Life Extension Magazine®

Issue: Winter Edition 2019

CoQ10 Continues to Impress Researchers

CoQ10 helps maintain bone density, improve neurological function, and protect against diabetic complications, along with its heart and kidney benefits.

By Susan Cummings

Life Extension® informed readers about coenzyme Q10 ( CoQ10) in 1983.

Back in those early years, Americans did not know about CoQ10 even though it was widely prescribed in Japan to treat heart failure.

As clinical data mount about the ability of CoQ10 to improveheart, brain, and kidney function,1-5 it has become a popular dietary supplement in the United States.

New findings reveal improved bone density,6,7 reduced inflammation,5,8 and protection against diabetic complications.9,10

But not everyone is garnering these benefits.

With age, the body’s ability to fully utilize most commercial sources of CoQ10 (ubiquinone) diminishes.

When using the ubiquinol form, more CoQ10 is absorbed and made bioavailable to tissues throughout the body.

In younger people, CoQ10 is abundantly produced naturally.

With age and/or use of statin drugs, internal production of coenzyme Q10 plummets. The adverse consequence is systemic cellular energy depletion.

Supplementation with the ubiquinol form of CoQ10 can restore youthful CoQ10 blood levels and maximize its health-promoting effects.

What is Coenzyme Q10?

Coq10 Decline with Age

Coenzyme Q10 is found in every cell in our bodies. It’s located in the energy generators of our cells called the mitochondria.

As CoQ10 declines with aging and use of statin drugs, cell energy production falls, resulting in impaired organ function.

CoQ10 helps protect LDL from oxidation that contributes to atherosclerosis.11

Small amounts of CoQ10 (about 3 mg to 6 mg) can be acquired from meat and fish.12 To achieve benefits identified in human studies, doses of 100 mg a day and higher are needed.

Ubiquinol Vs. Ubiquinone

Ubiquinol and ubiquinone are two forms of CoQ10, but they have different characteristics.

Ubiquinone is the oxidized form of CoQ10 found in most commercial supplements. When ubiquinone is ingested, it must first be converted in the body to the active ubiquinol form.13

Ubiquinol , on the other hand, is readily available and highly absorbable for immediate use by cells. One study showed that ubiquinol supplementation increased CoQ10 blood levels by nearly five times from baseline.14

This means that ubiquinol is more efficient at increasing plasma levels of CoQ10 than ubiquinone.

Ubiquinol also penetrates into diverse tissues in the body.15,16 This includes crossing the blood-brain barrier to help energize brain cells.

In healthy, younger individuals, ubiquinol makes up at least 95% of all the CoQ10 in the plasma.17,18

In the elderly, particularly those with chronic disease, the percentage of the oxidized ubiquinone form of CoQ10 increases, leaving less ubiquinol.19

For aging people seeking higher CoQ10 bioavailability, ubiquinol is the preferred choice.

CoQ10 and Heart Health

Man exercising

Doctors who prescribe statin drugs to lower cholesterol often recommend that patients increase their intake of coenzyme Q10 during treatment.

There are two reasons: Statins decrease levels of CoQ10 in the body,20-25 and supplementation may help reduce some side effects of statins, like muscle soreness and liver damage.25-28

Beyond those beneficial effects, CoQ10 also supports cardiovascular health.1,2,13,29-33

In patients treated with statins for high cholesterol, studies have demonstrated that adding coenzyme Q10 (200 mg per day) in conjunction with fish oil (1,560 mg EPA/ 465 mg DHA) significantly reduced blood pressure, markers of inflammation, and lipid levels.30

Even without the use of a statin drug, coenzyme Q10 alone (120 mg daily) decreased LDL (“bad”) cholesterol by6.5% and lowered blood pressure in a recent study.13

Studies have also shown that coenzyme Q10 can benefit patients suffering from heart failure.

In a placebo-controlled study of heart failure patients, the group supplementing with CoQ10 had improved exercise capacity, decreased occurrence of cardiac-related events—and a significantly reduced, overall cardiac-related mortality.1,2

In 2018, researchers analyzed patients many years after supplementation with coenzyme Q10 and selenium. They found that those who had been treated continued to exhibit a significant reduction in risk for cardiovascular-related death 12 years later.29

What you need to know

  • Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an important compound required for the processes that supply energy to cells and to protect from the damaging effects of free radicals.
  • In addition to reducing side effects of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, CoQ10 has been linked to protection from cardiovascular disease, neurological conditions, age-related bone loss, metabolic disorders like obesity and diabetes, and more.
  • There are two forms of CoQ10: ubiquinol and ubiquinone. Studies have shown that ubiquinol is more easily absorbed, making it the preferred type in supplements.
  • Supplementation with 100 mg to 400 mg per day of ubiquinol CoQ10 is safe and has been associated with health benefits in various human studies. Higher doses (400 mg/day) are often prescribed by cardiologists for heart failure patients.

Brain Benefits

Coenzyme Q10 has been found to offer several benefits to the brain and nervous system.3,4,34-37

In rats exposed to traumatic brain injury, CoQ10 demonstrates the ability to reduce the severity of brain-cell damage.36 Rodent models of stroke show that CoQ10 lessens the damage seen in the brain and reduces markers of oxidative stress, inflammation, and cell death in affected tissues.34,35

In animal models of Parkinson’s disease, CoQ10 leads to improvements on behavioral tests and slows the progression of the disease.38,39

In cell and mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease, CoQ10 was found to improve memory and limit the damage caused by amyloid, a harmful protein that is implicated in the deterioration of brain function.40,41

Human studies have demonstrated brain-health benefits of coenzyme Q10. For example, a study of migraine sufferers who supplemented with 100 mg to 400 mg per day of CoQ10 showed clinical improvement, including decreased frequency, severity, and duration of migraine haedaches.3,4

Shilajit Boosts the Actions of CoQ10

Shilajit is a substance arising from the decomposition of various plants. It has been widely used for centuries in traditional Indian medicine to promote physical and mental health.

Shilajit contains a wide mix of minerals and organic compounds. Among these are compounds whose actions complement those of coenzyme Q10.

Experimental studies have shown that CoQ10 and shilajit work together to boost cellular energy production more than either nutrient alone.54,55

Compounds in shilajit also stabilize CoQ10 so that it is not broken down and can continue to work longer.54,56

Fulvic acid, one of the principal components of shilajit, has promising potential for chronic inflammatory diseases. Fulvic acid directly stimulates energy production by mitochondria, further augmenting the effects of CoQ10.57

Metabolic Health

Statin treatment decreases coq10 blood levels

While CoQ10 is best known for its impact on cellular energy and heart health, research shows that it also plays a role in maintaining metabolic health.

Plasma levels of ubiquinol are often reduced in patients with type II diabetes.42 Experimental and clinical evidence suggests that supplementation with coenzyme Q10 helps improve glucose control, insulin, and fat metabolism.9,42-46

A recent review of 14 different trials, including close to 700 overweight/obese diabetic subjects, showed that supplementation with CoQ10 reduced levels of triglycerides, glucose, fasting insulin, and hemoglobin A1c.44

CoQ10 also has favorable effects on metabolic health and markers of inflammation in people
suffering from kidney disease, a common diabetic complication.9,10

Better Bones

Aging often leads to osteoporosis, a decline in bone density that increases the risk for fractures. Osteoporosis is a major contributor to disability and death in the elderly.47

Healthy bones require constant remodeling, a balance between bone breakdown and new bone growth. If the balance leans towards more breakdown and less new bone formation, bones grow thin and fragile.

In preclinical studies, coenzyme Q10 demonstrated the ability to prevent age-related decline in bone density, decreasing breakdown of bone while boosting new bone formation and stimulating the growth of bone-forming osteoblast cells.6,7

Other Benefits

Statin drugs

Researchers are constantly exploring potential new uses for CoQ10.

Recent evidence suggests that it enhances the sensitivity to chemotherapy and radiation of human glioblastoma cells (a deadly form of brain cancer). 48 CoQ10 may even inhibit the activity of some cells associated with the development of pancreatic cancer.49

CoQ10 has also been found to decrease markers of chronic inflammation. As people age, inflammatory markers increase and contribute to a host of degenerative disorders. 5,8,50

Studies show that CoQ10 helps increase levels of beneficial hormones that decline with age, such as insulin-like growth factor,51 and decrease compounds associated with inflammation, such as C-reactive protein and tumor necrosis factor.52 This makes it a powerful supplement for anti-aging and disease risk- reduction strategies.

A recent, systematic analysis of clinical trials suggests that CoQ10 supplementation could be effective at alleviating fatigue.53

Statin Drugs Lower Coenzyme Q10 Levels

Roughly 30% of all adults in the U.S. take prescription statin drugs to lower levels of LDL cholesterol, such as atorvastatin (Lipitor®), simvastatin (Zocor®), and pravastatin (Pravachol®).58

But long-term use of these drugs has a risk: low levels of coenzyme Q10.59,60 The action statins take to block an enzyme that increases cholesterol production also blocks production of CoQ10 in the body, leading to a deficiency.

As a result, many experts recommend that people taking statin medication increase their intake of CoQ10. Due to its superior bioavailability, ubiquinol can best replenish low levels of CoQ10.61

Summary

Coenzyme Q10 has been linked to better cardiovascular, neurological, metabolic, and bone health.

CoQ10 comes in two forms, ubiquinol andubiquinone, but they’re not the same. Ubiquinol is the form responsible for its health benefits, and it’s more easily absorbed than ubiquinone.

While younger people can benefit from either form, maturing individuals should consider ubiquinol because their internal production of CoQ10 is so deficient.

The chart on this page shows how CoQ10 levels plummet in response to statin drug use. The chart also reveals that normal, aged people already have less-than-optimal CoQ10 blood levels.

Taking 100 mg and more of the ubiquinol form of coenzyme Q10 with a fatty meal can help older individuals lead a longer, healthier life.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.

References

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