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Posted by: Scott Stewart, MSAc., Dipl.Ac., LAc
It’s very likely that your doctor didn’t tell you this, but if you are taking a stain drug, especially long-term use, it’s very important that you also supplement with CoQ10 (ubiquinol). The reason for this is due to the mechanism by which statin drugs lower cholesterol.
Statin drugs lower cholesterol by inhibiting the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase, which converts to HMG-CoA, and then mevalonate (from mevalonic acid); which is the precursor to ubiquinone (CoQ10) and cholesterol.
Past research demonstrates that by inhibiting the biosynthesis of cholesterol you disrupt the endogenous production of CoQ10,[i] which is a vital nutrient needed for cardiovascular health. In 2003, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a report that warned the public and doctors of statin induced CoQ10 depletion, and doctors should recommend their patients supplement with CoQ10.[ii]
If a person, especially over the age of 45, is already CoQ10 deficient and they’re taking a statin, there is a greater cause for concern for developing myocardial dysfunction. CoQ10 deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, particularly congestive heart Failure.[iii]
CoQ10 functions as an antioxidant, so it reduces oxidative stress by attacking pro-inflammatory cytokines. It has been found to inhibit the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and thereby decreasing the risk of atherosclerosis. It also plays a crucial role in the production of cellular energy within the mitochondria, and for this reason is very important for cells with a high energy requirements like those found in the heart.[iv]
Previous studies have also shown that CoQ10 supplementation increases serum CoQ10 levels that have been reduced by statin drugs,[v] Research has also shown that CoQ10 decreases blood viscosity and reduces hypertension.[vi],[vii]
Even though CoQ10 can be found in dietary sources, the quantity of the nutrient is not sufficient to elicit a therapeutic response. Therefore, it is required to supplement orally with a high quality form of CoQ10 available from your physician.
There are two forms of CoQ10 available to consumers, ubiquinone and ubiquinol. It’s recommended that you take the ubiquinol form, because it's the form your body uses and is more easily absorbed.
One last note, DO NOT supplement CoQ10 on your own, because there are known drug – supplement interactions, and effectiveness is dose dependent; so please consult with your acupuncturist on these matters, or your treating physician.
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[i] Smith, Colleen M., Allan D. Marks, M. A. Lieberman, Dawn B. Marks, and Dawn B. Marks. Marks' Basic Medical Biochemistry: A Clinical Approach. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2005. 635-43. Print.
[ii] Langsjoen PH1, Langsjoen AM. The clinical use of HMG CoA-reductase inhibitors and the associated depletion of coenzyme Q10. A review of animal and human publications. Biofactors. 2003;18(1-4):101-11.
[iii] KARL FOLKERS*, SURASI VADHANAVIKIT*, AND SVEND A. MORTENSEN. Biochemical rationale and myocardial tissue data on the effective therapy of cardiomyopathy with coenzyme Q10. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1985 Feb;82(3):901-4.
[iv] Kumar A1, Kaur H, Devi P, Mohan V. Role of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) in cardiac disease, hypertension and Meniere-like syndrome. Pharmacol Ther. 2009 Dec;124(3):259-68. doi: 10.1016/j.pharmthera.2009.07.003. Epub 2009 Jul 25.
[v] A.M. Bargossi, G. Grossi, P.L. Fiorella, A. Gaddi, R. Di Giulio, M. Battino. Exogenous CoQ10 supplementation prevents plasma ubiquinone reduction induced by HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors. Molecular Aspects of Medicine.
Volume 15, Supplement 1, 1994, Pages s187–s193.
[vi] Langsjoen P1, Langsjoen P, Willis R, Folkers K. Treatment of essential hypertension with coenzyme Q10. Mol Aspects Med. 1994;15 Suppl:S265-72.
[vii] Burke BE1, Neuenschwander R, Olson RD. Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of coenzyme Q10 in isolated systolic hypertension. South Med J. 2001 Nov;94(11):1112-7.