficult to understand what you can do to help.
Below is a closer look at some of the most important cofactors within the body. Understanding how the cofactors contribute to your health, as well as ways you can help, can ensure you are doing everything you can to support your health at a chemical level.
One of the most crucial coenzymes within the body is adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is the energy currency within the cell. When a reaction is nonspontaneous under physiological conditions of the cell, ATP is utilized as a source of energy to drive the reaction.
ATP is the coenzyme to a large number of enzymatic reactions within the body. Nerve impulses, muscle movement, and even basic cellular functioning like DNA replication all require the ATP coenzyme to occur.
In this way, ATP is the source of cellular energy for many vital chemical reactions.
Another important coenzyme within the body is coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). CoQ10 is a coenzyme that is found within the ATP factories of the cell known as the mitochondria. CoQ10 acts as a coenzyme by transporting electrons to the enzymes embedded in the mitochondria.
CoQ10 is an excellent coenzyme, but it also serves as an antioxidant to the mitochondrial membrane. The antioxidant capacity of CoQ10 helps to protect the mitochondrial membrane against reactive oxygen species that can steal electrons from the membrane's delicate structure. When CoQ10 levels decline, reactive oxygen species are able to cause damage to the membrane and reduce the efficiency of ATP production.
One silver lining of CoQ10 level decline is that there is at least something that can be done about it. MitoQ is a dietary supplement that you can take to help rejuvenate mitochondria impacted by low CoQ10 levels.
MitoQ, also known as mitoquinol mesylate, is a modified form of CoQ10 that is more readily taken up by the body. The mitoquinol mesylate molecule is absorbed and transported to the mitochondria where it accumulates and helps to support antioxidant balance.
With a supported mitochondrial membrane, the mitochondria are able to produce ATP at the highest level of efficiency and help facilitate the many reactions that require ATP.
In summary, coenzymes are an important organic molecule that helps to support enzymes and enzyme-catalyzed reactions. With thousands of different enzymes in the human body, it is important to ensure coenzymes are in place and able to assist wherever needed.
Both ATP and CoQ10 are important coenzymes within the body and without them, many reactions would simply come to a halt. Supporting your mitochondria through the use of MitoQ is an excellent way to ensure your body has the ATP fuel it needs to conduct chemical reactions and support the enzymes within your body.