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“CoQ10 can slash deaths among people suffering from heart failure in half!” That is certainly a bold statement, but just the latest of many research findings proving CoQ10’s (coenzyme Q10) powerful influence on cardiovascular health. The vitamin-like nutrient is also being studied as a potential treatment for cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other types of neurodegenerative and neuromuscular disorders.[i][ii][iii][iv][v][vi]
So what about that study? The double blind, placebo-controlled studyfollowed 420 patients with severe heart failure in nine countries. The patients were randomized to either daily CoQ10 or placebo and followed for two years. The patients taking CoQ10experienced half the risk of a major cardiovascular event, including hospitalization, urgent transplant surgery, and cardiovascular death compared to the placebo group.[vii]
While this is the first controlled trial to investigate CoQ10’s effect on survival in heart failure, it is only one of a number of clinical studies showing the nutrient’s powerful effect on cardiovascular health. Cardiologists in Japan have been using CoQ10 to treat congestive heart failure since the mid-seventies[viii] and according to American cardiologist Stephen Sinatra, CoQ10 is “essential for the healthy heart and critical for the failing one.”[ix]
CoQ10 (also called ubiquinone or ubiquinol) is a vitamin-like, fat-soluble compound that is found in nearly every tissue in the body, but is concentrated in organs with high-energy requirements like the heart, skeletal muscles, and the brain.[x] It is necessary for energy production, working in every cell of the body to produce ATP, the chemical form of energy in the body. Its other important role in the body is that of antioxidant, protecting fats, proteins, and DNA from oxidative damage.
Every cell in the body contains mitochondria, energy factories where food is converted into ATP. CoQ10 is involved in a chain of biochemical reactions in the mitochondria that creates ATP—its presence is absolutely essential for energy production. CoQ10 is found in almost all tissues in the body, but there is an especially high concentration in the heart muscle. The heart uses so much energy that it is especially sensitive to a CoQ10 deficiency. In fact, congestive heart failure results from a major loss of energy in the heart, which is why CoQ10 therapy can be so beneficial.
A depletion of CoQ10—from statin therapy, a disease state, or natural diminishment with age—can lead to mitochondrial dysfunction, significantly decreasing energy production in the heart. Cardiomyopathy and heart failure are chronic diseases that are characterized by a critical loss of energy in the heart and weakening of the heart muscle, interfering with its ability to pump blood. Doctors have found that patients suffering from congestive heart failure have low levels of CoQ10, and in fact, the level of deficiency correlates with the severity of heart failure. A considerable number of studies conducted since the mid-2000s have found significant improvement in heart muscle function among heart failure patients treated with CoQ10.[xi]
Second to its role in energy production, CoQ10 (in its “reduced” form ubiquinol) also functions as a potent fat-soluble antioxidant. Of particular interest is CoQ10’s ability to protect LDL and pattern B LDL, currently regarded as the most accurate predictor of cardiovascular risk, from oxidation.[xii][xiii][xiv] CoQ10 also has the ability to regenerate the antioxidant vitamins C and E.[xv] (Interestingly, vitamin E also seems to play a key role in helping the body to absorb and retain supplemental CoQ10—just another reminder that nutrients rarely work alone.)[xvi]
Oxidative damage and mitochondrial dysfunction underlie cardiovascular disease, and also many neurodegenerative conditions, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’sdiseases. CoQ10 acts as a powerful antioxidant and supports healthy mitochondrial function.
Ironically, the statin drugs that are so commonly prescribed to inhibit cholesterol production (in the name of heart health) also inhibit the body’s production of CoQ10. Cholesterol and CoQ10 share the same biosynthetic pathway, so as the statin drug blocks cholesterol production, it also blocks production of CoQ10[xvii]—statins have been shown to reduce blood levels of CoQ10 up to 54 percent.[xviii] Statins’ common side effects of fatigue, muscle pain, and muscle weakness all point to a CoQ10 deficiency. If you are currently taking a statin drug, it is especially important to also take CoQ10.
Anyone taking a statin should take CoQ10. If you are 30 or older you should take CoQ10 because the body’s natural production begins to slow around the age of 30.Lower levels of the important antioxidant can lead to reduced energy production and antioxidant protection. If you are living in a disease state, or experience chronic fatigue, you should consider taking CoQ10. The body requires at least eight vitamins, including vitamin C and several B vitamins, and several trace minerals to produce CoQ10—an insufficiency of any these nutrients can lead to reduced production of CoQ10.[xix] In short, most adults can benefit from regularly taking CoQ10.
If you are in good health and over the age of 30, consider taking 50-75 mg of CoQ10 daily; if you are over the age of 40, consider 100-200 mg daily; nutritionally-oriented doctors often prescribe 300 mg up to 1,200 mg daily for the treatment of heart failure and other diseases. Work with your healthcare practitioner if you are dealing with a serious illness and want to include CoQ10 in your treatment plan.
In a young, healthy body ubiquinone is converted to ubiquinol, the “reduced” or biologically active form. It is the ubiquinol form that acts as an antioxidant, protecting fats, proteins, and DNA from oxidative damage. After the age of 30, the body has a harder time efficiently making this conversion. Chronic disease, genetic factors, and excessive oxidative stress can also decrease the conversion. Ubiquinol supplements may be beneficial in any of these situations or in those who need large amounts of CoQ10.
[i]Muroyama A. An alternative medical approach for the neuroprotective therapy to slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease.YakugakuZasshi. 2013;133(8):849-56.
[ii]Salama M, Yuan TF, Machado S, et al. Co-enzyme Q10 to treat neurological disorders: basic mechanisms, clinical outcomes, and future research direction. CNS NeurolDisord Drug Targets. 2013 Aug;12(5):641-64.
[iii] Mancuso M, Orsucci D, Voli L, Calsolaro V, Siciliano G. Coenzyme Q10 in neuromuscular and neurodegenerative disorders. Curr Drug Targets. 2010 Jan;11(1):111-21
[iv] Choi H, Park HH, Koh SH, et al. Coenzyme Q10 protects against amyloid beta-induced neuronal cell death by inhibiting oxidative stress and activating the P13K pathway. Neurotoxicology. 2012 Jan;33(1):85-90.
[v] Dumont M, Kipiani K, Yu F, et al. Coenzyme Q10 decreases amyloid pathology and improves behavior in a transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. J Alzheimers Dis. 2011;27(1):211-23.
[vii] SA Mortensen, A Kumar, P Dolliner, et al. The effect of coenzyme Q10 on morbidity and mortality in chronic heart failure. Results from the Q-SYMBIO study. Presented at Heart Failure Congress 2013 Final Programme Number 440. (http://www.escardio.org/about/press/press-releases/pr-13/Pages/first-drug-in-decade-improves-heart-failure-mortality.aspx)
[ix] Sinatra, Stephen MD. The Sinatra Solution Metabolic Cardiology.Basic Health Publications, Inc. 2008. Pg. 73
[x] Stocker R PhD. Possible Health Benefits of Coenzyme Q10. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/f-w02/coenzymeq10.html
[xi]Langsjoen, P MD. “Alleviating Congestive Heart Failure with Coenzyme Q10.”Life Extension Magazine, Feb 2008
[xii]Schmelzer C, Niklowitz P, et al. Ubiquinol-induced gene expression signatures are translated into altered parameters of erythropoiesis and reduced low density lipoprotein cholesterol levels in humans. IUBMB Life, 2011;63:42-48. Retrieved from The Nutrition Reporter, 2011:Vol 22, No 11
[xiii]Wissam H Ibrahim, Hemmi N Bhagavan, et al. Dietary Coenzyme Q10 and Vitamin E Alter the Status of these Compounds in Rat Tissues and Mitochondria. J. Nutr, 2000;130:2343-2348. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/130/9/2343.long
[xv] Barry, Robert PhD. The Power of Ubiquinol.Health Point Press, 2010. Pgs. 15-18
[xvi]Wissam H Ibrahim, Hemmi N Bhagavan, et al. Dietary Coenzyme Q10 and Vitamin E Alter the Status of these Compounds in Rat Tissues and Mitochondria. J. Nutr, 2000;130:2343-2348. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/130/9/2343.long
[xvii] Barry, Robert PhD. The Power of Ubiquinol.Health Point Press, 2010. Pg. 11
[xviii]Vandenberg, B.F.; Robinson, J. Management of the patient with statin intolerance.Curr.Atheroscler. Rep. 2010, 12, 48–57.
[xix] Barry, Robert PhD. The Power of Ubiquinol.Health Point Press, 2010. Pg. 13
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