CoQ10: A Wonder Enzyme
Source: Green Wise, August 2007
From The Inside Out, Your Body May Benefit From CoQ10 Supplements
What if there were a natural substance with the potential to combat devastating diseases and the effects of aging on the skin? That’s what some say could be the promise of the supplement coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10).
Every cell in the human body produces CoQ10: it’s a vitaminlike substance that helps generate energy and acts as an antioxidant.
“CoQ10 is used by muscles in the body, including and most specifically the heart muscle,” says Phyllis D. Light, an herbalist in Birmingham, Alabama. “That’s why I think having adequate levels of CoQ10 is so important for good heart health.”
Indeed, the bulk of research on CoQ10 has concentrated on its effects on heart disease or conditions that have weakened the heart. More than 40 years ago, Karl Folkers, Ph.D., at the University of Texas at Austin, found that CoQ10 helped strengthen some patients’ heart muscles. It has also been found to improve energy production in cells and to inhibit blood clot formation. Some studies indicate that CoQ10 levels decrease with age and are low in people with certain chronic diseases, such as Parkinson’s, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS. But there is little evidence that supplementation is useful in treating these conditions and, in the case of diabetes, caution is needed.
Light often recommends CoQ10 to people with cardiovascular disease, those at risk of developing heart problems, and those battling fatigue. “Particularly for those with high blood pressure or who have had bypass surgery, it just makes sense to supplement with a compound the body needs.” Light says.
She also recommends that clients consider CoQ10 when undergoing a heart-stressing regimen, such as cancer treatment. Also, Light says, “People take what are called statin drugs to help reduce cholesterol, and one of the side effects of those drugs is that they deplete the body of CoQ10. With both of those conditions, I generally suggest a supplement that may help reduce the damage to the heart muscle itself.”
One of the side benefits? Since CoQ10 is already present in the body, it doesn’t interfere with most medicines, Light says. The Mayo Clinic says that CoQ10 may lower blood sugar or decrease blood pressure, so talk with your doctor or pharmacist before taking it. Children should not take CoQ10.
An Energy Boost
Light also suggests CoQ10 for clients with chronic fatigue or who complain of tiredness. She recommends combining it with the amino acid L-carnitine and vitamin B12. “The trio helps the energy makers in our cells function better,” Light says. ” It’s not an instant eye opener, but over a period of a few weeks, people do tend to notice a little more energy.”
Recently, a new generation of beauty care products has begun to incorporate topical CoQ10. The theory is that since it has antioxidant properties, CoQ10 may help to counteract the free radical damage that leads to wrinkles. Although there hasn’t been much scientific study, it’s yet another intriguing possibility for this versatile supplement.