Cellular respiration is the name for the process by which the ATP molecules are produced inside the mitochondria in our cells. Coenzyme Q10 in its oxidized form is an essential component in this process of energy production.
Fewer Coenzyme Q10 molecules in the mitochondria inevitably mean less ATP energy production. Fewer ATP molecules mean less energy for our cells.
Heart muscle cells with low Coenzyme Q10 concentrations and with fewer ATP molecules produced make for an energy starved heart.
Some very interesting studies of the treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome patients with oral Coenzyme Q10 supplements have revealed improved symptoms for as long as the treatment continued. What happened in these studies?
The chronic fatigue syndrome patients in these studies had abnormally low plasma and tissue (leg muscle) Coenzyme Q10 concentrations at baseline. Oral administration of a well-formulated Coenzyme Q10 dissolved in vegetable oil resulted in significant increases in plasma and tissue Coenzyme Q10 levels.
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].
Chronic, low-grade, systemic inflammation is common in many diseases: cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, obesity, type-2 diabetes [Zhai 2017]. Anti-inflammatory drugs give modest improvement at best and are associated with long-term adverse effects [Esser 2015]. Some researchers have begun to investigate whether Coenzyme Q10 as an adjunctive treatment has anti-inflammatory health benefits.
Can we make a convincing argument for fibromyalgia patients to take a daily Coenzyme Q10 nutritional supplement? If so, what is the basis for the argument?
Fibromyalgia is a complex disorder. It causes pain, joint stiffness, debilitating fatigue, and difficulty thinking and remembering. Its cause is not known; its treatment is uncertain. It affects as many as five million Americans above the age of 18 years. It affects many more women than men.
Coenzyme Q10 status and fibromyalgia
The first thing to know is that fibromyalgia is associated with low plasma Coenzyme Q10 levels [Garrido-Maraver 2014].
Coenzyme Q10 is an essential bio-nutrient that is made naturally in the human body. It is a necessary co-factor in the process of cellular energy production. It also functions as a lipid-soluble antioxidant protecting our cells against oxidative damage (oxidative damage = damage caused by free radicals that harm cell membranes and cell DNA and proteins and fats in the blood).
Unfortunately, as we pass through our 20s and move into our 30s and 40s and head towards senior citizen status, our cells produce less of this essential substance with increasing age [Kalén]. We know this.
Older active adults who are taking a statin medication? Shouldn’t they go right to the top of the list of people who need a good Coenzyme Q10 supplement?
That is the question that Dr. Richard Deichmann and his colleagues in the Department of Internal Medicine at the Ochsner Clinical School in New Orleans asked themselves. They tested whether daily supplementation with 200 milligrams of Coenzyme Q10 daily for six weeks would improve measures of cellular energy production, muscle function, and well-being in older active adults taking statin medications.
Coenzyme Q10 supplementation as a therapeutic option for chronic disease management and for recovery from surgery? Yes. I have just seen interesting reports from two Taiwanese research studies of Coenzyme Q10 supplementation of liver cancer patients.
The study participants were patients with hepatocellular carcinomas: patients whose liver cancer had started in the liver, not migrated to the liver from some other site in the body. Hepatocellular carcinomas are one of the leading causes of cancer death world-wide [Liu 2016].
Chronic fatigue syndrome is a complicated illness. As its name states, it is a chronic condition, and it is characterized by a debilitating fatigue. The fatigue may be exacerbated by physical or mental exertion. Strangely enough, the fatigue is not alleviated by rest or relaxation [Mayo Clinic].
The cause of chronic fatigue syndrome is still unknown. The major symptom, the chronic fatigue, is also seen in such related conditions as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) and systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID) [Mayo Clinic].
Coenzyme Q10 supplements are clearly one of the products in today’s America that come in many different formulations. And, with respect to Coenzyme Q10’s absorption and effectiveness, the important difference is the difference in the formulation. Dr. William Judy, the director of the SIBR Research Institute, has tested Coenzyme Q10 supplements with absorption rates ranging from below 1% to as high as 8% of a 100-milligram capsule.
Coenzyme Q10 absorption necessary for heart health benefits
That is as good as saying that some Coenzyme Q10 supplements give no absorption of consequence at all. At the other end of the spectrum, we know that some formulations give an absorption that is associated with statistically significant health benefits. I am referring, of course, to the results that we have seen in these randomized controlled trials: