Coenzyme Q10 and Heart Disease, Anti-aging and Cancer
Coenzyme Q10 is a vitamin-like nutrient that is vital to the production of energy. As one of the electron carriers in the electron transport system, it helps cells utilize oxygen. If you have ever wondered how we get energy from food, or why we have to breathe oxygen, it is because the body strips food of electrons and transports them to an electron acceptor, which is oxygen. Co Q10 facilitates this process, providing one of the “spark plugs” for the creation of cellular energy. Without Co Q10, we would not have enough energy to fuel the physiological reactions we need to survive (Folkers, K. & Wolaniuk, A. Drugs Exp Clin Res. 1985; 11(8): 539-45.) Dr. Folkers notes that Co Q10 levels falling to 75% may cause illness, whereas falling to 35% may cause death. (Folkers, Ibid.) There is evidence showing that low Co Q10 levels can lead to death within six months (Statistical data support prediction of death within 6 months on low levels of Coenzyme Q10 and other entities. Clin Investig 1993; 71(8 Suppl):S137-39.)
Coenzyme Q10 concentration in the mitochondria (sometimes called the “powerhouse” of the cell) is not believed to be saturated, which is one of the reasons researchers think that supplementation is having beneficial effects (Clin Investig 1993; 71(8 Suppl):S66-70.) Numerous therapeutic effects of Coenzyme Q10 have been reported, most notably in areas where oxygen transport is critical, for instance heart disease, aging and periodontal disease. Since an adequate supply of oxygen is necessary for tissue repair and immune function, many applications have been reported in these areas. Additionally, Coenzyme Q10 has therapeutic potential because of its antioxidant properties (fights damaging free radicals.) Coenzyme Q10 has a wide variety of functions and applications in the body.
Clinical Applications / Research
Clinical applications include cardiovascular disease, aging, chronic illness, memory, Alzheimer’s disease, periodontal disease, antioxidant, breast cancer, high blood pressure, brain function and energy production.
Cardiovascular: The ability that Coenzyme Q10 has for increasing oxygen delivery and energy supply contributes to its reputation for supporting the cardiovascular system in clinical trials, including mitral valve prolapse, angina, cardiomyopathy, hypertension (Folkers, K. et al., Treatment of essential hypertension with Coenzyme Q10. Mol Aspects Med 1994; 15(Suppl):S265-72) and congestive heart failure (Morisco, C. et al. Effect of Coenzyme Q10 therapy in patients with congestive heart failure: a long-term multicentre randomized study.) In one clinical trial, 150 mg/day of Coenzyme Q10 was administered for 10 months to two patients with mitochondrial encephalomyopathy, and results showed a significant improvement in oxygen consumption, in the ability to reach a higher workload and improvement of mitochondrial function (Neurology 1992; 42(6):1203.) It should be noted that some cholesterol-lowering drugs and beta blockers can reduce levels of Co Q10, whereas Co Q10 supplementation has been shown to reduce the drug-induced fatigue experienced by people taking beta blockers (Biomedical and Clinical Aspects of Coenzyme Q10 Vol.4. Folkers, K. & Yakamura, Y. (eds.) Elsevier Science Publ. Amsterdam, 1984, pp.263-270.)
Aging: With its ability to prevent mitochondrial damage and act as an antioxidant, “it is interesting to speculate that Coenzyme Q10 might play a fundamental role in decelerating aging.” (Lee, W.H. et al. Ph.D. Coenzyme Q10. Keats Publ., New Canaan, Connecticut, 1987.) Research suggests that Co Q10 levels decline in illness, environmental stress, and aging, and these deficiencies could play a role in the age-related decline in immune system function (Folkers; Bliznakov, E.G. Immunological senescence in mice and its reversal by Coenzyme Q10. Mech Aging Dev Mar. 1978; 7(3): 189-97.) In one study, Co Q10 was able to reverse the age-related deterioration of the immune system in mice (Bliznakov ibid.)
Memory/Alzheimer’s: One of the theories of impaired memory involves lack of oxygen utilization by the brain, a function that is supported by Co Q10. The research that has been conducted on Coenzyme Q10 suggests that sufficient Coenzyme Q10 must be administered for a long enough period (usually 4-12 weeks), to achieve results, which is consistent with a buildup of enzyme activity. For instance, 60 mg of Coenzyme Q10 was administered for 6 months, along with Vitamin B-6 and Iron, to a 49-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s disease, who had a one-year history of progressive memory impairment. It’s believed that electron activity is reduced in Alzheimer’s patients, and the lack of energy fuel may be implicated in furthering development of the tangles seen in the nerves in Alzheimer’s (Neurology 1990; 40:1302-03.) Coenzyme Q10, of course, supports the production of electron activity and delivery of energy fuel to the nerves.
Post-treatment, there was increased blood flow in the brain, faster alpha wave activity, and “her mental state improved to almost normal after 6 months of therapy…symptoms progressed with cessation of the therapy and improved with its resumption.” (Wilkinson, E.G., et al. Bioenergetics in clinical medicine. Res Commun Chem Pathol Pharmacol 1975; 12:111.)
Periodontal Conditions: Coenzyme Q10 “has demonstrated excellent results in clinical trials on periodontal disease…The studies have been positive in showing a speedup of healing time, reduced pockets, and improvements in other factors associated with gum disease.” (Mayell, M. The Natural Health First Aid Guide. 1994. Pocket Books, NY, NY. P. 298.) In one trial, Coenzyme Q10 elicited post surgical healing that was two to three times faster than usual in 7 patients with advanced periodontal disease (Wilkinson, E.G. et al. Bioenergetics in clinical medicine. Res Commun Chem Pathol Pharmacol 1975; 12:111.)
Antioxidant: In addition to being associated with energy production, Co Q10 is a powerful antioxidant. It has the ability to decrease the amount of harmful free radical activity in the body. (Grieb, P. Antioxidant systems – physiology and pharmacotherapy trends. Mater Med Pol 1992 24(4):217-222.)
Breast Cancer: There are not many studies that have been conducted in this area, however, research done by Lockwood et al indicates that there is some evidence that Co Q10 may be helpful in supporting the treatment for breast cancer (Lockwood K., et al. Progress on therapy of breast cancer with Coenzyme Q10 and the regression of metastases. Biochem Biophyus Res Commun Jul 1995; 6; 212(1):172-77.)
Other Uses: Obviously, there are many clinical applications for Coenzyme Q10. Some of the benefits this nutrient offers are in supporting various physiological functions and organ systems, including: generally increasing oxygen delivery to tissues; heart function, brain function, periodontal health, antioxidant status, memory, increased blood flow, blood pressure, mitochondrial function (energy production) and tissue healing. There are so many aspects of importance in Co Q10, that many people believe it should be included in the category of conditionally essential nutrients.
Note: Dr. J. Meschino has combined Co Q10 with a standardized grade of Hawthorn and the bioflavonoid Quercetin in the creation of the Nutra Therapeutics supplement “Cardio Essentials.” Hawthorn contains specialized flavonoid compounds known as procyanidins (i.e., Vitexin) that dilate coronary blood vessels and increase cyclic AMP levels in cardiac muscle. Like Co Q10, Hawthorn has been shown to boost ATP production in cardiac muscle, helping to reverse congestive heart failure and other cardiomyopathies.
Quercetin possesses antiplatelet clotting properties and is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
In the prevention and management of heart disease and dementia as we age (post 50 years old), the addition of Cardio Essentials to the intake of Nutra Therapeutics Multi Vitamin and Mineral should be considered. The Multi provides important levels of antioxidants, B-vitamins, calcium, magnesium to help prevent heart disease and deterioration of brain function. After age 50, the addition of Co Q10, Hawthorn and Quercetin to an anti-aging program makes good sense.