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NMU 77 – Drugs That Deplete CoQ10 and Why It Matters

Nutrition / Natural Medicine Update No. 77 (January 8, 2017)

with Dr. James Meschino


Research Topic: Drugs That Deplete CoQ10 and Why It Matters

Source: Multiple Source (see References Below)


Coenzyme Q10 (or CoQ10) is a vitamin-like substance that your body makes and needs. CoQ10 is required by all the body cells to help convert food into energy. It acts a shuttle service that carries hydrogen electrons down the cell’s step-down transformer system within the energy factory of the cell known as the mitochondria. This is how the body cells generate over 90% of their energy. So, if a CoQ10 deficiency arises, it’s like removing a couple of pistons from your car ‘s engine. It can no longer fire on all cylinders. The result is less available energy and horsepower. The same thing happens in the body. A CoQ10 deficiency results in less energy production within the cells of the body – a type of power shortage.This can be particularly problematic in the heart muscle, which needs to constantly produce energy for the heart muscle to keep contracting with optimal force with every beat. As such, a CoQ10 deficiency can easily lead to heart failure, whereby the heat pump gets weaker and weaker over time, resulting in fluids backing up in the lungs as well as in the extremities. Congestive heart failure is a serious condition and is the leading cause of hospital admissions in people over the age of 65 and the long-term prognosis is usually not good.

So, it may interest you to know that as we get older our bodies make less CoQ10. By the time we are 45 to 50 years old we make less than half the amount we made in our 20’s and the heart muscle often reflects this 50% depleted state. This is likely a factor that increases the risk of congestive heart failure as we age (not the only factor), and as such, many nutritional medicine experts, including myself, feel that people should take a CoQ10 supplement each day after age 40 years of age- 30-60 mg is probably sufficient for most people.

But what is also unique to the story is that recent studies show that certain drugs further deplete the body of CoQ10, whereby higher CoQ10 doses are required to compensate for the further depletion of CoQ10 status, and associated risk of congestive heart failure. The main drugs that deplete CoQ10 include:

1. Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs – they actually block the synthesis of CoQ10 in the body. These included drugs such as lovastatin, simvastatin, pravastatin etc. (Lipitor, Crestor)

2. Gemfibrozil – used to lower triglycerides, it also reduces CoQ10 status.

3. Certain drugs used to manage high blood sugar such as tolazamide and glyburide.

4.  Beta-blockers used to manage high blood pressure.

All these drugs can deplete CoQ10 levels, according to published research studies.

In my view, people over the age of 45 years, should consider taking 30-60 mg of CoQ10 daily to offset the age-related decline in CoQ10 synthesis, and individuals taking any of the CoQ10-depleting drugs mentioned in this report should discuss with their doctor the merits of taking 90-100 mg per day of CoQ10 to help prevent drug side effects linked to CoQ10 deficiency, including congestive heart failure.

I have included the references for this information in the text below.


  1. Kaikkonen J, Nyyssonen K, Tuomainen TP, et al.: Determinants of plasma coenzyme Q10 in humans. Federation of European Biochemical Societies Letters 443(2): 163-166, 1999.
  2. Thibault A, Samid D, Tompkins AC, et al.: Phase I study of lovastatin, an inhibitor of the mevalonate pathway, in patients with cancer. Clinical Cancer Research 2(3): 483-491, 1996.
  3. Pepping J: Coenzyme Q. American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy 56: 519-521, 1999.


Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,

Dr. Meschino

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