CoQ10: Everything You Need to Know
Topics Covered in this Exclusive Special Report:
- CoQ10 Background and Overview
- How CoQ10 Helps Your Heart
- Why Statin Drugs Deplete CoQ10
- How CoQ10 Energizes Your Brain
- CoQ10’s Potential Against Alzheimer’s
- How CoQ10 Reduces Migraine Symptoms
- CoQ10’s Potential as a Cancer Fighter?
- Side Effects and Precautions
- Conclusions and Dosages
CoEnzyme Q10 Supports Your Body’s Energy Supply
Every day, researchers learn more about how the cells in our bodies produce the energy that keeps us alive. As part of this research, they are discovering conditions that interfere with cellular energy production, and the illnesses that can result. They are also putting new focus on natural substances that can help restore normal energy production and prevent the oxidative damage that comes from incomplete energy metabolism. One of the natural substances researchers are studying is Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10).
CoQ10 is a potent antioxidant and energy booster, first identified in 1957 and widely used in Japan for the treatment of cardiovascular disease. It is a powerful, fat-soluble vitamin-like substance synthesized in the membranes of cells. It is found mostly in mitochondria, the cell’s “power plant.” CoQ10 is an essential part of the energy-producing process known as the electron transport chain. It acts as kind of a spark plug, assisting in the generation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) the body’s basic energy currency. Without adequate CoQ10, cells cannot make the energy they need to sustain life. Eventually, your whole body suffers the malaise of low-energy production.
Because it is in every cell, supplemental CoQ10 has a wide potential of uses–from helping a failing heart work better to slowing the decline of Parkinson’s disease. Research indicates it can reduce the severity of migraine headaches, improve blood sugar control in diabetics, even help stop the spread of cancer and improve immune function in AIDS.
After the age of 30, natural levels of CoQ10 begin to diminish. By the age of 80, your CoQ10 levels may be lower than they were at birth. Further loss may come from stress, illness and some medications such as cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, oral hypoglycemic drugs such as glyburide, phenformin and tolazamide, and beta-blockers.
Main-line medical practitioners may say it is premature to recommend CoQ10 to their patients. (One has even advised against it saying if too many people are taking it, he won’t be able to find people to enroll as a control group in his next study on Parkinson’s disease!) Many alternative practitioners, however, believe that, given CoQ10’s potential for protection and its good safety record, most older people would be wise to take CoQ10 supplements. Here’s what you need to know.
CoQ10 Helps Your Heart
CoQ10 is most highly concentrated in heart muscles because of high energy needs there. Most heart patients are deficient in CoQ10 and supplementing with CoQ10 has dramatically revitalized heart function and relieved heart disease symptoms in some studies. Research suggests CoQ10 may be beneficial for almost any condition related to the heart, including angina, arrhythmia, congestive heart failure, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and cardiotoxicity associated with some cancer chemotherapy drugs.
CoQ10 works two ways in the heart. It protects cells from oxidative damage that can occur when blood supply is cut off, and then restarted, as might happen with injury such as a stroke or heart attack, or with surgery. It also can correct or preserve a cell’s ability to generate energy.
In one study, patients undergoing elective cardiac surgery were given either CoQ10 (300 mg/day) or blank look-alike pills for 2 weeks prior to surgery. Those receiving CoQ10 recovered more quickly from the stress of surgery. Their hearts regained pumping strength faster than those not getting the supplement.
In another study, people who required CPR because their hearts had stopped were more likely to be alive 3 months later if they received CoQ10 (by injection, 250 mg initially and then, 150 mg three times a day for 5 days) along with hypothermia treatment than if they received hypothermia treatment alone. (Damian, MS, et al. Coenzyme Q10 combined with mild hypothermia after cardiac arrest. Circulation 2004; 110:3011-3016.)
CoQ10 can be extremely helpful in the case of congestive heart failure, research shows. In one study, people with congestive heart failure who took CoQ10 (100 mg three times a day) had significant improvement in shortness of breath, and were less likely to have fluid retention, enlarged liver, insomnia or fatigue. The most significant improvement was in exercise tolerance. During a 6-minute walk test, people treated with CoQ10 improved their walking performance by over 40%, while walking performance decreased by about 40% in a placebo group. The CoQ10 group walked an average of 1,253 feet, while the placebo group averaged only 580 feet. (Mortensen, SA Symptomatic effects of Coenzyme Q10 in heart failure: Q-SYMBIO study status. Presented at the 4th conference of the International CoQ10 Association; 2005. pp. 57-58. http://www.coenzymeq10.org)
CoQ10 works best when it is used along with other heart drugs. If your doctor contends it is premature to recommend its use, ask him or her to read up on some of the new research proving its usefulness. CoQ10 has been government-approved in Japan as a heart treatment since 1974, where research shows that 70% of heart patients improve after taking CoQ10. The supplement is also used extensively in Italy and other parts of Europe.
Statin Drugs Deplete CoQ10
Given CoQ10’s essential role in heart health, it’s alarming to realize that the most widely-prescribed cholesterol-lowering drugs, statins (HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors) can create a deficiency of CoQ10. It’s a well-known fact that these drugs hinder your body’s ability to make its own CoQ10. One study, at New York City’s Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, found that blood levels of coenzyme Q10 plunged more than 50% in patients who took 80 milligrams of Lipitor daily for a month. Researchers warned that such a marked drop in blood CoQ10 caused by “even a brief exposure to Lipitor… could explain the most commonly reported adverse effects of statins, especially exercise intolerance, myalgia (muscle pain) and myoglobinuria (changes leading to muscle damage).” (Rundek T, Arch Neurol 2004 Jun; 61(6): 889-92)
In another study, 18 of 21 patients with muscle pain and weakness who were taking statin therapy had a significant decrease in pain after 30 days of supplementation with 100 mg a day of CoQ10 compared to people taking vitamin E. (Kelley, P. J Am Coll Cardiol 2005: 45:3A)
CoQ10 Helps Your Brain
CoQ10 can energize brain cells, research shows. The brain is especially compromised by a deficit of CoQ10. Reduced levels of CoQ10 (and ATP) can cause aging brains to become more sluggish. Memory and abilities decline and the brain may become more vulnerable to age-related neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s disease. Feeding old animals CoQ10 restores brain cell levels to those of much younger animals, rejuvenating brain functions and even reversing brain degeneration, studies show.
Take Parkinson’s disease. It’s a progressive neurological condition characterized by tremors, muscle rigidity and slowdown in motor ability. Although several drugs are used to treat and control its symptoms, none has been shown to slow the progression of the underlying disease. It appears that CoQ10 can do just that. Previous studies have found low levels of CoQ10 and a high degree of dysfunction in the mitochondria of Parkinson’s patients’ brain cells. Correcting the low CoQ10 apparently energizes brain cells, slowing down the disease. Other research shows that boosting levels of CoQ10 also preserves brain tissue, lessening brain cell death.
In one study, researchers at the University of California, San Diego, gave high doses of CoQ10 to 80 patients recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s. The investigators, headed by Clifford W. Shults, M.D., tested three different doses of CoQ10 daily: 300 mg, 600mg or 1200 mg for four months. The amazing result: all of the patients getting any dose of CoQ10 showed less severe symptoms than those taking a placebo. In short, the CoQ10 slowed the progression of early Parkinson’s symptoms.
However, the greatest slow-down came for those taking 1,200 mg of CoQ10 daily. They experienced a 44% slower rate of deterioration. Most noticeable, the CoQ10 takers had better mental acuity, motor abilities and were better able to handle daily living activities–eating, dressing, bathing and walking– than those not getting CoQ10. Even those taking only 300 mg CoQ10 daily had a reduced progression in symptoms of 27% compared with placebo. (Schultz, CW et al. Pilot trial of high dosages of coenzyme Q10 in patients with Parkinson’s disease. Exp Neurol 2004; 1288: 491-494.)
CoQ10’s Potential Against Alzheimer’s
CoQ10 is recommended by alternative practitioners to improve brain functioning in people with Alzheimer’s disease, and with good reason. The condition is associated with mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative damage. So far, though, the only studies done in humans to prove CoQ10’s worth in treating Alzheimer’s disease have included a number of neuroprotective substances, so it is impossible to single out CoQ10’s role.
However, an animal study done by researchers at Johns Hopkins University suggests that CoQ10 alone can block brain damage. The study included animals with induced Alzheimer’s-like brain damage. Animals fed daily CoQ10 showed normal brain structure and no loss of memory or intellectual functioning. In contrast, animals not fed CoQ10 suffered severe neurological dysfunction with a drop in memory and learning capacity. The CoQ10 worked by stimulating energy production in brain cells and inhibiting free radical attacks on neurons, researchers explained. (Ishrat T., Behav Brain Res 2006 Apr 16,Epub)
CoQ10 Reduces Migraine Symptoms
New research from Switzerland showed that daily CoQ10 supplements reduce the frequency of migraine headaches. This was a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. It tested CoQ10 versus placebo in 42 migraine sufferers ages 18-65. The people received a placebo for one-month, then were randomly assigned to receive either CoQ10 (100 mg a day) or placebo 3 times a day. They were also asked to keep a migraine diary that showed the number of headaches, severity, and other symptoms.
At the end of four months, symptoms in both groups were compared. Only the people taking CoQ10 had a continuous decrease in attack frequency between month 1 and month 4. They also had a decrease in nausea and vomiting. CoQ10 had no side effects, which could make it especially useful for children and women of child-bearing age, since current migraine drugs have potentially harmful side effects. (Sandor, PS et al. Neurology 2005: 64; 713-715.)
CoQ10 as a Potential Cancer Fighter
Not much research has been done on CoQ10’s anti-cancer potential, but one study has intriguing implications. In it, 84 breast cancer patients were randomized to receive a daily supplement of 100 mg of CoQ10, 10 mg of riboflavin and 50 mg of niacin per day along with 10 mg of tamoxifen twice a day. Another group got just the tamoxifen. After 90 days, the group taking the CoQ10-vitamin combo had significantly lower levels of two important tumor markers (which are elevated with impending relapse and metastases) compared to the group taking only tamoxifen. Researchers say the supplement increases the expression of a cancer-suppressing gene, MnSOD, restores lipid peroxidation levels and enzyme activity to near normal, and helps to reduce cancer cachexia, the wasting of body tissues that often comes with advanced cancer. Certainly more research is warranted for this simple supplement. (Premkumar, VG et al. Biol Pharm Bull 2007; 30(2):367-370.)
CoQ10 is considered extraordinarily safe, with reports of only mild gastrointestinal upset in less than one percent of users. Taking smaller doses two or three times a day may lessen the discomfort. CoQ10 may decrease blood pressure and blood sugar levels, so people taking medications for those conditions may need dosages adjusted. Some research suggests CoQ10 might lower the anticoagulant effects of the blood thinner coumadin in some people. Monitoring the blood to determine if the coumadin dose needs adjustment is advisable. Pregnant and lactating women are advised to not to take CoQ10 due to insufficient evidence of safety for the fetus.
How Much Do You Need?
While there is no established ideal dose for CoQ10, studies have used doses of CoQ10 ranging from 30 mg to 1,200 mg. We recommend doses ranging from 30 mg to 600 mg daily for adults. The general guideline is 1 mg per pound of body weight. So if you weigh 150 lbs., you should take 150 mg. But this is a general guideline. Most people take 100 to 200 mg daily.
- Daily dosages of 30 to 200 mg of CoQ10 are commonly recommended for healthy adults.
- Those with heart failure or angina are often advised to take 100 to 200 mg of CoQ10 daily, and even 600 mg per day in severe cases of heart failure.
- People taking statins (such as Lipitor and Zocor) to lower cholesterol are advised to take 200-600 mg a day to help prevent muscle-weakening side effects of the drugs.
- Some cancer patients have been given 400 mg of CoQ10 along with chemotherapy agents to reduce toxic side effects of these drugs.
- Taking 100 mg of CoQ10 three times a day has reduced migraine attacks by one-third.
- Taking 60 mg twice a day has lowered systolic high blood pressure by one-fourth. Using 100 mg of CoQ10 twice a day has also increased effective of blood pressure medications.
Note: Since CoQ10 is a fat-soluble nutrient, for best absorption take just before or after a meal that contains some form of healthy fat content. Alternatively, you can take it with a bit of healthy fat such as peanut butter or olive oil.
You Should Definitely Consider Taking CoQ10
CoQ10 is definitely worth trying to sharpen your brain, strengthen your heart, or simply give you more overall energy. It is extremely safe, thoroughly researched and widely-prescribed by doctors and health experts worldwide. It definitely deserves a place in any anti-aging supplement regime.
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Article updated on: August 1st, 2007