CoQ10: The #1 Supplement Everyone Over 20 Needs
It’s so crucial for human vitality that our very cells depend on it to thrive.
It’s so necessary for cardiovascular health that many experts recommend it as an adjunct to certain heart medications.
Yet our levels of this powerful compound naturally decrease after age 20 – and by age 80, we may be totally depleted.
And while some animal foods contain a decent amount of this substance, the best way to ensure you’re getting enough may be through supplementation.
But here’s the kicker: This critical compound isn’t a vitamin.
So what is it – and just how can it help you?
CoQ10: A Powerful “Un-Vitamin”…
Coenzyme Q10 may not be a vitamin, but its role in the human body is just as – if not more – important. You see, this compound, also known as ubiquinone, is a critical component of the electron transfer chain in mitochondrial respiration where a cell’s energy is produced. In other words, our bodies depend on it to stay energized and keep things running smoothly.
It makes sense, then, that CoQ10 is found in the highest concentrations in organs that have the highest metabolic energy requirements, such as the heart, kidney, liver and skeletal muscle.
In fact, it was from a cow heart that CoQ10 was first discovered and isolated in 1957. That same year, scientists found the compound present in the livers of rats. In 1958, researchers at Merck determined its chemical structure and became the first to produce it as a possible treatment for cardiovascular disease. Unfortunately, interest soon turned to pharmaceutical drugs, and study into CoQ10 waned in the United States.
However, clinical use of CoQ10 to treat cardiovascular disease began in Japan during the 1960s. By the 1970s, research into the effectiveness of this compound in heart problems and other diseases had begun in earnest. In the past several decades, studies in Europe, Japan, and even the U.S. have uncovered powerful antioxidant properties in CoQ10.
Today, Japanese adults rely on CoQ10 as their treatment of choice for cardiovascular disease. More Americans are also becoming interested in the potential benefits of CoQ10.1
But is CoQ10 all it’s cracked up to be?
Take This Supplement to Heart: CoQ10 Benefits…
CoQ10 undoubtedly seems to hold the most promise for improving cardiovascular health, and most recent studies have focused on this area. Research has shown that the compound appears to help relax and dilate blood vessels, which in turn can help decrease blood pressure.2,5
And as an antioxidant, CoQ10 may help protect against heart failure by preventing oxidative damage by harmful free radicals. Indeed, congestive heart failure has been strongly linked with significantly low levels of CoQ10.2
Clinical studies suggest that adding supplemental CoQ10 to conventional medication may decrease symptoms (such as shortness of breath, swelling, enlarged liver, and insomnia) and improve quality of life in people with mild to severe congestive heart failure.2,6,7
For instance, one study of 23 men and women with congestive heart failure found that those who took 100 mg of CoQ10 three times a day for 4 weeks had better blood vessel function than those who received placebo pills.3
Other studies show that CoQ10 supplements may decrease the risk of future cardiac events in people who have recently suffered a myocardial infarction (heart attack).8 For example, researchers looked at 21 patients with congestive heart failure who took either 100 mg of CoQ10 or a placebo pill three times a day for 4 weeks. They found that the supplement improved heart muscle health and function, without side effects.4
Plus, there’s good evidence that statin drugs used to lower cholesterol also deplete the body’s natural levels of CoQ10. Studies show that people who take statins can benefit by supplementing with CoQ10. Other research has found that CoQ10 may help lower systolic blood pressure by 11 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 7 mmHg in people with hypertension, compared with placebo.2,5
A Bright Future…
Although CoQ10 is best studied for its effect on cardiovascular health, it may have other benefits as well.
Much more research is needed before it can be recommended for these conditions, but preliminary evidence suggests that the supplement may help improve periodontal (gum) disease, advanced age-related macular degeneration, migraines, and symptoms of fibromyalgia.2,9
You can find CoQ10 in some animal foods, particularly organ meats, but your best bet appears to be supplementation.
CoQ10 generally appears safe when taken in supplement form; side effects are rare and include nausea, vomiting, stomach upset, heartburn, diarrhea, loss of appetite, skin itching, rash, insomnia, headache, dizziness, itching, irritability, fatigue, flu-like symptoms, and increased light sensitivity of the eyes.
Some people should avoid CoQ10, including those who take medications used to treat diabetes, high blood pressure, and liver disease, as well as anticoagulants (such as warfarin) and chemotherapy drugs. Don’t take CoQ10 within two weeks of having surgery.
That said, CoQ10 could be a valuable addition to your supplement regimen especially if you have or at high risk for heart disease, have high blood pressure, have had a heart attack, or take statin drugs. The recommended dose is 100mg three times a day.
CoQ10 is sold as capsules, gel caps, and effervescent tablets, all of which seem to have the same effectiveness. Some manufacturers claim that ubiquinol, the reduced form of CoQ10, is more bioactive than regular ubiquinone preparations, but both appear equally bioavailable.
Remember, keep an open mind to new ideas, but ALWAYS do your own homework…and combine that with common sense to figure out what’s best for YOU.
3 Belardinelli R, Muçaj A, Lacalaprice F, et al. Coenzyme Q10 and exercise training in chronic heart failure. Eur Heart J. 2006 Nov;27(22):2675-81.
4 Belardinelli R, Muçaj A, Lacalaprice F, et al. Coenzyme Q10 improves contractility of dysfunctional myocardium in chronic heart failure. Biofactors. 2005;25(1-4):137-45.
5 Burke BE, Neuenschwander R, Olson RD. Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of coenzyme Q10 in isolated systolic hypertension. South Med J. 2001 Nov;94(11):1112-7.
6 Morisco C, Trimarco B, Condorelli M. Effect of coenzyme Q10 therapy in patients with congestive heart failure: a long-term multicenter randomized study. Clin Investig. 1993;71(8 Suppl):S134-6.
7 Tiano L, Belardinelli R, Carnevali P, et al. Effect of coenzyme Q10 administration on endothelial function and extracellular superoxide dismutase in patients with ischaemic heart disease: a double-blind, randomized controlled study. Eur Heart J. 2007 Sep;28(18):2249-55.
8 Singh RB, Wander GS, Rastogi A, et al. Randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial of coenzyme Q10 in patients with acute myocardial infarction. Cardiovasc Drugs Ther. 1998 Sep;12(4):347-53.
9 Sándor PS, Di Clemente L, Coppola G, et al. Efficacy of coenzyme Q10 in migraine prophylaxis: a randomized controlled trial. Neurology. 2005 Feb 22;64(4):713-5.
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