Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10): Help for Broken Hearts

According to the American Heart Association, more than 71 million Americans—, about  one in three, —suffer from one or more types of heart disease.  Every 35 seconds, someone dies from it.1 

The Ever-Ready Energizers

Coenzyme Q10, a vitamin-like compound found in the center of the cell known as the mitochondria, produces adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which helps every cell in the body produce the energy needed for maintenance and growth.  ATP also helps enzymes produce protein needed by the body to digest food and perform other biological processes such as protecting the heart and skeletal muscles.

In addition, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) works as an antioxidant to destroy cell-damaging free radicals, —those oxidized molecules caused by overexposure to the sun, radiation, cigarette smoke, environmental contaminants, and air pollution.  Free radicals not only alter cell membranes, mutate DNA, and cause cell death, but they are also a major contributor to many age-related health issues. This support helps to promote and enhance your heart's health. 

Coenzyme Q10 is often found in organ meats (liver, kidney, heart), beef, soy oil, sardines, mackerel, and peanuts, so it is possible to get enough coenzyme Q10 from the diet.  However, manufacturing CoQ10 in the body requires adequate levels of eight vitamins, several trace minerals, and the amino acid tyrosine. A deficiency in any one of these vital nutrients can hinder the body’s production of coenzyme Q10.

And coenzyme Q10 naturally decreases with age.  The body reaches peak levels of coenzyme Q10 at around age 20.  By the age of 40, the body has 40% less coenzyme Q10 than at age 20 and by 70, the body has 60% less coenzyme Q10.

Know Your Statins

Unfortunately, the drugs often prescribed to help regulate cholesterol can also deplete the body of necessary coenzyme Q10.

Statins (also known as HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors) such as atorvastatin, rosuvastatin, pravastatin, simvastatin, lovastatin, and fluvastatin sold under the trade names Lipitor®, Crestor®, Pravachol®, Zocor®, Mevacor®, and Lescol® lower cholesterol by reducing the body’s production of HMG-CoA reductase, an enzyme needed to produce cholesterol.

But this process is not selective.  Not only do statin drugs block cholesterol production, they also block the production of coenzyme Q10 creating a deficiency that, at a minimum, lowers immunity and helps produce the side effects associated with statin drugs.  One study showed that patients taking lovastatin had lower total and LDL cholesterol levels, but reported higher incidences of fatigue.3 

The potential side effects of coenzyme Q10 deficiency, however, can be more serious.  A study conducted at Columbia University found that subjects taking atorvastatin for 30 days showed a significant decrease in coenzyme Q10 levels after just 14 days, causing the researchers to suggest that “widespread inhibition of CoQ10 synthesis could explain the most commonly reported adverse effects of statins.”4

Cited Sources:

1) “Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics: 2006 Update,” American Heart Association Feb. 2006

2) “Benefits of coenzyme Q10,” New Straits Times, 7/31/2005.

3) Singh RB, et al. “Effect of coenzyme Q10 on risk of atherosclerosis in patients with recent myocardial infarction.

Molecular Cellular Biochemistry, 246, 1-2:75-82, 2003.

4) Rundek T, et al. “Atorvastatin decreases the coenzyme Q10 level in the blood of patients at risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke. Arch Neurology, 61:889-892, 2004.

5) “Dr. Julian M. Whitaker petitions FDA to include coenzyme Q10 use recommendation in all statin drug labeling. Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, 8/1/2002.