If you’re taking statins to lower your cholesterol, you probably know that they also lower your natural levels of CoQ10.
Your cardiologist has likely suggested supplementing with CoQ10, also called coenzyme Q10, to avoid muscle pain and disease (heart problems, brain disorders, diabetes, and cancer have also been linked to low levels of CoQ10).
But absorption of CoQ10 into the bloodstream is a complicated process, and bringing your CoQ10 up to therapeutic levels may be difficult.
This guide will explain why CoQ10 is particularly important for statin users, and help you get the maximum benefit from your CoQ10 supplements.
Statins Lower CoQ10
Research has shown that cholesterol-lowering statin medications can lower CoQ10 levels. This is because cholesterol and CoQ10 are made in the same pathway in the body.
In fact, scientists have found that taking statins can lower CoQ10 levels by as much as 40%.
This is a potential concern because CoQ10 plays an important role in the production of energy in the body and is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect our cells.
Statins and Muscle Disease
Along with lowering CoQ10 levels, another side effect of statins is myopathy (muscle disease), which can cause muscle symptoms such as pain, cramps, and fatigue.
Sometimes, a more serious condition develops, called rhabdomyolysis, a breakdown of damaged skeletal tissue, which can lead to kidney damage.
Given the important role CoQ10 plays in the normal functioning of cells, including muscle cells, researchers wondered if taking CoQ10 supplements with statins could help prevent or improve muscle symptoms.
Over the years, CoQ10 has been studied as a potential solution to myopathy caused by statins. Some of the clinical trials have shown benefits, while others have not.
An article published on New York Times concluded that research does not support the use of CoQ10 as a prevention for statin-induced muscle problems.
However, new research has called these findings into question.
A 2018 meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Heart Association looked at 12 studies, and found that:
“CoQ10 supplementation [improved] statin‐associated muscle symptoms, implying that CoQ10 supplementation may be a complementary approach to manage statin‐induced myopathy.”
In the paper, the researchers explain that the 2015 meta-analysis only evaluated six studies, while the new meta-analysis looked at 12 studies and included six newly published studies, which explains why the findings from the new analysis were different from the conclusions reached in the 2015 analysis.
According to a study published in the American Journal of Cardiology, CoQ10 is a vital supplement that may help alleviate side effects of statin drugs, including muscle pain. The study authors concluded:
“Results suggest that coenzyme Q10 supplementation may decrease muscle pain associated with statin treatment. Thus, coenzyme Q10 supplementation may offer an alternative to stopping treatment with [statins].”
While more research needs to be done, the evidence now suggests that CoQ10 supplements can help with muscle symptoms caused by statins.
CoQ10 and Heart Health
As a known essential nutrient in the health and maintenance of the cardiovascular system, CoQ10 provides many benefits in supporting heart health.
According to a summary of research studies from the Mayo Clinic Coenzyme Q10 Information web page, CoQ10 has been used for promoting:
- Healthy cholesterol levels: 200 mg/day
- Healthy blood pressure levels: 200‒300 mg/day
- Healthy blood pressure levels* during pregnancy: 200 mg/day
- Heart function: 300 mg/day
- Arterial health: 100‒300 mg/day
As CoQ10 plays a key role in maintaining the healthy musculature of the heart, supplementation is the smart way to promote heart health and can help support any existing cardiovascular concerns.
CoQ10 and Aging
As the body ages, natural amounts of CoQ10 drop significantly, as does the body’s ability to absorb this vital nutrient-like coenzyme.
Low amounts of CoQ10 can lead to a loss of strength, vitality, and even pain, particularly in the muscles and vital organs like the heart.
Cardiovascular health, including heart function, healthy blood pressure levels, and healthy cholesterol levels can be affected by lowered CoQ10.
Additionally, CoQ10 is a highly active antioxidant that helps protect healthy cells from free radical damage.
CoQ10 plays many potential roles in promoting heart health and is particularly beneficial to statin drug users. It’s a vital nutrient which is difficult to obtain through a healthy diet alone, so supplementation is recommended.
In fact, In light of the latest research and many other studies, CoQ10 is now recommended by more cardiologists than any other supplement.
According to the Journal of The American College of Nutrition:
“Correction of deficiency requires supplementation with higher levels of CoQ10 that are available in the diet.”
Choosing a CoQ10 Supplement
Many of us are currently taking a CoQ10 supplement to boost our CoQ10 levels.
But if you’re not truly absorbing your CoQ10 supplement, you may not be able to experience its potential benefits.
Regular CoQ10, typically found in most powder-filled capsules and softgels, struggles with absorption because of its large molecule size and poor solubility in fat and water.
This is why you should choose a CoQ10 supplement that is both water and fat-soluble.
Before we get any benefits from them, our bodies must break down food and supplements, including CoQ10, into particles that are small enough for us to absorb.
The wall of our intestines, the site of absorption, is like a cheesecloth – small dissolved particles can pass through the wall easily, but most larger particles do not go through.
Since regular CoQ10 is a large molecule, it has trouble passing through our intestinal wall and very little will normally make it to the bloodstream.
Food intake also affects the absorption of CoQ10. It’s recommended that you take your CoQ10 with meals (preferable with some fat), because food will help slow down the time it takes CoQ10 to travel through your digestive system, therefore allowing more absorption time.
To facilitate absorption, most CoQ10 supplements are available in softgels suspended in oil (fat).
While oil suspension improves the absorption of CoQ10, there is an even better way to improve its absorption.
Our intestines are a water-friendly environment, and we absorb water-soluble substances more efficiently than fat-soluble substances.
So, look for a CoQ10 supplement that is water-soluble (in addition to fat-soluble), to ensure that your body will absorb more of the CoQ10, allowing you to experience its benefits.
In order for CoQ10 to be effective, your blood serum CoQ10 levels must reach a certain level of concentration (the therapeutic level).
It’s become a common practice to take very large doses, in the hopes that more will be absorbed.
However, this brute force approach can get expensive in a hurry, and still only offers minimal incremental benefits.
The Best Option – Ubiquinol
For therapeutic absorption (and to avoid taking mega-doses, hoping you’ll get some benefit), get your CoQ10 in its concentrated form: ubiquinol.
Ubiquinol is the active form of CoQ10, produced by our cells.
The problem with conventional CoQ10 is that your body must convert it into Ubiquinol (the more advanced type of CoQ10) before it can help make the cellular energy your heart and other vital organs need to function at optimal levels.
Unlike conventional CoQ10, Ubiquinol is also a strong antioxidant that helps neutralize free radicals that might otherwise damage healthy cells in the body.
Ubiquinol Absorbs Better Than C0Q10
CoQ10 Ubiquinol supplements are significantly better absorbed than regular C0Q10, and can produce higher concentrations of CoQ10 in the blood, than regular CoQ10.
In every published comparative study to date, Ubiquinol CoQ10 was better absorbed by the body than conventional CoQ10.
The amount your body absorbs will vary based on your age and overall health, but studies have consistently shown Ubiquinol to be the form of CoQ10 that’s easier for the body to use.
Ubiquinol CoQ10 is more readily absorbed in the intestinal tract and therefore considered more “bioavailable” than conventional CoQ10.
This difference makes Ubiquinol quite special. When conventional CoQ10 is ingested, the body must turn it into Ubiquinol CoQ10 so it can contribute to the production of cellular energy, which our hearts and other major organs need to function at optimal levels.
But the process of turning conventional CoQ10 into Ubiquinol becomes harder and less efficient as we get older and especially after age 45. That’s a big reason why many experts encourage “older” adults who take a CoQ10 supplement to consume it as Ubiquinol.
For many people and often to their surprise, conventional CoQ10 simply does not deliver the same benefits of Ubiquinol CoQ10.
The standard dose of CoQ10 ranges from 90 mg to 200 mg per day. Doses up to 500 mg seem well tolerated, and several studies have used even higher doses without any serious side effects.
Ubiquinol Side Effects
Supplementing with CoQ10 appears to be well tolerated by humans and have low toxicity.
In fact, participants in some studies showed no major side effects taking daily doses of 1,200 mg for 16 months.
However, if side effects appear, it is recommended to divide the daily dose into two to three smaller doses.
If you or someone you care about is on statins, I highly recommend watching the video “Statins Cause Major Deficiency to Most Important Vitamin in the Body” by Dr. Alan Mandell, D.C.
It’s a detailed and easy-to-understand explanation of the importance of C0Q10, and the effect of statins on the body’s C0Q10 levels.
If you’re not sure where to start with ubiquinol supplements, I can recommend a couple of excellent brands.
These choices are based on company integrity, customer reviews and value.
Jarrow Formulas Ubiquinol QH-Absorb
Jarrow Formulas QH-Absorb is a bestseller among ubiquinol supplements, and utilizes the Q-absorb natural, proliposomal delivery system for enhanced absorption.
These 100 mg softgels are available in bottles of 30, 60 and 120.
Jarrow Formulas have been manufacturing health supplements since 1977, and are actively involved in clinical studies and continually work with researchers from universities and institutes around the world.
They also stand by their “Total Quality Pledge” and GMP compliant supplements.
Qunol Mega Ubiquinol
Another excellent choice is Mega Ubiquinol from Qunol. These have a patented water and fat soluble formula for superior absorption.
The reviews for Mega CoQ10 Ubiquinol are outstanding, with several purchasers reporting a noticeable improvement in energy, circulation, joint pain and mobility. Some also mentioned that their cardiologist recommended this particular brand.
Qunol’s specialty is CoQ10 and turmeric curcumin supplements, and the company has an excellent reputation for quality.
These 100 mg softgels are available in bottles of 60 or 100.
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