Walk into and drug store and you will see a lot of advertising for “CoQ-10″. What is this supplement and should you be taking it?
What is it?
Coenzyme Q-10 (CoQ-10) is a vitamin-like substance found throughout the body, but especially in the heart, liver, kidney, and pancreas. It is eaten in small amounts in meats and seafood.
Coenzyme Q-10 is an important vitamin-like substance required for the proper function of many organs and chemical reactions in the body. It helps provide energy to cells. Coenzyme Q-10 also seems to have antioxidant activity. People with certain diseases, such as congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, periodontal disease, Parkinson’s disease, certain muscular diseases, and AIDS, might have lower levels of coenzyme Q-10.
Many people use coenzyme Q-10 for treating heart and blood vessel conditions such as congestive heart failure (CHF), chest pain (angina), high blood pressure, and heart problems linked to certain cancer drugs. It is also used for diabetes, gum disease (both taken by mouth and applied directly to the gums), breast cancer, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, muscular dystrophy, increasing exercise tolerance, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), and Lyme disease. Some people think coenzyme Q-10 will treat hair loss related to taking warfarin (Coumadin), a medication used to slow blood clotting.
Coenzyme Q-10 has even been tried for increasing life span. This idea got started because coenzyme Q-10 levels are highest in the first 20 years of life. By age 80, coenzyme-Q10 levels can be lower than they were at birth. Some people thought that restoring high levels of coenzyme-Q10 late in life might cause people to live longer. The idea works in bacteria, but not in lab rats. More research is needed to see if this works in people.
It’s not only time that uses up the body’s store of coenzyme Q-10. Smoking does, too.
Coenzyme Q-10 was first identified in 1957. The “Q-10” refers to the chemical make-up of the substance. These days coenzyme Q-10 is used by millions of people in Japan for heart disease, especially congestive heart failure. Coenzyme Q-10 is also used extensively in Europe and Russia. Most of the coenzyme Q-10 used in the US and Canada is supplied by Japanese companies. Coenzyme Q-10 is manufactured by fermenting beets and sugar cane with special strains of yeast.
How effective is it?
Likely effective for…
- Coenzyme Q-10 deficiency. This is a very rare condition. The symptoms include weakness, fatigue, and seizures.
- Inherited or acquired disorders that limit energy production in the cells of the body (mitochondrial disorders). Improvement in symptoms is slow. Some people have to take coenzyme Q-10 for six months to get the most benefit.
Possibly effective for…
- Congestive heart failure (CHF). There is no evidence that taking coenzyme Q-10 alone can help heart failure. But there is some evidence (though controversial) that it might be helpful when taken in combination with other heart failure medications and treatments.
- Decreasing the risk of additional heart problems in people who have had a recent heart attack (myocardial infarction, MI). When started within 72 hours of MI and taken for one year, coenzyme Q-10 appears to significantly lower the risk of heart-related events including non-fatal MI.
- Huntington’s disease (a rare genetic neurological disorder). Ubiquinol, an altered form of coenzyme Q-10, has been granted “Orphan Drug Status” by the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This gives the maker of Ubiquinol some financial incentives to study its effectiveness for Huntington’s, a condition that is so rare (affecting less than 200,000 individuals) that pharmaceutical companies might not otherwise invest in developing a drug for it. However, taking coenzyme Q-10 by mouth in doses of 600 mg per day or less doesn’t seem to be effective for slowing the progression of Huntington’s disease.
- Preventing blood vessel complications caused by heart bypass surgery. There is some evidence that taking coenzyme Q-10 by mouth for a week before surgery might help to reduce blood vessel damage. But not all research agrees with this finding.
- High blood pressure (hypertension). Taking coenzyme Q-10 by itself or along with other medications for treating high blood pressure seems to help lower blood pressure even more.
- Preventing migraine headache. Taking coenzyme Q-10 by mouth seems to help prevent migraine headaches. Studies show it can decrease the frequency of headaches by about 30% and the number of days with headache-related nausea by about 45% in adults. Taking coenzyme Q-10 also appears to reduce migraine frequency in children who have low levels of coenzyme Q-10. It can take up to 3 months for significant benefit. Unfortunately, coenzyme Q-10 doesn’t seem to be effective in treating migraines, once they have developed.
- Parkinson’s disease. Some research shows that taking coenzyme Q-10 supplements might slow decline in people with early Parkinson’s disease. But taking a coenzyme Q-10 supplement in people with mid-stage Parkinson’s disease does not seem to improve symptoms.
- Improving the immune system of people with HIV/AIDS.
- Muscular dystrophy, an inherited disorder involving muscle wasting. Taking coenzyme Q-10 by mouth seems to improve physical performance in some patients with muscular dystrophy.
More information: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/938.html
Source: Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version [Internet]. Stockton (CA): Therapeutic Research Faculty.
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