The combination of CoQ10 and statins can be risky.
That is why they are often discussed together in heart health literature. Both of these substances are frequently prescribed for the promotion of heart health. But that isn’t the connection.
Statins are considered the most effective drugs for lowering LDL cholesterol. They also reduce inflammation and plaque. It is no wonder – then - that they are increasingly prescribed to many millions of people in the US alone.
Statins reduce cholesterol by interfering with the mevalonate pathway – which is simply the pathway through which cholesterol is produced. By interrupting cholesterol production, statins reduce the amount of LDL cholesterol.
It is this mevalonate pathway that is the connection between CoQ10 and statins.
The same process that is responsible for the production of cholesterol is also necessary for the synthesis of CoQ10.
Statins block the synthesis of both cholesterol and CoQ10 by inhibiting the enzyme HMG CoA reductase. Inhibiting HMG CoA reductase decreases mevalonate, the precursor of both cholesterol and CoQ10.
So the unfortunate connection between CoQ10 and statins is this… If you are taking statins you are also limiting your body’s synthesis of CoQ10.
Why is this so important? Because...
We will boil down the heart health effects of CoQ10 to two items. The first is that CoQ10 is absolutely essential to the production of cellular energy. The second has to do with CoQ10's anti-oxidant properties.
When we talk about the relationship between CoQ10 and statins in the context of energy production, we are not talking about the fact that all of us would like to feel more energetic. I hate the fact that I don’t have as much energy as I did when I was younger.
The production of cellular energy is much more fundamental than that. And it is not a luxury. Sufficient cellular energy is absolutely essential to proper health.
So what does CoQ10 have to do with cellular energy?
As its name implies, CoenzymeQ10 is a coenzyme. That means it is a necessary precursor to the proper functioning of certain enzymes. In this case enzymes associated with the mitochondria.
The mitochondria are sometimes referred to as cellular power plantsbecause they generate most of a cell’s supply of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is a primary source of chemical energy.
In other words… our cells need ATP to supply energy. Without CoQ10 there is no ATP.
This becomes very important to heart health when we consider that cells with high metabolic demands are particularly sensitive to low energy supplies...
Cells like cardiac muscle cells (myocytes).
Cardiac muscles require high levels of energy to function properly. This has led many researchers and holistic doctors to consider CoQ10 as a link in the development of congestive heart failure. Of course the debates continue around this conclusion. Some studies claim that supplementing with CoQ10 has no effect on reducing the symptoms of CHF. Other studies demonstrate a significant improvement.
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Another connection between CoQ10 and statins is that both reduce LDL cholesterol risk but in different ways.
Statins – as we have already seen – reduce LDL cholesterol risk by limiting the amount of LDL that is produced.
CoQ10 reduces the risk by preventing the oxidation of LDL.CoQ10 has been shown to be a powerful antioxidant... many times more effective than vitamin-E. This has special application for heart health when it comes to the oxidation of LDL.
Oxidation of LDL is believed to be an important step in the development of coronary heart disease as is evident from the following statement...
Intimal oxidation of LDL is considered an important early event in atherogenesis, and certain antioxidants are antiatherogenic.
The study went on to state that supplementing with a combination of CoQ10 and vitamin-E reduced the oxidation of LDL which is associated with the development of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease.
Compared with controls, VitE+CoQ10 supplementation decreased atherosclerosis at the aortic root and arch and descending thoracic aorta to an extent that increased with increasing distance from the aortic root.
CoQ10 significantly inhibited atherosclerosis at aortic root and arch, whereas VitE decreased disease at aortic root only. Thus … VitE+CoQ10 supplements are more antiatherogenic than CoQ10 or VitE supplements alone.
Click here to read the abstract in full.
So CoQ10 and statins attack the same problem but in different ways. Statins reduce cholesterol production. CoQ10 – along with vitamin-E - reduces LDL oxidation.
But statins hinder CoQ10 production.
So statins – while suppressing LDL production –also hinder CoQ10 production which theoretically could increase the risk of LDL oxidation.
There is a bit of irony in there.
The topic of CoQ10 and statins is one that Dr. Peter Langsjoen knows well. Dr Langsjoen is a cardiologist in Tyler, TX who has been studying CoQ10 for much of his career.
In his article entitled: The clinical use of HMG CoA-reductase inhibitors (statins) and the associated depletion of the essential co-factor coenzyme Q10; a review of pertinent human and animal data he states the evidence this way…
The peer-reviewed scientific evidence supports the following findings:
Dr Langsjoen feels so strongly about the adverse connection between CoQ10 and statins that he advocates putting a warning in the labeling of all statins sold in the US. He says that warning should read...
HMG CoA reductase inhibitors block the endogenous biosynthesis of an essential cofactor, coenzyme Q10, required for energy production. A deficiency of coenzyme Q10 is associated with impairment of myocardial function, with liver dysfunction and with myopathies (including cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure).
All patients taking HMG CoA reductase inhibitors should therefore be advised to take 100 to 200 mg per day of supplemental coenzyme Q10.
If CoQ10 deficiency is tied to coronary heart disease, cardiomyopathy, and congestive heart failure – to name a few conditions... then we should be concerned about depleting our CoQ10 stores with statins.
Because of the data demonstrating that statins reduce the risk of heart disease we should not be quick to stop using statins where needed. However we should be aware of the side effects of statins… including CoQ10 depletion.
Supplementing with CoQ10 is free from adverse side effects. Many doctors support its use, especially when taking statins. In light of the adverse relationship between CoQ10 and statins… supplementing with CoQ10 is a good idea.
Statin use is growing. It is likely that you use statins or know somebody who does.
What is your experience? Has it been good or bad?
If you would like to tell the rest of us your story we would love to hear it. How? By creating your own webpage right here at Optimal-Heart-Health.com. It’s easy and it’s fun. Remember... this is your story.
Would you like to tell us the great victories you have had with statin therapy? Or would you like to share about the pain and the side effects you – or someone you know - has experienced? It would help others to know what to expect and what to watch out for.
We look forward to hearing from you.
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