Coenzyme Q10 has become the third most purchased specialty nutritional supplement according to a recent survey. The number of daily users of Coenzyme Q10 in the United States has risen from some 3 million people in the year 2000 to over 16 million people at present [Sinatra 2018].
There are good reasons for this increase, which the American cardiologist Dr. Stephen Sinatra has explained in a recent electronic book published by the WholeFoods Magazine [Sinatra 2018]. I want to summarize Dr. Sinatra’s reasoning for my readers.
Heart failure patients treated with daily Coenzyme Q10 supplements in addition to their conventional heart failure medications have significantly lower death rates and significantly improved exercise capacity compared with heart failure patients treated with conventional medications alone [Lei].
This is the conclusion of the 2017 meta-analysis of relevant randomized controlled trials reported by Li Lei and Yan Liu in the BMC Cardiovascular Disorders journal. The two cardiologists analyzed the results from 14 randomized controlled studies enrolling a total of 2149 patients.
Coenzyme Q10 supplementation has a significant lowering-effect on bio-markers of low-grade systemic inflammation. This is the conclusion of a 2017 meta-analysis of 17 randomized controlled studies enrolling 811 study participants [Fan].
Inflammation is an immune system response to harmful stimuli. However, whenever the inflammation persists and becomes a chronic condition, and whenever the circulating levels of cytokines (= substances secreted by immune system cells) are elevated by a factor of two or more, then the inflammation itself can be harmful to the body in the long term.
Migraine headaches are more than just really bad tension-type headaches. Migraine is a disabling neurological disease that keeps its victims from living and working normally.
Migraine is the third most prevalent disease in the world and the sixth most disabling disease in the world. Nearly one in four American households has a family member who suffers from migraine headaches [Migraine Research Foundation].
Migraine affects three times as many women as men.
Migraine is most common between the ages of 25 and 55 years.
Migraine is a very expensive disease, both in terms of the expenditures for treatment and in terms of the lost production [Migraine Research Foundation]
Prophylactic treatment of migraine
Despite the prevalence and economic expense of migraine headaches, there are few medications approved to prevent its occurrence, and even fewer medications that do not have potentially serious adverse effects [Shoeibi].
Statin medications? What are we to think? Statins undoubtedly lower cholesterol levels and reduce the number of heart attacks.
But statin medications can and do have adverse effects [Okuyama]. One of the undesirable unintended consequences of taking a statin medication is that the patient’s bio-synthesis of Coenzyme Q10 is also inhibited. The body produces cholesterol and Coenzyme Q10 in the same biological pathway. Cut off one, and you cut off the other as well.
For 30-plus years now, bio-medical researchers have investigated and documented the functions of Coenzyme Q10 in the human body:
An essential role in cellular production of ATP energy [Littarru 2007]
An important antioxidant role preventing the oxidation of proteins, lipids, and DNA [Littarru 2007]
A role in the enhancement of endothelial function [Littarru 2011]
A beneficial role in the expression of genes involved in human cell metabolism, signaling, and transport [Garrido-Maraver]
Moreover, the scientific documentation shows that Coenzyme Q10 supplements are safe, are well-tolerated, and are effective as adjunctive treatments in diseases involving high cellular and tissue demands for energy and in diseases involving oxidative stress and oxidative damage [Garrido-Maraver].
Absorption and Bio-Availability of Coenzyme Q10
As we get older, our bodies produce less Coenzyme Q10 [Kalén]. It is not realistic to make up the difference in the diet [Judy]. Supplementation is necessary.
Oxygen is a strange element in our lives. We cannot live without it. We use it to burn nutrients to generate ATP energy in the cells. So far, so good.
But, in the process of producing energy from nutrients – the process is called cellular respiration – some small portion of the oxygen produces a by-product: free radicals. These radicals are atoms or molecules with one or more unpaired electrons in the outer orbit. There are many types of radicals; the radicals derived from oxygen – known as reactive oxygen species – are some of the most toxic radicals.
In moderate quantities, these free radicals have some useful inter-cellular and intra-cellular signaling functions. Moreover, the immune system’s phagocytic cells use radicals to kill pathogens. However, in large quantities, the highly reactive radicals that escape the respiratory chain of the mitochondria can be toxic to the cells. They can damage DNA, RNA, proteins and fatty acids in the blood and tissue.
In fact, the definition of oxidative stress is an imbalance between the quantities of potentially harmful free radicals and the quantities of antioxidants available to neutralize the free radicals before they can set off damaging chain reactions. The process of lipid peroxidation is one of the most common examples of toxic activity by oxygen-derived radicals; the radicals target the fatty acids in the phospholipid cellular membranes, i.e. the plasma membranes of the cells and the mitochondrial membranes. The antioxidant enzymes are important for the prevention of lipid peroxidation.
Heart disease continues to be the number 1 cause of death in the developed world. Much research has been done on efforts to modify some of the known risk factors for heart disease:
However, modifying these risk factors alone is not always sufficient to prevent heart disease. Hence, the extensive prescription of statin medications in the United States because changing the lipid profiles of potential heart disease patients is do-able and effective.
But the statin medications are not without adverse effects. Even in generally healthy study participants given moderate statin doses, there can be unfavorable statin medication effects on energy and exertional fatigue. Both simvastatin and pravastatin have been seen to contribute to a significant adverse effect of statins on energy and fatigue with exertion [Golomb 2012; Okuyama and Langsjoen 2015].
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.
Coenzyme Q10 as an adjunctive therapy added to conventional medication improves the symptoms and the survival of heart failure patients. It reduces the number and length of hospitalizations of heart failure patients.
We know this from the documented results of randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies [Morisco; Munkholm; Mortensen].
Coenzyme Q10 adjunctive therapy for heart failure
Recently, Dr. William Judy, founder and president of SIBR Research Institute, told me about an interesting outcome of the early Coenzyme Q10 studies with heart failure patients.