Coenzyme Q10, also known as Ubiquinone, is a vitamin-like, fat-soluble antioxidant found everywhere in the body with the highest concentrations in vital organs such as the heart and pancreas. Highest levels in the heart occur at around age 20 however by age 80 these levels have reduced to less than half. One of its major roles in the body is to help convert the food we eat into energy to power our bodies and brain. It is now believed that Coenzyme Q10 is the key nutrient for generating 95% of the total energy required by the human body. However the effects of CoQ10 do not stop at energy production.
The great bulk of clinical work with Coenzyme Q10 has focused on heart disease. More than 35 controlled clinical trials in Japan, Europe, and the U.S. have proven that CoQ10 therapy is highly effective in the treatment of congestive heart failure, angina and ischemic heart disease, and myocardial infarction. CoQ10 pioneer, Karl Folkers, found lower CoQ10 levels in patients with more severe heart disease and showed that CoQ10 supplements significantly raised blood and heart tissue levels of CoQ10 in these patients.
Statins are drugs that lower the endogenous production of cholesterol and are often touted as “life-saving” by cardiologists and the media. Due to the partially shared biosynthetic pathway of CoQ10 and cholesterol, these drugs, while blocking the production of cholesterol also block the production of CoQ10. How can drugs that lower the body’s production of CoQ10 benefit heart patients? The pharmaceutical giant Merck has known for more than 15 years that statin drugs interfere with CoQ10 biosynthesis, leading to low serum levels of CoQ10, which can cause muscles to atrophy. There was talk of adding CoQ10 to statin drugs but apparently this invention has not been implemented, probably because the world supply of CoQ10 is limited and would only supply one-sixth of the world’s statin users. It should go without saying that if you’re on statins you should definitely also be taking CoQ10 to protect you from the side effects of these so-called “life saving” drugs.
High Blood Pressure
Many clinical trials using CoQ10 in addition to traditional medical treatments have shown a blood pressure-lowering effect of CoQ10. In one study by Langsjoen et al of 109 patients with essential hypertension, 51% were able to stop between one and three antihypertensive drugs at an average of 4.4 months after starting CoQ10 treatment.
To date, various investigators have found that coenzyme Q10 may be useful as a neuroprotective agent for diseases marked by mitochondrial dysfunction. Some research has found that the level of CoQ10 is substantially lower in the mitochondria of the people with Parkinson’s Disease and that a CoQ10 deficiency can increase the risk of dopamine cell death in the substantia nigra region of the brain. One study found that the progression of Parkinson’s Disease was significantly slower in people taking the highest dose of CoQ10. Coenzyme Q10 is presently being studied as a potential treatment for early PD. Evidence that it may be helpful in late stage Parkinson’s is thus far unsubstantiated.
- In studies of stroke in three animal models (dog, rat, gerbil), CoQ10 was the only agent giving complete protection and this was over two times more often than the next best agent (naloxone) of the many tested to date.
- Another prominent benefit is in the treatment of periodontal disease. CoQ10 is reported to dramatically halt the progression of gingivitis and may heal the damage entirely.
- People who are infected with the HIV virus and who are also deficient in Coenzyme Q10 tend to avoid the opportunistic diseases associated with this disease and slow down the progression to full-blown AIDS by supplementing with CoQ10.
Who needs CoQ10?
A healthy, youthful human body can make its own CoQ10, in fact up to 500 mg daily. With the possible exception of athletes, persons taking vitamin C should not have to supplement CoQ10 until the fourth or fifth decade of life. This is because vitamin C promotes the production of CoQ10 in the body. However CoQ10 levels in heart tissue decline with age, causing the degeneration of cells, which may contribute to age-related diseases. Those with a history of heart disease especially could benefit from high-dose CoQ10 supplementation. High doses of a good quality CoQ10 can work out rather pricey, however if you weigh this against the cost of a heart transplant, it comes in cheap.
Choosing a CoQ10 supplement
When choosing a CoQ10 supplement, do not sell your health to the lowest bidder. Since it is a fat-soluble nutrient it either needs to be taken with the largest meal of the day or choose a softgel supplement in which the CoQ10 is suspended in a healthy MCT oil. Powder-based CoQ10 supplements do not contain fat and are barely able to be absorbed by our intestines.
Learn all you need to know about our See Yourself Well Coenzyme Q10 here.
Safety of CoQ10
Coenzyme Q10 has a high safety profile and don’t forget it is made by your body so should be fine for just about anyone. However those on blood thinning or blood pressure medications and pregnant or breast-feeding women need to check with their health practitioners first.