CoQ10’s “Other” Health BenefitsFebruary 2006
By Sherry Kahn, MPH
Other Potential Applications
In recent months, scientists have uncovered a widening array of applications for coenzyme Q10. According to new studies, CoQ10 may:
Protect against hearing loss. Mitochondrial DNA mutation is one cause of sensorineural hearing loss, a condition that causes changes in the inner ear or nerve pathways and is not correctable through medical interventions.23 In individuals with genetically based sensorineural hearing loss, coenzyme Q10 supplementation prevented further loss of hearing, while the control that did not supplement demonstrated continued deterioration of hearing function.
Improve learning. Supplementation with vitamin E and coenzyme Q10 helped a group of older mice to learn tasks more quickly than mice supplemented with only one of the two antioxidants.24 These findings suggest that coenzyme Q10 and vitamin E act in concert and may together help prevent age-related deficits in cognitive function.
Extend life span. In animals fed a diet enriched with polyunsaturated fatty acids, supplementing with coenzyme Q10 increased life span and protected against DNA alterations. Scientists recently determined that CoQ10 supplementation may confer these benefits by attenuating the decline in naturally occurring antioxidants that commonly accompanies aging.25
Prevent cachexia. The combination of coenzyme Q10 with vitamins B2 (riboflavin) and B3 (niacin) offers promise in preventing the weight loss and muscle wasting associated with cancer. In cancer, mitochondrial energy production is diminished, which may ultimately lead to the fatigue, weight loss, and muscle loss known as cachexia. In rats with experimentally induced breast cancer, supplementation with the energy-modulating nutrients B2, B3, and CoQ10 helped restore mitochondrial energy production, suggesting that this nutrient combination may help prevent cachexia.26
Assist muscle regeneration. Supplementing with coenzyme Q10 and vitamin E supported muscle regeneration in animals with experimentally induced muscle decay. The investigators noted that CoQ10 exerted a greater influence on muscle regeneration than did vitamin E.27
Protect against surgical stress. Supplementing with 300 mg of CoQ10 daily for two weeks prior to heart surgery boosted measures of heart muscle health, investigators recently noted. When heart muscle samples of the supplemented individuals were analyzed following elective surgery, this tissue exhibited improved energy production, decreased oxidative stress, and enhanced recovery from oxygen depletion compared to tissue samples from unsupplemented patients.28
Promote male fertility. Coenzyme Q10 supplementation for six months improved asthenozoospermia (reduced sperm motility) in infertile men.29 In an earlier study, administering a CoQ10 analog to men led to significant increases in both sperm count and motility.30 These findings suggest that CoQ10 may help improve defective sperm function, a common and difficult-to-treat cause of male infertility.
Protect against senile plaques. A laboratory study demonstrated CoQ10’s ability to destabilize amyloid beta peptides, a hallmark abnormality of Alzheimer’s disease.31 This suggests a further potential neuroprotective mechanism of coenzyme Q10.
Impede diabetic complications. An animal study has shown that CoQ10 displays potential for preventing complications associated with diabetes.32
Lower triglycerides. The results of an Italian preliminary clinical trial suggest that the combination of CoQ10 and fibrate drugs may benefit individuals with exceedingly high levels of triglycerides who fail to respond to fibrates alone.33
The latest findings suggest that, along with its heart-protective effects, CoQ10 may slow or improve some degenerative diseases, support cancer remission, counteract the toxic effects of chemotherapy, and decrease the incidence of migraine headaches. Additionally, recent findings indicate that coenzyme Q10 may have applications in promoting fertility, protecting auditory function, supporting longevity, boosting learning capability, sustaining muscle health and much more.
CoQ10 investigations are expanding into new areas, and researchers are now calling for larger, well-designed studies to support intriguing findings from small and observational trials. With CoQ10’s pervasiveness in the body and the many essential functions it performs, scientists will no doubt continue to elucidate this vital nutrient’s many potential applications.
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