‘Researchers discover CoQ10 beats heart disease, claim it as a drug’ ran the headline of the story I read the other day. I was keen to read more about such a vital topic, especially as the story seemed to largely have slipped under the radar as it related to an announcement of research in May.
It was also intriguing as CoQ10 has been subject to a huge amount of worldwide clinical research and media in recent years. The ‘nutrient’ has been hailed as a powerful antioxidant fighting free radicals, providing energy metabolism, supporting cardiovascular health and with the potential for a range of health benefits. It has also been embraced by the cosmetics industry and included in facial creams.
However Co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10 for short) has yet to impress EFSA (The European Food Safety Authority) who have turned down a range of health claims for the compound – for example all of the ones listed in the above paragraph.
Back to the research and the European Society of Cardiology summary notes (link to website below) – “Important new data shows CoQ10 improves survival in heart failure patients – Taking Coenzyme Q 10 (CoQ10) supplements improved overall survival in a randomized placebo controlled study of patients with moderate to severe heart failure, reports the Q-SYMBIO trial. Furthermore the investigator initiated study, which is presented as an abstract at the Heart Failure 2013 meeting, also showed improvements in hospitalisations, NYHA class and adverse events for the group receiving CoQ10.”
The Daily telegraph provide a good summary of the research (link below) and their article comments “Researchers claim that patients who took the supplement, known as Coenzyme Q10, alongside their normal medication during a two-year study had lower levels of mortality than those who did not. Professor Svend Mortensen, from the Heart Centre at Copenhagen University Hospital, who led the study, said: “The CoQ10 treated patients had reduced hospital admission rates for worsening heart failure and lower cardiovascular death, both of which may reflect a significant improvement in cardiac function. CoQ10 should be considered as a part of the maintenance therapy of patients with chronic heart failure.””
The Telegraph article has a small note of caution – “Helen Williams, a consultant pharmacist for cardiovascular disease at NHS Southwark Clinical Commissioning Group and a member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said: “this is a relatively small study for a cardiovascular trial. “We have often been misled before by small studies that fail to show benefits when extended to larger numbers of patients, so I would greet these results with cautious optimism.” ”
This is however a potentially enormously exciting development in respect of research into CoQ10 much of which has focussed on its role in cardiovascular health. The research to date seems to lend increasing weight toward a proven role for CoQ10 in supporting good heart health. Indeed there are a number of ongoing trials and studies into not only the potential benefit for CoQ10 in cardiovascular health but also in respect of a range of ailments including diabetes and a range of cancers.
CoQ10 is used as an integral part of energy metabolism inside our cells. Coenzyme Q10 is an amazing chemical cofactor which is required by every cell in the body to produce the energy we need to live. It has been shown to increase the level of energy to all muscles and is especially important to cardiac function as it increases energy production at an optimal rate.
CoQ10 is found in small quantities in foods such as red meats and fish; it is high in red organ meat and fish, in soy oil and canola and also in most fruit and vegetables, albeit at lower but nevertheless healthy levels. However our production of CoQ10 decreases as we age so it may be beneficial to supplement with the correct form of this enzyme to achieve the potential health benefits.
Ubiquinol is the reduced form of CoQ10 and immediately bioavailable and bioeffective. CoQ10 is used intracellularly and hence needs to be in a fatty substrate to cross the cell membrane. The ‘Ubiquinone’ form of CoQ10 is water soluble not fat soluble whilst the reduced form is fat soluble and crosses the cell membrane.
We synthesise CoQ10 through a selenium dependent pathway. As we age our production naturally wanes. CoQ10 is part of the energy metabolic cycle in the body and heart muscle has a huge requirement for it. As we age our heart muscle needs more and our production wanes, hence the potential need for supplementation.
As an anti-oxidant CoQ10 protects the oxidisation of lipids including LDL cholesterol and is essential for the production of energy in the mitochondria and the elasticity of blood vessels. Those taking the cholesterol reducing statins are particularly at risk of lowered CoQ10 levels due to their ability to block the natural production of CoQ10 by the liver.
Statins inhibit an enzyme called ‘CoA reductase’; CoA reductase produces cholesterol from its precursors. CoA reductase is also the first committed rate-limiting step for the synthesis of a range of other compounds including steroid hormones and CoQ10. So in essence the parallel enzyme pathway inhibits not only cholesterol, but also other compounds including CoQ10 and the reduction in CoQ10 is almost totally responsible for the known side effects of statins – muscle pain on exercise etc. This is because the mitochondria in muscle tissue need CoQ10 for energy during exercise.
Those people who have suffered cardiovascular problems need to be aware that the heart muscle gets damaged in heart attacks and rarely if ever recovers to the same level of function as it had before the attack. So suitable CoQ10 supplementation will help optimise the function of such muscles post attack or post damage. For those on Statins the evidence seems very strong that CoQ10 supplementation will boost the needed levels being inhibited by the Statins. And finally as a preventative for people typically over the age of 55 then CoQ10 supplementation may be beneficial as our natural production wanes with aging and concurrently our organs and systems are wearing so the need increases; i.e. our natural production wanes yet our need increases – so supplementation with CoQ10 to avoid shortfalls seems a sensible option. And remember – Ubiquinol is the best supplement form of CoQ10 and the one to look for.
If you have any questions regarding this article, cardiovascular health, or any other health matters please do contact me (Amanda) by phone or email at any time.