Coenzyme Q10 adjunctive treatment for diabetic retinopathy

A randomized controlled study carried out at the University of Guadalajara, Mexico, showed that daily adjunctive treatment with 400 milligrams of Coenzyme Q10 for six months significantly reduced the extent of lipid peroxidation in patients diagnosed with non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy.

Patients with diabetic retinopathy who took 400 milligrams of Coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinone form) daily had significantly reduced levels of lipid peroxidation products in their blood at the end of a six-month study, compared to baseline levels [Rodriguez-Carrizalez 2016].

Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease caused by high blood sugar levels resulting in damage to the blood vessels in the retina. The blood vessels can swell and leak, or they can close off and stop the blood from flowing.

Why is Coenzyme Q10 important?

Firstly, hyperglycemia – high blood sugar – induces the excess production of harmful free radicals and impairs the endogenous antioxidant defense system.

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The latest on Coenzyme Q10 and diabetes

My New Year’s Resolution: take care of myself and avoid type-2 diabetes.   Studies show that daily Coenzyme Q10 supplements are safe for patients with diabetes to take. That is good news because people with diabetes need the heart muscle cell protection that Coenzyme Q10 uniquely provides. Supplementation with Coenzyme Q10 slightly but significantly reduced fasting blood sugar levels and did not affect fasting insulin levels or Hb1Ac levels.

What do we hear about diabetes?  It is a silent disease.  Its symptoms are often silent until it is too late.  None of us wants to get type-2 diabetes. 

However, if it should happen, the main thing to know about Coenzyme Q10 supplementation and diabetes is that Coenzyme Q10 supplements are safe for diabetics to take.  Of course, diabetics should inform their physicians that they are planning to take a daily Coenzyme Q10 supplement of 100 or 200 milligrams, but there are research results to document that doing so is safe.

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Coenzyme Q10 and metabolic syndrome

Recent scientific studies show that daily Coenzyme Q10 supplements confer beneficial health outcomes in patients diagnosed with metabolic syndrome. Among the improvements associated with the Coenzyme Q10 supplementation are improved serum insulin levels, glucose homeostasis levels, and plasma total antioxidant capacity concentrations.

Until recently, we have not seen much research done concerning the effects of Coenzyme Q10 supplementation on metabolic syndrome.  Now, a start has been made.  The preliminary results show that Coenzyme Q10 supplementation has beneficial effects on serum insulin concentrations, glucose homeostasis parameters, and bio-markers of oxidative stress in patients diagnosed with metabolic syndrome [Raygan].

Dr. Raygan and colleagues have reported in the European Journal of Nutrition that daily supplementation with 100 milligrams of Coenzyme Q10 for eight weeks resulted in the following significantly improved health outcomes for overweight or obese patients aged 45-80 years who had been diagnosed with diabetes and coronary heart disease:

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Coenzyme Q10 for diabetes patients

diabetes-picture
Some 21 million Americans have diabetes. Diabetes increases the inflammation that is associated with hardening of the arteries (called atherosclerosis). Atherosclerosis increases the risk of heart attack or stroke and the risk of chronic heart failure. Prolonged supplementation with Coenzyme Q10 may have beneficial health effects for diabetes patients.

Twelve weeks of supplementation with Coenzyme Q10 can significantly reduce the levels of oxidative stress associated with diabetes.

Recently, Swedish researchers reported the results of a study of the effects of daily Coenzyme Q10 supplementation on type-1 and type-2 diabetes patients.  Twice a day for a period of 12 weeks, the 22 diabetes patients in the study received 100 milligrams of oral Coenzyme Q10 in the form of ubiquinone.

The patients averaged 57 years of age (type-1 diabetes patients) and 63 years of age (type-2 diabetes patients). They were predominantly male patients [Montano].

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Coenzyme Q10 and diabetes: a systematic review

Cyclist
A woman cycles to raise money for a diabetes awareness event. A recent systematic review of the research literature shows that diabetics can safely take Coenzyme Q10 supplements to achieve documented heart health benefits.

A 2016 systematic review and meta-analysis of the evidence from randomized controlled trials has shown that daily supplementation with Coenzyme Q10 slightly but significantly reduced fasting blood sugar levels.  Another good thing: Coenzyme Q10 supplementation did not significantly affect fasting insulin levels or Hb1Ac levels.

In other words, pre-diabetics and diabetics can safely take Coenzyme Q10 supplements to gain these known heart health benefits:

  • Improvement of the ATP energy production in the heart muscle cells [Mortensen]
  • Protection of the heart muscle cells against oxidative damage [Alehagen]
  • Improvement of endothelial function in the heart and blood vessels [Littarru]
  • Reduction of high blood pressure [Rosenfeldt]

Good Coenzyme Q10 news for pre-diabetics and diabetics
Yes, pre-diabetics and diabetics will want to talk with their physicians about the meta-analysis conducted by Dr. Moradi and his colleagues.  Pre-diabetics and diabetics can benefit from taking daily Coenzyme Q10 supplements in the same way that participants receiving the active Coenzyme Q10 treatment in the following studies have benefited as compared to participants in the placebo control groups:

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A review of Coenzyme Q10 research results

Pharmaceutical control
The Coenzyme Q10 supplements with the best documented results in randomized controlled trials have been manufactured under national-level pharmaceutical control.

Recently, I read a published review of the research literature about the nutritional and therapeutic supplement Coenzyme Q10.  It was very interesting to see what the research has revealed and to see what the authors of the review chose to emphasize [Potgieter].

Coenzyme Q10 supplements confer the following known health benefits:

  • improve the symptoms and survival of heart failure patients
  • provide antioxidant protection to patients taking statin medications
  • help to lower high blood pressure
  • maintain good heart function in middle-aged and elderly people
  • provide heart health benefits to people with diabetes

Normal unsupplemented levels of plasma Coenzyme Q10
First off, there is wide variation in the plasma Coenzyme Q10 concentrations of individuals who are not taking Coenzyme Q10 supplements.  There are many factors that influence any one individual’s Coenzyme Q10 status:

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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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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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