Because February is Heart Health Month, the topic today is one of the most important nutritional supplements for your heart, Coenzyme Q10. Commonly called CoQ10, it is involved in respiration (the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide) at the cellular (mitochondrial) level, rather than in the lungs. This effect is most prominent in muscles, since they use most of the oxygen taken in by the body. And the most active muscle we have in our bodies is the heart. Thus, if we are deficient in CoQ10, the heart does not function at its full capacity.
There are two forms of Coenzyme Q10: ubiquinone and ubiquinol. Most commonly available is ubiquinone, but the ubiquinol form is “reduced,” which means it carries an additional electron to help neutralize the oxidants.
A recent study from The European Journal of Heart Failure demonstrated that over a 10-year period, heart failure patients who took 100mg of Coenzyme Q10 three times a day had significantly reduced rates of death from heart disease, were less than half as likely to die from any reason, and were half as likely to experience a major heart event. These benefits were detectable even after a few months, but at two years, were significant. And note that this study was in patients who were experiencing heart failure, not just milder forms of heart disease.
Coenzyme Q10 is also being used in other cardiovascular issues including hypertension (high blood pressure), endothelial dysfunction, and post-heart attack.
Most damage from heart attacks comes not from the lack of blood flow (ischemia) but from the stress caused when blood flow is restored (reperfusion). Studies have shown CoQ10 to be useful in reducing this damage, including reducing the long-term effects of heart attacks, including arrhythmias.
Endothelial dysfunction is a major factor in causing high blood pressure and coronary artery disease. The endothelium is the lining of cells within blood vessels, and these cells can be damaged from oxidative stress. Due to CoQ10’s function as an antioxidant, it can help reduce or prevent this blood vessel damage.
Coenzyme Q10 also has been shown to directly reduce blood pressure significantly. As little as 60mg twice a day can lower the systolic (higher number for blood pressure) by as much as 17 points, and the diastolic (lower number) by 7 points.
Other areas in which Coenzyme Q10 has been shown to be beneficial include brain health and in cancer treatment. Studies have shown that the aging brain has lower levels of CoQ10. In patients with Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and post-stroke, severe deficiencies have been noted. Supplementation has proven effective in reducing or delaying some of these symptoms. In cancer, some studies indicate up to a 40% improvement in end-stage cancers, and some small-scale studies indicate a role in prevention.
Coenzyme Q10 is a very versatile supplement and should be considered one of the best supplements we can take.