coq10CoQ10 – CO-ENZYME Q10 – Antioxidant Series
by Lynn Hinderliter CN, LDN

The “common” name for CoQ10 – we can safely assume this is some scientific “in” joke, I think – is Ubiquinone (the oxidized form) or Ubiquinol (the reduced form), words which have their roots in the Latin word for everywhere. The implication is that it is present everywhere in our bodies, and certainly this is true anywhere that energy production is a factor, i.e. at the cellular level.

This is where oxidative damage can also be the most destructive, therefore the presence of CoQ10 at this level where it can protect against  oxidation and support the processes of cellular regeneration, which need energy to take place, may be important not only in the prevention of disease, but in guarding against the acceleration of the aging process itself.

I quote from nutritional pioneer Abram, “Coenzyme Q 10. Dr. Karl Folkers discovered this substance, also called ubiquinone; toward the end of his long and distinguished career he regretted that he had not called it a vitamin. It is an odd vitamin since young people are able to make enough from the lower numbered ubiquinones such as Q 6 or Q 8 whereas older people and anyone ill is not able to make enough. It thus becomes a vitamin later in life and when one becomes ill. A few clinical studies have shown that in large doses it has anticancer properties especially for breast cancer. These range from 300 milligrams to 600 milligrams daily. “

This nutrient is an important player in the health of the heart. CoQ10 is present in high concentrations in the cells of the heart, and its major role is enabling  the cell to synthesize ATP, which is its main source of energy.

In other words, and put at its simplest, high levels of CoQ10 help the heart to keep on beating. Some significant studies using CoQ10 have been done in patients with cardiomyopathy,  a chronic disorder which affects the muscles of the heart: it may cause enlargement of the heart, arrhythmias, and other serious problems. One study using a group of patients who were steadily worsening, and expected to die, showed significant clinical improvement on being supplemented with CoQ10. (Proc. Nat’l. Acad. Sci. 1985).

As research advances, different forms of CoQ10 are being offered with differing claims for absorbability.  I would characterize them thus: 

  1. The powder CoQ10 or Ubiquinone, the fully oxidized form and the most commonly available.  This kind of CoQ10 is serviceable if taken with some accompanying fatty acids to help bio-availability.

  2. Such brands as Q-Sol, Q-Absorb, which contain the necessary lipids for better absorption

  3. The newest and potentially best absorbed form, Ubiquinol,  the active form Ubiquinone is converted to in the body, and which constitutes 90% of CoQ10 circulating in the body.

To paraphrase Orwell, they are all active, but some are more active than others.  Generally, they are priced accordingly.  You can compare here.

Dr. Robert J. Barry, of National Institute of Health repute, characterizes them thus:  up to the age of approximately 45, unless you are addressing a chronic or serious health condition, then the Ubiquinone form is perfectly adequate. After that age, when absorption is to a certain extent compromised by age and ill health, the Ubiquinol form may provide more benefit.

Research in 2005 is shedding more light on how CoQ10 may help.  Clay Semenkovich of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri does not accept the cholesterol/heart disease connection, but suggests that with age, the energy producing mechanisms in the mitochondria of the cells become less efficient.  This allows highly re-active oxygen species to leak into the blood stream, causing damage to the walls of the blood vessels.  http://www.nature.com/news/2005/050523/full/050523-7.html

One of the original clinical researchers into CoQ10’s role in cardiovascular health Dr. Per Langsjoen of Tyler TX, went so far as to speak of it as “the crucial factor in cellular bioenergetics and free radical quenching“.

In another study, the strength of the heart, along with other parameters of cardiac function, was greatly improved using CoQ10. It is a fact that most patients with cardiovascular problems are, when tested,  found to be deficient in CoQ10. This appears to be the case in people with high blood pressure also, both that they are initially found to be deficient in, and eventually benefit from supplementing with, CoQ10.

Now comes evidence to suggest that CoQ10 is possibly inhibited by certain antibiotics, antihypertensive drugs (particularly the beta-blockers) oral diabetic drugs and some psycho-therapeutic drugs, and certainly by all the Statin cholesterol lowering medications . In fact, the higher the dose of the statin drug, and the bigger the drop in your cholesterol, the greater the deficiency of CoQ 10 will be.

Here is a list:

TYPE OF DRUG CLASS SOME BRAND NAMES
Blood Pressure Medications Hydralazine
Thiazides
Beta-blockers
Clonidine/Methyldopa

Hydra-Zide, Diuril
Hygroton, Lopressor
Tenormin, Catpres
Aldomet
Cholesterol Lowering Drugs Statins
Gemfibrozil

Lovastatin
Mevocor
Lopid
Anti-diabetic Drugs Sulfonylureas
Biguanides

Orinase, Micronase
Glucatrol, Diabinese
Glucophage
Psychotherapeutic Drugs Phenothiazines
Tricyclic antidepressants
Haloperidol
Thorazine, Mellaril
Elavil, Limbitrol
Sinequan, Triavil
Haldol, Halperon

Any substance that lowers CoQ10 levels in the cell will affect the performance of the heart, and and cause the fatigue that is often a side-effect of these medications. Dr. Peter Langsjoen, who writes for www.redflagsdaily.com, states: ” I see people who have previously normal hearts who had high cholesterol and who were on statins for varying periods of time and have heart failure that cannot be explained by anything else.”

One cardiac website states (heart failure) is the leading cause of hospital admissions in the United States. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute estimates that over 4.7 million Americans have CHF and that about 400,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Over 200,000 Americans die of heart failure annually.)  http://www.advancedcardiac.com/hfclinic.htm#Some%20Facts%20And%20Figures

I remember CoEnzyme Q10 being attacked in Dr. Gott’s  newspaper column some years ago, and would like to quote Dr. Julian Whitaker’s reply to that attack:

Dear Dr. Gott,
At first I was incredulous, then alarmed by your comments on CoQ10.
I have been practicing medicine in California for twenty years, and have been dispensing, prescribing and recommending CoQ10 daily for over a decade …
CoQ10 is not a “non traditional” treatment of cardiomyopathy: it is the most powerful treatment of cardiomyopathy available.  It increases the survival rate of cardiomyopathy patients tenfold compared to the combined therapies of ACE inhibitors, diuretics and Lanoxin …
For your reader with cardiomyopathy, you need to set the record straight … to withhold this information from her is unreasonable, unethical and will facilitate her demise and potentially that of many others
signed, Dr. J.W.

Researchers are also alarmed by a connection between these statin drugs and painful conditions of neuropathy – see RESOURCES.

Interestingly, our ability to synthesize CoQ10 appears to diminish with age, and abnormally low levels of it have been found in the thymus glands of aging mice: this is significant because  the  thymus is essential to the functioning of the immune system. When the mice received supplemental CoQ10, the shrinking ceased, levels of antibodies rose, and the life span of the mice was extended. Studies of aging patients with heart problems, diabetes and cancer have shown alarmingly low levels of CoQ10 and the link with the immune system would, in my opinion, certainly merit supplementing with it, particularly in view of the fact that no side effects or toxicity have ever been encountered. In Denmark, they have reported really encouraging responses in patients with breast cancer using as high an amount as 390 mg daily, with no negative effects reported at all.

There is a study using 600 to 1200 mg per day for Huntington’s disease patients, at which level there were some reports of headache, heartburn, fatigue, and increased involuntary movements (Feigin et al., 1994) .  If you have diabetes, it might be wise to be cautious, since CoQ10 may change requirements for insulin.  About one person in a hundred may experience diarrhea, appetite loss, and nausea, and if that is the case, lowering the dose reverses the problem. 

Dr. Judy, of the Southeastern Institute of Biomedical Research in Bradenton, FL, has been conducting research into CoQ10 for nearly two decades.  He reports that studies on over 4200 people show that CoQ10 reduced heart problems in those already suffering from them, improved pumping and heart contraction, and reduced heart volume in almost 90% of those tested within between 24 and 90 days of starting to supplement them with from 100 to 250 mg per day.

In another study of 240 people with ischemic heart disease, 85% of those taking from 30 to 600 mg per day ( Lynn’s note – 600 is a VERY high dose!) showed results with lessening of resting angina and exercise induced ischemia.  Arrhythmias were also reduced by 50 to 100%.

Dr. Judy’s latest research has been in the area of cancer prevention:  this research was sparked because he and a fellow researcher noted that while they were treating patients for heart problems with CoQ10, a significant number of them had their cancer go into remission or tumors disappear. They  used  an existing  group of 32 prostate cancer sufferers. During the period of the study, no conventional treatments were administered. 600mg of CoQ10 daily was used, and while it takes some time for results to be noted, after 120 days PSA levels began to fall, and after a year, in 14 out of 20 volunteers, PSAs had dropped by 75% and prostate mass was decreased by 64%.

A 2005 study at the University of Miami ( sees RESOURCES for more) finds that CoQ10 in high doses restores the normal life cycle to cancer cells .  In other words, it restores programmed cell death. To quote from their press release:  “It is amazing that a benign compound, CoQ10, can cause the cancer cells to selectively kill themselves without harm to normal cells. Moreover, we have a novel topical delivery system that offers cancer patients an improved quality of life with a boost of energy.  Indeed, our team looks forward to one day bringing the benefit and hope of this technology to many cancer patients.”  

Dr. Whitaker’s book, Guide to Natural Healing, gives a number of other study examples and a search will turn them up in the hundreds:  this is a much researched and highly effective heart nutrient.

CoQ10 is naturally present in our cells, where it is essential for cellular respiration and energy production.

However, our supplies become depleted as we age, and replacing them from food is marginally practicable.  As an example, it would require two gallons of chopped spinach daily to provide 30 mgs of CoQ10.  Not only do we have less CoQ10 in our bodies as we age, but since it is a potent antioxidant, under conditions of oxidative stress – for example, pollution, smoking – available supplies of CoQ10 are used first to answer that need, and less of it is therefore available to supply the needs of the cell.  This sequence of events, where our body contains less of the nutrient through the natural process of aging,  increasing demands for it in its antioxidant role deplete our remaining supplies, and therefore less of it is available for essential energy production in the body’s cells, illustrates the vital role CoQ10 plays in heart disease.  It is the energy produced in the cells of our hearts that literally determines the efficiency of our heartbeat!

One of the original clinical researchers into CoQ10’s role in cardiovascular health Dr. Per Langsjoen of Tyler TX, went so far as to speak of it as the “crucial factor in cellular bioenergetics and free radical quenching”. At this stage, I’m sure no one will be surprised to learn that 100 mg of CoQ10 is the first thing I would supplement with if I had heart problems of any kind. to include high blood pressure.  A minimum dose of CoQ10 would be 30 mg. It appears to be even more effective if taken in conjunction with Vitamin E, but should in any event always be taken in conjunction with a form of fatty acids for maximum absorption.  There are CoQ10 products on the market now that are combined with the lipids necessary for best absorption, and while they cost a little more they may be the solution for people who do not wish to supplement with  additional EFAs.

Note:  Dr. Judy is also doing research with CoQ10 and Willi Prader babies that is showing promise.  This devastating neonatal problem has been virtually impossible to help.  See RESOURCES.

No serious side effects have been reported with CoQ10 therapy. Infrequently, some gastrointestinal discomfort, nausea, diarrhea, and appetite loss have been reported with high doses. There is also some evidence that it may act as a blood thinner in very high doses.  As yet, however, there have been no actual studies on the safety of the substance, so the usual caution in pregnancy and lactation applies.

Find the recommended supplements here

CoQ10 causes cancer cell death – study – http://www.med.miami.edu/news/view.asp?id=403

CoQ10 and Prader Willi  Syndrome – http://pws.org.au/coq10.html

Information on CoQ10 from the Micronutrient Center – http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/othernuts/coq10/index.html

Study – Progress on therapy of breast cancer with vitamin Q10 and the regression of metastases. – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=7612003&dopt=Abstract

Co-Enzyme Q10 and Migraine – http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0ISW/is_2003_Jan/ai_95676502

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