Mark Twain once remarked, “Get your facts first, then distort them as you please!” Facts are easy to distort in medicine, particularly when talking about coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). So here are 10 vital things to know about this important enzyme. And what unintended consequences occur when humans start playing God.
1 – What is CoQ10? It’s often referred to as the “spark plug of our motors.” Cars run on gas. Our 37 trillion cells get their energy from ATP (adenosine triphosphate), but we cannot make ATP without CoQ10.
The Doctor Game
2 – Studies show that our body has the highest amount of CoQ10 during our 20s. But then it starts to decrease. Several medical problems may result, such as fatigue, muscle cramps, weakness, emotional troubles and hypertension. Dr. Karl Folker, one of the early pioneers of CoQ10, says that a 25% deficiency in CoQ10 is sufficient to cause illness, and a 75% loss can result in death.
3 – The heart is a remarkable organ as it beats 100,000 times every 24 hours and 2.5 billion times by age 70, without a single holiday. Consequently, it requires a huge amount of energy. So nature has placed more CoQ10 in the heart than any other organ for this reason.
4 – Today millions of North Americans are taking cholesterol-lowering drugs (CLDs). But this poses a problem. CLDs work by inhibiting an enzyme that produces cholesterol. But this same enzyme is also required for the manufacture of CoQ10 so by taking CLDs less CoQ10 is produced. It’s worrying that CLDs rob the heart’s muscle of up to 40% of CoQ10! This is the best example I know where humans, by tinkering with nature, trigger unintended consequences. Beta blockers for blood pressure and antidepressant drugs can also decrease CoQ10 levels.
5 – Some researchers believe that by robbing the heart of CoQ10 year after year CLDs may be setting the stage for an epidemic of heart failure. Currently heart failure is the fastest growing cardiovascular problem in North America, partly due to an aging population and possibly an unintended effect of CLDs.
6 – 25% of cholesterol is located in the brain as it too requires a good supply of energy. The use of CLDs results in another unintended consequence as CLDs pass through the blood brain barrier. This delivers a double whammy to the brain by affecting cholesterol metabolism and decreasing CoQ10. This explains why some people on CLDs complain of emotional problems. In rare cases, it has caused total amnesia, cured only by discontinuing this medication.
7 – In my travels I’ve found that large numbers of people on CLDs are not taking CoQ10. If you are one of those, you should discuss this matter with your doctor. Remember, today there’s a tendency for physicians to prescribe increasing doses of CLDs, and the greater the amount, the more need for CoQ10.
8 – Studies show patients with heart failure have low levels of CoQ10. Fortunately, CoQ10 supplements can increase the strength of cardiac muscle in patients suffering from this problem. And a report in the American Journal of Cardiology, showed that a daily dose of 150 milligrams of CoQ10 decreases the incidence of angina by 50%.
9 – Half of overweight patients have low levels of CoQ10. Speeding up metabolism with Co Q10 is a safe way to help weight loss. CoQ10 is also a good antioxidant and some evidence shows it may be helpful for those with macular degeneration and diabetes. A lack of antioxidants has been associated with aging.
10 – Remember, it’s energy that makes our world function day after day, and without it civilization as we know it will quickly end. Since CoQ10 is the body’s main source of fuel, the more we know about it the better. It’s available in Health Food Stores.
As Benjamin Disraeli, Britain’s Prime Minister, counselled, “As a general rule, most successful people are ones who have the best information.”
So I hope Mark Twain would be pleased with these non-distorted facts.
—W. Gifford-Jones MD