So many times my patients ask me if there is one single thing that can protect their heart as well as give them more energy. I always answer with a resounding, Yes! That one thing I would recommend to everyone past the age of 40 is getting adequate amounts of CoQ10.
As I explain to my patients, as we get older, many nutrients that our body uses for its daily processes can become deficient. Either we are not eating enough of the right foods to maintain good levels or our bodies have put a demand on the nutrient for more usage. This can often be the case with CoQ10. I’d like to share with you what you should know about this amazing nutrient and all the ways it can help you become, and stay, healthy long into your golden years!
What is CoQ10?
CoQ10 is short for coenzyme Q10, and also goes by the name of Ubiquinone or Ubiquinol. It is an important energy transporting enzyme found naturally in your body. It converts food into energy and helps transport that energy to all the cells of your body.
CoQ10 is also a powerful antioxidant – you’ve read about antioxidants in my newsletters before as I frequently recommend them to my patients to stay healthy. Antioxidants fight free radical production. Free radicals are oxidation particles that results as a by-product of the many processes cells perform in their daily tasks sort of like the ashes left after a fire.
A build up of free radicals can cause cells to break down, damages DNA, and allows disease states to set in like cancer and heart disease. CoQ10 is a master antioxidant that scavenges and neutralizes these free radicals before they can damage your cells. CoQ10 also is thought to greatly benefit heart health as it can prevent clots as well as increase cellular energy.
Here are some of the many hats CoQ10 wears in keeping your cells functioning normally:
- Heart protectant: Fights inflammation and preserves vascular strength. It is also associated with lowering cholesterol levels. Helps lower blood pressure, benefits function in congestive heart failure, and improves exercise tolerance in angina patients.
- Diabetes: Helps stabilize blood sugar levels and also prevents heart disease in people with diabetes. 200 mg of CoQ10 daily was shown to improve hemoglobin A1c levels.
- Periodontal disease: Some studies show that people with gum disease also have deficiencies in CoQ10. Helps quicken healing of this condition. Break open a capsule and rub the oil directly onto the gums.
- Immune function: Thought to benefit people with compromised immune systems as in HIV, HCV, AIDs.
- Male Fertility: Thought to increase motility of sperm.
- Parkinson Disease: May be helpful in treating this condition in addition to other drugs.
- Cancer: Studies have shown help with side effects of radiation treatments.
Are You Getting Enough CoQ1O?
As mentioned above, as we get older we have a greater need for CoQ10 because our body processes may put a greater demand on it. Be sure you’re getting enough of this amazing nutrient, at least 200 mg a day.
- Best food sources: Organ meats (chicken and beef hearts and liver), red and white flesh fish, soybean, olive oil, all nuts, sesame seeds, parsley.
- Supplements: Ubiquinone is the most common form of CoQ10, the oxidized form, and is usually the cheapest but doesn’t have the free radical scavenging power of ubiquinol as ubiquinone has to be converted to ubiquinol before the body can use it. Ubiquinol is the already-reduced form of CoQ10 and more expensive to produce. It’s free radical fighting properties are much greater and work better in over 40 people. If money is a concern, ubiquinone can help, but over 40 you may need to take a little more of it. If it only says CoQ10 on the label, it’s most likely the ubiquinone form.
Using CoQ10 With Other Drugs
As I recommend CoQ10 without hesitation to my over 40 patients, I also make them aware of some issues associated with taking it with other medications. Before taking CoQ10 on your own, here are some things you should know:
- Diabetics: CoQ10 can lower blood sugar levels, so you may have to lower your dose of insulin or antiglycemic medication if taking CoQ10 to prevent hypoglycemia.
- Chemotherapy: CoQ10 reduces the heart-toxic effect of daunorubicin or doxorubicin (a good thing!) but also may reduce their effectiveness. Ask your oncologist about using it.
- Blood pressure medications: As CoQ10 helps lower blood pressure, taking it in conjunction with BP meds can cause your pressure to drop too low. Your medication dosage may need to be decreased, but less drugs is always better.
- Clot Dissolving Drugs: CoQ10 may decrease the effectiveness of Coumadin, warfarin, heparin, blood thinning drugs, and this can be a negative if you are at risk for developing blood clots. Ask your doctor about taking CoQ10 with these type drugs.
- Eye Drugs: If you take betoptic eye drops, CoQ10 can reduce the negative heart effect without changing the effectiveness of the eye drops (a good thing!).
As I advise my patients, CoQ10 is of great benefit to your health and I recommend it. Like many supplements, however, taking it with prescription medications should be balanced carefully. In addition, other medications like cholesterol-lowering drugs, tricyclic antidepressants, and beta-blocker type blood pressure medications can lower the amount of CoQ10 in your body which supplementation of CoQ10 would benefit to ward off any deficiencies.
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
Coenzyme Q10, http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/coenzyme-q10-000295.htm
Coenzyme Q10, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coenzyme_Q10#CoQ10_deficiency_and_toxicity