Coenzymes are required in many enzymatic and metabolic processes in your body, in plants, and in animals. One of the reasons vitamins are so integral to your health is because many coenzymes are synthesized using vitamins. Some of the more well-known coenzymes you may have heard of include coenzyme Q-10 and coenzyme A .
What Are Coenzymes?
Coenzymes, sometimes called cosubstrates, are organic nonprotein cofactors that help enzymes drive chemical reactions in the body. Not all enzymes require cofactors to perform their chemical reactions. Only certain keys will fit certain locks, the active site on apoenzymes in this metaphor. The unique fit of the active sites on apoenzymes ensures only the correct coenzymes will fit and work.
Coenzymes are small molecules that are attached to an inactive enzyme called apoenzyme.
How Coenzymes Function
The other type of cofactors, called prosthetic groups, work in much the same way as coenzymes. This is the active form of an enzyme. They can help transfer compounds between enzymes. This is often a successive process, with every enzyme reaction slightly modifying the original molecule along the enzyme pathway.
Coenzymes also help attract the correct compounds and repel incorrect compounds to the active site of their enzyme. This is an important function of coenzymes because of a phenomenon called competitive inhibition. This mechanism helps control the actions of the enzyme when it’s not needed.