Supplement Focus on Coenzyme-Q-10

    Co-Q-10 (Coenzyme-Q10) is a vitamin-like compound present in all cells. It occurs naturally in the body and it is found in highest amounts in the mitochondria, the part of the cell where energy is created.

    Co-Q-10 levels are highest in the hardest-working tissues of the body, especially in the heart. As we get older, the amount of Co-Q-10 that the body produces decreases. Levels of Co-Q-10 are particularly low in people who suffer from heart disease, and low levels of this compound could lead to impaired cardiac function in patients with borderline congestive heart failure.

    Numerous studies have shown that Co-Q-10 has a positive effect on heart and artery health. Controlled trials have demonstrated its remarkable ability to improve heart function, angina, and high blood pressure, especially among older people. Along with carnitine, Co-Q-10 helps the heart function more efficiently.

    If you have decided to take statins because you have already had a heart attack or because you are at high risk and feel it is worth it anyway, you really ought to take a supplement of the antioxidant Co-Q-10 (although always check with your doctor if you are taking other medication). This is because, in addition to reducing cholesterol production in the liver, statins also interfere with Co-Q-10. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that this could explain why muscle fatigue and pain are major statin side effects.

    If you are on Co-Q-10 for congestive heart failure, you should not stop taking it suddenly. Certain drugs, such as those used to lower cholesterol or blood sugar levels, can also reduce the effects of Co-Q-10. It can change the way that the body responds to warfarin (a blood-thinning medication) and insulin, so it’s a good idea to get advice from your doctor before you begin taking it. We have asked Dr. Steele about Natural Alternatives to Warfarin.

    Co-Q-10 is found in oily fish (such as salmon and tuna), organ meats (such as liver), and whole grains. It is also available as a supplement.

    If you’ve ever taken Co-Q-10 as a supplement, you may have noticed that different names are used: some labels have ubiquinone, others ubiquinol. Many simply say coenzyme-Q-10, which can make things even more confusing. Coenzyme-Q10 is a general term that encompasses both ubiquinone and ubiquinol. Ubiquinone is the oxidized form of Co-Q-10 and the more common form in which the compound is commercially available. Ubiquinol, the reduced form of Co-Q-10, is expensive to produce. This form of Co-Q-10 is the antioxidant form that neutralizes free radicals and decreases cellular damage.

    Ubiquinone does not have this antioxidant effect. Ubiquinol is more effective than ubiquinone in increasing blood levels of Co-Q-10, but it is less stable. Compare the prices between ubiquinone and ubiquinol to see which is more cost-effective. We had a quick look online.

    For more on the heart, read Patrick Holford's article Lower your Risk for Heart Disease and Nutrients for the heart by Dr. Elson Haas.

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