Second Opinion: CoQ10 Benefits

ByABC News
January 24, 2001, 10:23 AM

Jan. 24 -- 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 theres 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 CoQ10s ability to help reduce complications and further heart problems after a patient has experienced a first heart attack.