The last time you bought lotion or face cream you probably saw many advertising the addition of CoQ10 to make your skin moisturized and youthful. While that may one of CoQ10’s attributes, it does much more than that. CoQ10, also called ‘ubiquinol’ is an antioxidant that is used for cell growth and protection (including skin cells) from damage and plays an important role in metabolism. CoQ10 is found naturally in the body and in fish, meat, and whole grains.Our CoQ10 levels decrease as we age but if you’re in good health, you probably have more than enough for your body’s needs.
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The role of CoQ10 has been studied for many conditions:
- There is some evidence that perhaps CoQ10 supplements lower blood pressure slightly and that it relieves symptoms of congestive heart failure but this is always in the presence of certain other nutrients so the data is conflicting, at best.
- Good evidence is available indicating that high doses might benefit people with Parkinson’s or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. ‘High doses’ may be given by intravenous (IV) methods and would be under the supervision of a physician.
- CoQ10 is being studied as a therapy for migraines but so far the therapy takes too long to be of real use in most cases.
- Some people like to self-medicate CoQ10 in the hopes of increased physical performance but there is no evidence to support this claim.
Over-the counter supplements are generally safe but most likely ineffective. You may experience side effects including:
- abdominal pain or loss of appetite
- diarrhoea and nausea
- dizziness, headaches, and fatigue
- sensitivity to light
- An additional warning, CoQ10 is an anticoagulant and can make blood-thinning drugs, such as warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven), less effective thereby increasing risk of blood clot.
How to get your body to make more of CoQ10
One reason CoQ10 is being studied for potential use as a blood pressure and heart failure therapy is that the current medications, generally a class of drugs called statins – which are very effective for reducing cholesterol levels and preventing heart attack and stroke – increase the risk of diabetes and accelerates muscle loss.
Our body makes CoQ10 using the same enzyme(a protein molecule that catalyzes a biochemical reaction) that is also used to make cholesterol –the same enzyme that is blocked by statin medications. For a healthy person (and a person taking statins who hopes to be able to get off that medication someday) the way to get your body to make more of it’s own CoQ10 is by eating dark, leafy greens. Chlorophyll, the molecule plants use to absorb light to make energy, helps our body regenerate CoQ10. A few servings each day of dark, leafy greens full of chlorophyll may be the best way to maintain an optimal level of CoQ10 and to reduce your cholesterol naturally.
If you are taking a CoQ10 supplement it’s hopefully at the direction of your physician but for most us, it isn’t needed or recommended. Still, there are ways to get more of this antioxidant, boosting its bioavailability and protecting your cells from damage related to age and the environment. While you’re speaking you’re your physician about your medications and any supplements, please discuss the strong possibility of stopping supplementation through improved dietary choices so you can get the full benefit of this antioxidant. Your heart will thank you.
Dr. James Kneller treats atrial fibrillation, arrhythmia, and other heart conditions. He is an internationally recognized authority on cardiovascular health and personal development.