What is CoQ10?
CoQ10 is the short form for CoEnzyme Q-10. There are also some other terms for it such as, ubiquinone, Vitamin Q10 etc.; the different names are due to the fact that it can exist in different oxidative states within the body (If you guessed that one of its use is as an antioxidant, you are absolutely correct!). For the sake of a simplicity moving forward, I will continue to use CoQ10 as a short form for CoEnzyme Q10 within this post.
CoQ10 is an enzyme that is made naturally by our body and can be found in our cells. To side-track a bit, enzymes
are important components within our body that serves as a catalyst towards different reactions that occur within our body. Coenzymes, on the other hand, helps enzymes work better in the functions mentioned above.
CoQ10 is crucial for aiding your cells with energy production within your body, which is important for cell repair, cell growth, and other important bodily functions within your body. CoQ10 supplementation is necessary if you have a Coenzyme Q10 deficiency. Symptoms of CoQ10 deficiency may include heart failure, chest pain, and an elevated blood pressure. Depending on the cause of the deficiency, supplementing with CoQ10 or increasing dietary intake may alleviate the symptoms and help the situation.
As mentioned above, one of the other functions of CoQ10 is to serve as an antioxidant within your body. It aids in preventing any harmful effects on our DNA cell walls and prevents oxidative harm from occurring to our cells.
You may have read about CoQ10 being beneficial in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and in patients with chest pain, muscle control issues. There are also evidences indicating CoQ10 helps with aging process and aids with multiple heart issues such as preventing heart disease, the side effects of chemotherapy (more about this below), and coronary artery disease etc.
Where can I get sufficient amounts of CoQ10? Is it only available as a supplement?
CoQ10 can actually be found in trace amounts of a variety of food, such as beef, sardines, mackerel, peanuts, and certain animal organs such as liver and kidneys. It is actually more common in the food items that you consume on a daily basis. If you eat chicken, pistachios, and perhaps cook with canola oil, you may be getting a sufficient amount of CoQ10!
Is it really true that CoQ10 supplementation improves heart health?
Though not conclusive, there are some evidence indicating CoQ10 supplements may help with the symptoms of heart failure, coronary heart disease, and chest pain. In other separate cases, there are certain reports indicating CoQ10’s benefit in counteracting the harmful effects of certain chemotherapy medications (e.g. Doxorubucin) (Despite this, the National Cancer Institute in US does not highly recommend such practices and list the evidence for such practices as being “weak”).
What are the risks of consuming CoQ10, if any?
A typical dose of CoQ10 that is recommended by a variety of manufacturers ranging between 22 mg to 400 mg; some studies have studied doses of CoQ10 as high as 1200mg (separate daily doses) in human subjects. There is no established ideal dose of CoQ10 that is currently available. Thus, you should always consult your health care professionals or follow the instructions on the supplement bottle to identify the amount of intake necessary. (Do always keep in mind that different brands and manufacturers may have different amounts of CoQ10 and other added contents and also that supplements and medications are regulated much differently).
There are a few reports indicating consumers having insomnia (difficulty sleeping) with a consumption of a 100mg of CoQ10 and above. Other possible side effects could include headache, nausea, dizziness, an increased sensitivity to light, rashes, and irritability. CoQ10 may also interact with certain prescription medication, such as warfarin (a type of blood thinner). Therefore, it is always prudent to consult your physician or healthcare professional if you would like to or are currently taking any nutritional supplements, including CoQ10.
Statins (a cholesterol lowering prescription medication) reduces the amount of CoQ10 within the body, hence statins is “bad” for us, is this true?
This is still a controversial point under debate, there are actual mechanisms indicating that statins do lower the amount of CoQ10 within the body (By how much? And if it is towards a dangerous level? We simply do not have a conclusive answer). The negative assumption about statins medications is that, with the lower amount of CoQ10 in our body, it could be harmful to the human body and hence, harmful towards the patient. However, whether it makes statins a bad choice for a patient has to be weighed against the benefits of the patient taking the statins (the benefit is likely to lower LDL- cholesterol levels and prevent a heart attack in the future). Furthermore, the effects of CoQ10 reduction via statins intake may be such minuscule that it can easily be replenished through dietary sources mentioned above. Therefore, check with your heart physician on whether there is indeed a risk of taking statins and whether you require CoQ10 supplementation.
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