Heart disease remains one of the world’s biggest killers, and with cholesterol management often deemed a major weapon against the condition, the number of statin prescriptions has continued to soar.
However, because statins can cause agonising side effects, many believe that the benefits have been oversold and the risks understated. What's more, 2019 research suggests that for 50% of people, statins have a negligible effect on bad cholesterol.
With statins now the most prescribed drug in the United Kingdom, we decided to focus our attention on the relationship between coenzyme Q10 and statins, answering the most common questions which tend to be asked.
Let’s get right to it.
Coenzyme Q10 and Statins: How Do They Relate?
To explain how coenzyme Q10 and statins affect one another, we should probably first define the terms.
Coenzyme Q10 is an essential antioxidant and, in fact, one of the most vital nutrients in the entire body.
Naturally manufactured, coenzyme Q10 – or CoQ10 – is used by cells to fire up energy production and facilitate electron transfer within the mitochondria.
Often dubbed “the energy centres of cells”, the mitochondria exists in the highest concentration in organs like the heart, liver and kidneys.
These organs rely on generous quantities of CoQ10 in order to perform their daily functions, none more so than the energy-intensive heart.
Although known primarily for sustaining our energy levels at a cellular level, coenzyme Q10 is widely appreciated for its antioxidant properties.
Research shows that CoQ10 has the ability to quench free radicals and thus minimise oxidative damage to mitochondria DNA.
What’s more, coenzyme Q10 potentiates the antioxidant effect of vitamin E by regenerating the nutrient from the tocopheroxyl radical.
There is perhaps no better nutrient for cellular defence against oxidative damage than coenzyme Q10.
So where do statins come in? Well, these cholesterol-lowering drugs have a notable and worrisome side effect: they also reduce our natural production of coenzyme Q10.
“Can’t our bodies just manufacture more CoQ10?” you might wonder. If only it were that simple.
Unfortunately, biosynthesis decreases progressively in humans from the age of 21, with attendant effects on bone and muscle density, metabolic function and skin elasticity.
Heart conditions and problems such as diabetes deplete CoQ10 yet further: troubling, since statins are prescribed precisely to address cardiac problems.
Coenzyme Q10 deficiency has been widely implicated in the development of various cardiac conditions, from heart disease and high blood pressure to heart failure and strokes.
How Does CoQ10 Offset Statin Side Effects?
One of the primary reasons people use coenzyme Q10 supplements is to mitigate the side effects of statins.
Although it isn’t the standard procedure, a great many naturopathic doctors advise that statin therapy be supplemented with CoQ10 to reduce the risk of congenital heart failure and decrease muscle pain associated with the use of traditional cholesterol-lowering medication.
According to a 2007 study published in the American Journal of Cardiology, “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 these vital drugs.”
Pain severity among statin users in the trial actually decreased by 40% after the 30-day intervention, with the daily dose of CoQ10 being 100mg per day.
As well as lessening muscle pain, the research showed that CoQ10 had the effect of slowing muscle breakdown. Some doctors move to decrease statin dosage after CoQ10 is introduced.
How to Increase Your CoQ10 Intake
There are two key ways to up your coenzyme Q10 intake: from food and supplements.
Fat-soluble, coenzyme Q10 is present in a wide variety of foods including grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, organ meat, oily fish, peanuts and leafy green vegetables.
Unfortunately, the food content is not especially significant and older people in particular are best served by using a concentrated supplement to boost their levels.
A combination of both coenzyme Q10-rich foods and a good-quality daily supplement is probably the best course of action. It is best to consume alongside foods that contain some fat.
Should I Use a Coenzyme Q10 Supplement?
WHC’s QuattroCardio provides biologically-active coenzyme Q10 in the ubiquinol form. Ubiquinol is the form into which coenzyme Q10 is converted by our bodies, and is far superior to the commonly-available ubiquinone you’ll find in many supplements.
The supplement’s ubiquinol is uniquely fermented from yeast and bio-identical to the CoQ10 produced within the body. As a consequence, it is free of the impurities typical of synthetically-processed CoQ10.
QuattroCardio is also provided in softgel form, making it more bioavailable than dry gelatin capsules containing a powdered nutrient. 100g of ubiquinol is provided per serving. QuattroCardio combines CoQ10 with other heart-healthy nutrients such as vitamin D3, vitamin K2 and omega-3 fish oil.
Although few side effects have been recorded, CoQ10 supplements can decrease the anticoagulant effects of blood thinning drugs such as warfarin. As such, it is best to speak to your doctor in the first instance.
Hopefully we’ve answered most of the common questions relating to coenzyme Q10 and statins. But if you have any more queries, you can of course get in touch with us.
Ultimately, whether you take a CoQ10 supplement is up to you, but you should know that such supplements are safe and well-tolerated by the vast majority of people.
Given that our natural levels decline steeply with age, it’s little wonder many people choose to boost their levels however they can.
Berberine is another good natural product for those on statins: according to a 2017 research paper, “berberine has a beneficial effect on LDL (reductions ranging from approximately 20 to 50 mg/dL) and triglycerides (reductions ranging from approximately 25 to 55 mg/dL).”
As well as lessening muscle pain, research shows that CoQ10 has the effect of slowing muscle breakdown.