Statins and CoQ10: What you need to know

Coenzyme Q10 occurs naturally in the body and helps convert food into energy. It is found in almost every cell in the body, and it is a powerful antioxidant – thus, an effective agent for the prevention of premature aging.

As an essential component in cellular energy production, CoQ10 is especially prevalent in the heart muscle. Low tissue levels of CoQ10 have been associated with angina, congestive heart failure, cardiomyopathy, hypertension and mitral valve prolapse (failure of the valve to close properly).

Research suggests that CoQ10, along with magnesium and Vitamin E, plays a central role in cardiac health and the prevention of heart disease.

Among the vital functions of CoQ10:
• It provides energy to keep your heart pumping
• It builds energy at the cellular level to combat fatigue
• It offers a cognitive boost to provide mental clarity
• It acts as an antioxidant agent, fighting free radicals that speed aging

In recent years CoQ10 supplements have gained ground among consumers as a result of widespread reports on research into its beneficial anti-aging benefits. Even mainstream physicians have begun to recommend it to their patients, particularly those who take statin medications.

By age 30, your body’s natural levels of CoQ10 begin to decline. By the time you reach 50, the levels can be so low that the effect is to speed up the aging process. Additional loss of CoQ10 results from stress, illness or taking statin medications.

Statins, which are used to lower cholesterol levels by inhibiting the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase, are designed to treat cardiovascular disease. They are very effective in treatment of high blood cholesterol levels – a major risk factor for heart disease. However, in Western nations doctors have been prescribing it more and more for healthy patients as a preventive, leading to claims that statins are overprescribed in low-risk patients. Indeed, this class of drugs is the most widely prescribed in history – today, 1 in 3 Americans over age 50 take a statin drug.

Unfortunately, statins carry the risk of dangerous side effects including liver damage, heart muscle damage, impaired brain function, pain, inflammation and fatigue.  And statin drugs are notorious for depleting CoQ10 levels.

According to researchers at the University of Maryland, there’s evidence that CoQ10 supplementation can reduce side effects from statins by helping to bring enzyme levels back to normal. Plus, they point to evidence that CoQ10 decreases side effects from statins, including the muscle pain associated with statin treatment.

Supplementation with CoQ10 has been shown to be very safe as well as effective. According to HealthGuidance.org:

There have now been eight international symposia on the biomedical and clinical aspects of  CoQ10 (from 1976 through 1993). These eight symposia comprised over 3000 papers  presented by approximately 200 different physicians and scientists from 18 countries. The  majority of the clinical studies concerned the treatment of heart disease and were  remarkably consistent in their conclusions: that treatment with CoQ10 significantly improved  heart muscle function while producing no adverse effects or drug interactions.

Sources:
The UCSD Statin Study
University of Maryland Medical Center: CoQ10

Medscape Today: Does Coenzyme Q10 Relieve Statin-Induced Myopathy?
MSNBC: Statins may be over-prescribed, a study shows
HealthGuidance.org: Benefits of CoQ10

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