Second Opinion: CoQ10 Benefits

ByCommentary<br>By Nicholas Regush

Jan. 24, 2001 -- Come on cardiologists! Crack open the medical literature on coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, a vital nutrient that produces energy in the body. Start reading up on how this powerful substance may be able to help patients with heart problems.

Neurologists, too! You also have been slow to respond to tantalizing data suggesting CoQ10 might help fight off degenerative brain diseases and even help slow down the aging process.

What are you waiting for? The research may be incomplete but there’s enough out there to get the brain cells firing.

It would be nice if doctors took a keener interest in this nutrient, because more patients are probably hearing about it these days and heading straight for the health food store or pharmacy where it is sold as a nutritional supplement.

But the science on CoQ10, while riveting, is complex and needs careful sorting. Some informed medical opinion may be valuable.

CoQ10 is manufactured by the body and is a vital nutrient. It helps cells to produce energy. But when we age, we lose much of our supply of CoQ10, particularly in the heart. At the age of 80, for example, levels of the nutrient are cut by more than half.

CoQ10 Helps Heart Surgery Patients

About 30 years ago, medical researchers began noticing patients with heart failure also had lost much of their supply of CoQ10. Supplementing them with the nutrient led to normalized levels and also clinical improvements in many patients. Further studies have backed up this important finding.

Research conducted at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, and funded by the National Heart Foundation of Australia, has shown that CoQ10 may be very valuable to those who undergo heart surgery. Investigators found that elderly heart bypass patients given 300 milligrams of CoQ10 (considered a high dose) recovered better and more quickly than those on placebo. The CoQ10 helped the heart muscle to pump more efficiently and to better tolerate stress.

A series of studies conducted in Japan have reached similar conclusions. Additional research points to CoQ10’s ability to help reduce complications and further heart problems after a patient has experienced a first heart attack.

It has also been shown that CoQ10 can help relax the heart muscle. If further research is convincing, then this in itself may prove to be a major boon for cardiology. And for us all.

As we age, the heart loses its ability to relax. And less relaxation means it can’t fill itself with enough blood to pump efficiently. The payoff is: better pumping with CoQ10.

That better pumping may also have an indirect effect: a modest reduction of blood pressure.

Angina Patients Also May Benefit

Then there’s the preliminary research on angina — a temporary chest pain or a sensation of pressure in the chest that occurs when the heart isn’t receiving enough oxygen — showing that patients on the nutrient appear to do better on exercise tolerance tests. Again, this may be due, in part, to overall strengthening of the heart.

The cardiologist who hasn’t read up on these and many other CoQ10 studies should hit the search button on the computer and get busy.

Nutrient May Prevent Oxidation, A Key To Neurodegenerative Diseases

Ditto for the neurologist who hasn’t bothered looking at a recent study showing how CoQ10 is known to prevent oxidation, a complex process that damages cells and tissues. Granted, CoQ10 brain studies have not kept pace with the pioneering heart studies but the effects of oxidation on brain cells is not exactly a minor issue in science these days.

Roland Stocker at the Heart Research Institute in Sydney has come up with data that is relevant to the interests of neurologists. His team has shown that CoQ10 has the ability to target a nasty substance involved in oxidation known as “peroxynitrite.” What’s important for consideration here is that this substance is, for example, implicated in chronic inflammation, which is a hot topic in research on Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.

Badly needed are long-term studies on the use of CoQ10 to help fight a variety of brain illnesses.

And until we do have these and more long-term heart studies involving CoQ10, we won’t really know how well the nutrient works over the long run, the dosages required to do the job and what the side-effects might be.

Time is being wasted!

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