What is CoQ10? What does it do for me?

CoQ10 has two major jobs in your body: energy and protection. It gives your cells the energy they need to do their work. And as a powerful antioxidant it protects your body from pollution and toxins in the environment and within your body. Without adequate energy for your cells, your whole body slows down and you feel fatigue. Without antioxidant protection, toxic waste build up in your system will cause muscle pain and nerve pain.

Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10 for short, is an energy producing substance that the human body makes for itself, if you are healthy and eating the right foods. It is in some foods like oily fish, beef liver and whole grains. It is also available as a nutritional supplement for those who may need more due to a disease or conditions such as neuropathy or digestive system problems.

All cells need CoQ10 for their energy needs. Of all the different kinds of cells in your body, the cells of your brain, heart and nerves need the most energy of all.

Sick or damaged nerve cells in conditions like neuropathy need adequate levels of CoQ10 in order to heal.

So, you really can’t function well without adequate amounts of CoQ10.

To understand more about this important nutrient and learn what can affect your body’s ability to make it, please read the information below.

What happens if I don’t have enough CoQ10?

  • Your heart can’t pump as much blood making you feel weak and tired
  • Your lungs can’t push as much air in and out so you feel weak and tired
  • When you do exercise, your muscles hurt more and they stay weaker so you feel weak and tired
  • If you are an athlete, you need more CoQ10. If you can’t make enough, you can’t perform as well as you should and your muscles hurt more.
  • CoQ10 helps keep your LDL cholesterol from going bad and clogging up your arteries. So if your CoQ10 goes too low, you are more likely to get clogged arteries.

If my body makes CoQ10, how would I not have enough?

  • Your body produces less and less CoQ10 as you get older.
  • People with certain conditions, including diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and heart problems, tend to have low levels of CoQ10. (It isn’t known if the disease causes the deficiency or if low levels of CoQ10 cause cells to age faster making disease more likely.)
  • If you take a statin medication or red yeast rice to lower your cholesterol, the statin blocks your body’s ability to make as much CoQ10 as it needs. In fact, it has been shown that statins can lower CoQ10levels by up to 40%! This is why some people taking statin medications feel a lack of energy.

CoQ10 Levels and Statin Side Effects

Statins are prescription drugs designed to lower high cholesterol.

The statin drugs are:

  • atorvastatin (Lipitor),
  • fluvastatin (Lescol, Lescol XL),
  • lovastatin (Mevacor, Altoprev),
  • pravastatin (Pravachol),
  • rosuvastatin (Crestor),
  • simvastatin (Zocor),
  • pitavastatin (Livalo).

Although statins are very effective, they’re not for everybody. Statins can cause side effects such as:

  • muscle pain
  • nausea and diarrhea
  • liver and kidney damage
  • increased blood sugar levels and type 2 diabetes
  • neuropathy
  • fatigue

Some people experience more serious problems, including a condition that breaks down muscle cells. The damaged muscles release protein into the bloodstream. In turn, this can clog up the kidneys and cause severe kidney problems.

Along with these effects, statins also lower your body’s levels of coenzyme Q10. As the levels drop, the side effects of statins increase.

More About Statin Medications

An article in Pub Med, “ Coenzyme Q10 and Statin-Induced Mitochondrial Dysfunction”, by Richard Deichmann, MD,* Carl Lavie, MD, and Samuel Andrews, MD has this to say about Statin medication: the elderly appear to be at greater risk for statin-induced myopathies (muscle damage), which can occur in up to 11% of these patients. Statins are commonly used medications in the elderly, given the high incidence of medical problems such as diabetes, cerebrovascular disease, and cardiovascular disease in this population.

These (statin) drugs have been associated with a reduction in serum and muscle tissue coenzyme Q10 levels and may play a role in statin-induced myopathy (muscle damage). Given the low risk of toxicity and the potential benefit in treating statin-induced myopathy, a trial of 200 mg of coenzyme Q10 daily should be considered for these patients.

The elderly appear to be more susceptible to coenzyme Q10 deficiency. Athletes, who require the most efficient use of oxygen consumption by mitochondria for athletic performance, are also susceptible to mitochondrial dysfunction due to coenzyme Q10 deficiency. However, study results have been conflicting regarding the uniform effectiveness of coenzyme Q10 supplementation.

You can read the full article here if you would like more details: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3096178/

Why wouldn’t everyone benefit from taking a CoQ10 supplement?

Well most people as they get older would benefit from a CoQ10 supplement and definitely anyone taking a statin medication should be taking CoQ10. Also anyone with diabetes or neuropathy or other nerve or heart issues should benefit. But here is why some people do not seem to benefit from CoQ10 supplements.

For your body to be able to use the usual CoQ10 in a supplement, it has to change the form for CQ10 in most supplements called ubiquinone to the active form called ubiquinol.  In your body about 95% of circulating CoQ10 is in the form of ubiquinol.

However, not everyone’s body is good at converting the one form of CoQ10 into the more useful form of ubiquinol. So in the medical studies these people would show up as CoQ10 not helping them.

However, there are recently developed special types of CoQ10 supplements that now come in the active ubiquinol form.  So even if CoQ10 did not seem to help you before, one of these new ubiquinol supplements might be more effective for you.

So if you are an athlete looking for a little energy “edge” or if you are slowing down as you age or if you take a statin and would like to try a high quality C0Q10 supplement, just give us a call at 978-535-6155. Or, you can let us know at your next visit. We can supply either type of CoQ10 depending on your needs.

Yours In Health,

Dr. Ellen

Visit our website at www.neuropathynorthshore.com to learn more about new neuropathy treatments and to find more helpful articles.