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Coenzymes Offer Anti-Aging Possibilities (January 5, 2005)

Products with coenzymes
Until recently not many people outside the scientific community had heard the word coenzyme before, but now it is suddenly on everyone's lips. Used as anti-aging ingredients in various health and beauty products, coenzymes - and one in particular, known as Coenzyme Q10 - are fueling brisk sales of products from health foods to cosmetics.

Energy-Producing Substances
Japan is abuzz over one coenzyme in particular, Coenzyme Q10. It is an antioxidant, meaning a substance that prevents the oxidation of lipids in the body. An auxiliary enzyme produced naturally by the human body, Coenzyme Q10 is present in large quantities in the heart, kidneys, and liver. By enhancing organ function, it produces energy for the body. We get Coenzyme Q10 from two sources: from within the body, where it is synthesized, and from food. The concentration of Q10 in a person's body peaks in their twenties and then declines with age. It drops to 70% of the peak level by the time the person is in their forties and to half the peak level by their eighties.

Dietary imbalance and stress also reduce the concentration of Coenzyme Q10 in the body. By using health foods and other products to compensate for declines in the level of this beneficial substance, a person can expect to see such benefits as tiring less easily and even regaining signs of youth. Coenzyme 10 has been available to the general public in Japan since 2001, when it was approved for use as a supplement. In addition to soft-gel capsules - the original form in which Coenzyme Q10 was sold - beverages and tablet-type candies featuring the coenzyme are now also being developed.

Coenzyme Q10 is often touted in the media as an anti-aging ingredient. After it was mentioned on a TV program in September 2004, its popularity exploded. About 150 tons of Coenzyme Q10 was produced in 2003, but over the next three years production volume is forecast to double to 300 tons. Anything containing Q10 sells out the minute it hits the shelves, and because of the difficulty of ensuring a steady supply of the raw ingredients, some manufacturers have even stopped selling Q10 products.

In October 2004, Coenzyme Q10 was approved for use in cosmetics as well as foods. Shiseido Co., Kao Corporation, and other leading cosmetic makers have responded by introducing a slew of skin-care products featuring the coenzyme. Consumers are eagerly snapping up lotions and other skin-care items claiming to offer anti-aging benefits.

Japan Dominates the Coenzyme Market
Coenzyme Q10 was first developed and produced in Japan as a medical product for treating heart failure. However, the substance first came into widespread use not in Japan but in the United States and Europe, where it has been used as an ingredient in foods and cosmetics since the 1990s. The Coenzyme Q10 boom has come to Japanese shores late in the game. But when it comes to coenzyme production, Japanese manufacturers have a virtual monopoly. And they have made an array of innovations that have helped popularize Coenzyme Q10. For example, although the coenzyme in its usual form is soluble only in fat, Japanese companies have developed a water-soluble form, making it easy to digest even on an empty stomach and easy to use as an additive in various food products.

The Coenzyme Q10 craze shows no signs of letting up, and in an effort to ensure that quality standards are maintained, the Japanese Coenzyme Q Association is looking into instituting a quality certification system.

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Copyright (c) 2005 Web Japan. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.

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