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].
In line with other technologies, the production technology for Coenzyme Q10 nutritional supplements has advanced over the years. For the past 35 years, Dr. William Judy of the SIBR Research Institute has followed the development of the Coenzyme Q10 nutritional supplements produced in the USA and around the world.
Dr. Judy has seen considerable improvement in the formulations of the Coenzyme Q10 nutritional supplements and in their effectiveness as an adjuvant treatment of chronic heart failure and other clinical conditions. He has seen increasing awareness of the need for Coenzyme Q10 supplements in patients taking statin medications. He has seen increasing awareness of the health benefits for healthy middle-aged and elderly people.
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.
In this three-part series of articles, we have been discussing the absorption and bio-availability of the vital bio-nutrient Coenzyme Q10. As we come into middle age and then into our senior years, we produce less and less Coenzyme Q10 ourselves. Plus, certain medications — statin medications in particular — inhibit our bodies’ production of Coenzyme Q10 even more. And, we know that adequate intakes of Coenzyme Q10 are necessary for good heart health and a decent quality of life.
Once we have swallowed a Coenzyme Q10 capsule, what happens next? Specifically, what happens as the Coenzyme Q10 flows from the stomach to the blood? As it turns out, we know a fair amount about the transfer of the Coenzyme Q10.
The basics of Coenzyme Q10 absorption
Dr. William Judy’s study of Coenzyme Q10 absorption in large animals (large dogs that are conscious during the testing) and in humans have resulted in the following understanding:
Coenzyme Q10 is absorbed in the form of ubiquinone
Coenzyme Q10, regardless of whether it is taken in the form of ubiquinone supplements or in the form of ubiquinol supplements, will be absorbed in the small intestine in the form of ubiquinone.
Coenzyme Q10 is a vitamin-like substance that is an essential bio-nutrient. It is vital for the cellular process of ATP energy production. It is an important antioxidant protecting the cells against harmful free radicals. It is thought to improve epithelial cell function in the blood vessels and to protect against the development of atherosclerosis and high blood pressure. In this essay, we review some of the basic facts of Coenzyme Q10 absorption and bio-availability.
Importance of Coenzyme Q10 absorption Coenzyme Q10 bio-synthesis declines with age
Our bodies produce Coenzyme Q10 in much the same way that they produce cholesterol. However, once we reach our 20’s, our bio-synthesis of Coenzyme Q10 begins to decline with increasing age [Kalén]. One estimate is that the plasma Coenzyme Q10 concentration of an average 65-year-old will be only about half the plasma concentration of an average 25-year-old: approximately 0.65 micrograms per milliliter versus 1.35 micrograms per milliliter.
What about infertility problems and Coenzyme Q10, I was asked the other day. Mightn’t the improvement of cellular energy production and the protection against oxidative stress that Coenzyme Q10 supplements give, mightn’t they also help sperm quality and sperm motility? What about Coenzyme Q10 help for the quality of female egg cells?
Coenzyme Q10 and male infertility Nature Reviews: Urology
In 2011, Dr. Annette Fenner, chief editor at Nature Reviews: Urology, published a note to the effect that supplementation with Coenzyme Q10 improves semen quality parameters and that the improvement in the sperm has been seen to be associated with improved pregnancy rates and live birth rates [Fenner].
Okay, from solid research results, we know several things about the essential bio-nutrient Coenzyme Q10.
our bodies produce Coenzyme Q10, which is an essential substance for our cells’ energy production and for the antioxidant protection of our cells
once we reach our 20’s, our body’s own production of Coenzyme Q10 decreases with increasing age
statin medications inhibit our bodies’ production of Coenzyme Q10
we are very unlikely to get all the Coenzyme Q10 that we need from our food
the risk of heart disease and other diseases increases with the lesser availability of Coenzyme Q10
we need a daily Coenzyme Q10 supplement.
Coenzyme Q10 levels in tissue cell and in plasma Basic fact: Plasma Coenzyme Q10 levels will always exceed tissue cell Coenzyme Q10 levels except, possibly, in some very well-conditioned athletes, e.g. soccer players and cross-country skiers and cyclists. In some superior athletes, the tissue cell Coenzyme Q10 levels and the plasma Coenzyme Q10 levels may come close to being equal.
How does Coenzyme Q10 get from the blood to the cells?
Coenzyme Q10 molecules move from the blood into the tissue cells by the process of diffusion. If plasma Coenzyme Q10 concentrations were lower than the tissue cell Coenzyme Q10 concentrations, then the diffusion of Coenzyme Q10 from the blood into the tissue cells could not take place. There would need to be some sort of active transport of Coenzyme Q10 into the tissue cells, and we know of no active transport of Coenzyme Q10 into the tissue cells [Judy 2016].
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:
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?