Statin medications and Coenzyme Q10

Mevalonate_Pathway
In blocking the body’s production of mevalonate, the statin medications inhibit the production of cholesterol. They also inhibit the body’s bio-synthesis of the essential bio-nutrient Coenzyme Q10, and they inhibit the body’s ability to use dietary and supplemental selenium to make the selenocysteine amino acid that is needed to make vital selenoproteins. Drs. Okuyama and Langsjoen have called for a critical re-evaluation of the guidelines for statin medication use.

There are two issues concerning the use of statin medications that relate to Coenzyme Q10.  

The more serious issue is that several animal and human studies have shown that the administration of statin medications leads to a reduction in the plasma and muscle tissue levels of Coenzyme Q10.  There is no doubt that depletion of Coenzyme Q10 is an unintended consequence of taking statin medications.  Some human trials have shown the extent of the reduction to be 40 % or greater.  Furthermore, ageing seems to play a role in the diminution of Coenzyme Q10 levels caused by the administration of statin medications [Deichmann].  Decreased plasma and heart muscle tissue levels of Coenzyme Q10 are associated with the increasing severity of heart failure [Folkers, Mortensen].

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Coenzyme Q10 improves endothelial function

woman-boxer
Good health and good fitness depend on good blood circulation.  Good blood circulation depends on good endothelial function.  Research shows that taking a daily Coenzyme Q10 supplement is associated with improved endothelial function.  Supplementation with a combination of Coenzyme Q10 and high selenium yeast has significantly reduced the risk of dying from heart disease in elderly KiSel-10 study participants.

How does Coenzyme Q10 supplementation keep the heart young and healthy? The primary explanation is that Coenzyme Q10 is absolutely vital to the cellular process of producing energy, and the heart muscle needs energy constantly.  An energy-starved heart is a failing heart.

A second and also important explanation is that oxidative damage causes the heart muscle cells to age and deteriorate. Coenzyme Q10 has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that can help to prevent the development of atherosclerosis.

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Dr. Judy speaks about Coenzyme Q10

dr-judy-in-bologna-2015
Dr. William V. Judy delivering remarks about Coenzyme Q10 absorption at the International Coenzyme Q10 Association conference in Bologna, Italy, in October, 2015.

Dr. William V. Judy earned his doctorate degree in physiology and bio-physics in 1971.  He has worked as an aerospace scientist in NASA’s manned spacecraft center and has taught in the Indiana University School of Medicine as a Professor of Physiology.  Dr. Judy has worked in basic and clinical research for 56 years now; the major focus of his research has been on the absorption, efficacy, and safety of Coenzyme Q10.  He was an early colleague of Dr. Karl Folkers, with whom he carried out joint research studies for 21 years.
 
Absorption of Coenzyme Q10 from supplements
Dr. Judy makes the following points about the absorption of Coenzyme Q10:

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Coenzyme Q10 and immune system activity

innate-immunity
The protective antioxidant function of Coenzyme Q10 in neutralizing harmful free radicals is well known. How Coenzyme Q10 modulates the immune system is less well researched. The Brauner study suggests that Coenzyme Q10 supplementation improves natural killer cell activity and reduces the extent of inflammatory processes.

What is the effect of Coenzyme Q10 supplementation on the functioning of the immune system?  We know that randomized controlled trials of Coenzyme Q10 supplementation have shown the beneficial role of Coenzyme Q10 in the prevention and adjuvant treatment of chronic heart failure and ischemic heart disease.  We know that Coenzyme Q10 supplementation has been shown to be especially important for patients on statin medications and for middle-aged and elderly healthy individuals whose bodies no longer produce as much Coenzyme Q10 as in earlier years.  What about Coenzyme Q10 supplements for patients whose immune system is weak?

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Coenzyme Q10 and energy for the immune system

woman-sneezing
The immune system protects us against bacterial and viral infections. Coenzyme Q10 is an important bio-nutrient for the optimal functioning of the immune system. It helps to provide energy for the bio-synthesis of immune system cells and energy for the activities of immune system cells.

Energy starvation in the immune system?  Immune system cells starved for energy?  There is a very plausible theory that chronic heart failure is a disease caused by the energy starvation of the heart muscle cells.  Lacking adequate Coenzyme Q10 – an indispensable component of the human cell respiration and oxidative phosphorylation process – the heart muscle cells produce less ATP than is needed to supply the cells with energy. (A concomitant theory holds that Coenzyme Q10, in its reduced form, also protects the heart muscle cells against oxidative damage.)

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Coenzyme Q10 and exercise: what do we know?

exercise-and-coq10
Coenzyme Q10 supplementation performs many roles in the body that benefit athletes and people who exercise. It is an essential co-factor in cellular energy production, it is the most important fat-soluble antioxidant preventing oxidative damage and muscle damage,, and it improves endothelial function.

Does Coenzyme Q10 supplementation improve exercise capacity?  Do we know?  In 2016, Professor Julio J. Ochoa and his colleagues at the University of Granada in Spain conducted an exhaustive review of the published literature about the Coenzyme Q10 supplementation and exercise.  The researchers did database searches and found 372 journal articles about Coenzyme Q10 and exercise.  An amazing number.

Variation in the Coenzyme Q10 and exercise studies
Of course, the results of the studies reported in the 372 journal articles varied quite a bit for a variety of reasons:

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Coenzyme Q10: the best of q10facts.com — part II

emergency-room
Daily supplementation with 200 milligrams of Coenzyme Q10 has been shown to reduce the number of hospitalizations and re-hospitalizations of chronic heart failure patients. The use of Coenzyme Q10 as an adjuvant treatment improves the quality of life for patients and reduces the expenses of health care systems.

Last month, I wrote brief summaries of some of the best articles that have been published on this website.  This month, I want to present summaries of several more good q10facts.com articles about the health benefits of Coenzyme Q10 supplementation.  The information in all of these articles is based on clinical study results published in peer-reviewed bio-medical journals.  In each summary, there is a link to the original article.

Fewer hospitalizations with Coenzyme Q10
In the Q-Symbio study, 420 chronic heart failure patients on conventional heart failure medications were randomly assigned to an adjuvant Coenzyme Q10 treatment group (n=202) or to a placebo control group (n=218).  In the study, Dr. Svend Aage Mortensen and his fellow researchers wanted to test the hypothesis that the condition of the energy-starved heart could be improved by the use of Coenzyme Q10 supplementation.

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Coenzyme Q10: The best of q10facts.com

Karl Folkers
Dr. Karl Folkers, the researcher who established the chemical structure of the Coenzyme Q10 molecule and who developed the biochemical rationale for the use of Coenzyme Q10 as an adjuvant treatment of chronic heart disease, called Coenzyme Q10 the “essential bio-nutrient.”

In this article, I look back over the past 80 q10facts.com articles and pick out my favorites.  Together, these articles give a good picture of what I have tried to present on this website: documented results from scientific studies of the absorption, safety, and efficacy of Coenzyme Q10 supplements in the form of ubiquinone.  At the present time, there simply is not the same quality or quantity of research results related to the use of Coenzyme Q10 supplements in the ubiquinol form.

Coenzyme Q10’s therapeutic value
This article summarized the clinical research evidence for the use of Coenzyme Q10 as an adjunctive therapy for the following patients:

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Coenzyme Q10’s therapeutic value

blister-pack
Human bio-synthesis of Coenzyme Q10 peaks in the early 20s and then declines with increasing age. Supplementation is necessary to provide adequate intakes of the substance for energy production and antioxidant defense. Coenzyme Q10 dissolved in vegetable oils and sealed in gelatin capsules has shown impressive health benefits in randomized controlled trials: Q-Symbio study, KiSel-10 study, and Gulf War Veterans study.

Coenzyme Q10 is a marvelously versatile natural substance.  It is essential for cellular energy production, and it is an important lipid-soluble antioxidant.  Its use as a daily supplement in conjunction with conventional medicines can give heart patients valuable health benefits.

In a 2015 review article, Professor Dr. Roland Stocker of the Medical College, University of New South Wales, in Sydney, Australia, and colleagues evaluated the potential therapeutic value of Coenzyme Q10 supplements:

  • for heart failure patients
  • for patients with high blood pressure
  • for ischemic heart disease patients
  • for cardiac surgery patients
  • for patients taking statin medications

We want to look at the evidence presented in this review article [Ayer 2015].

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Coenzyme Q10: ubiquinone or ubiquinol?

Q10 crystals
Formulation of the Coenzyme Q10 supplements is very important. How do we know which producers of Coenzyme Q10 supplements can take the raw material, pictured here, and dissolve it in lipids and seal it in capsules so that it gives good health effects?

Recently, some readers have written in asking what my problem with the ubiquinol version of Coenzyme Q10 supplements is.  Let me try to answer that question.  I don’t think that I have a problem with ubiquinol itself.  I have great respect for ubiquinol’s utility as a lipid-soluble antioxidant.  The problem that I have tried to address on q10facts.com is the misleading nature of the marketing claims and the stretching of scientific facts in many of the marketing claims for the ubiquinol products.

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