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NMU 88 – Antioxidant Supplement Shown to Improve Vascular Function: Reversing Aging Blood Vessels

Nutrition / Natural Medicine Update No. 88 (April 25, 2018)

with Dr. James Meschino


ResearchTopic:  Antioxidant Supplement Shown to Improve Vascular Function: Reversing Aging Blood Vessels

Source: American Heart Association Journal “Hypertension” (April 2018)


Over the years various studies have investigated the role of antioxidant supplements with respect to their ability to reduce heart attacks and cardiovascular disease. Experimental studies and some human observational studies suggest that antioxidants such as vitamin E, vitamin C, and beta-carotene can help reduce the risk of heart attacks and circulatory problems. These antioxidants reduce free radical damage to the bad cholesterol (LDL-cholesterol) which makes this form of cholesterol less inclined to stick to the walls of the arteries and cause narrowing (atherosclerosis). We know that cholesterol-clogged arteries are a major risk factor in many heart attack and stroke problems, as well as causing poor circulation to the feet, kidneys, eyes and other tissues. However, human clinical trials using these antioxidant supplements to prevent heart disease have not shown convincing results thus far.

But a study published in the American Heart Association journal “Hypertension”, in April of 2018, has shown that the antioxidant supplement known as Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), significantly improved vascular function in healthy older adults. According to the researchers, a novel form of CoQ10 (MitoQ) reversed vascular changes by the equivalent of 15-20 years in these older adults, after just six weeks of daily supplementation at a dosage of 20 mg per day. By comparison, those taking the placebo experienced no improvement in vascular function. Here’s how researcher, Dr. Rossman, explained the remarkable reversal in vascular function produced by CoQ10 supplementation:

The researchers found that when taking the CoQ10 supplement, dilation of subjects’ arteries improved by 42 percent, making their blood vessels, at least by that measure, look like those of someone 15 to 20 years younger. An improvement of that magnitude, if sustained, is associated with about a 13 percent reduction in heart disease, according to study researcher, Dr. Rossman said. The study also showed that the improvement in dilation was due to a reduction in oxidative stress (free radical damage). As Dr. Rossman explains, “Blood vessels grow stiff with age, largely as a result of oxidative stress, and the excess production of metabolic by-products called free radicals which can damage the inner lining of blood vessels (endothelium) and impair its function. During youth, our bodies produce enough antioxidants to quench those free radicals. But with age, the balance tips, as mitochondria and other cellular processes produce excess free radicals and the body’s antioxidant defenses can’t keep up.”

It’s known that CoQ10 is an antioxidant that quenches free radicals in the area around the cell’s mitochondria (or energy factory) – an area of the cell where many free radicals are generated.  It’s also well documented that the body’s CoQ10 synthesis declines with age, which decreases the body’s ability to quench free radicals. As well, previous studies have shown that CoQ10 supplementation improved blood circulation in the arteries of diabetics by increasing the release of nitric oxide from the artery wall. The lining of arteries normally secretes nitric oxide to dilate (or opening up) blood vessels, helping to prevent heart attacks and to maintain more optimal circulation.

In the study in the journal, Hypertension researchers used a novel type of CoQ10 called MitoQ, (which targets the mitochondria specifically, so I think it’s worth keeping an eye on future studies using this form of CoQ10). Most anti-aging experts suggest taking at least 30-60 mg of CoQ10 per day after the age 40 or 45 to help preserve cellular energy production and maintain antioxidant function, which may possibly help prevent congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, and possibly Parkinson’s disease as one ages.

I’ve included the research article reference in the text below, along with a couple links to other impressive CoQ10 research studies that you may find to be of interest.


1. Matthew J. Rossman, Jessica R. Santos-Parker, Chelsea A.C. Steward, Nina Z. Bispham, Lauren M. Cuevas, Hannah L. Rosenberg, Kayla A. Woodward, Michel Chonchol, Rachel A. Gioscia-Ryan, Michael P. Murphy, Douglas R. Seals. Chronic Supplementation With a Mitochondrial Antioxidant (MitoQ) Improves Vascular Function in Healthy Older Adults. Hypertension, 2018; HYPERTENSIONAHA.  10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.117.10787





Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great

Dr. Meschino

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