Coenzyme Q-10 (CoQ-10) is a naturally occurring substance in the human body. It is essential in the production of energy. CoQ-10 levels decrease with age and with certain medical conditions. It is proving useful in treating numerous conditions, especially those relating to problems in the heart and nervous and immune systems. While research is still ongoing, studies indicate that CoQ-10 holds promise for the treatment of a number of conditions.
CoQ-10 benefits are most readily seen in heart patients. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that CoQ-10 supplements given within three days of a heart attack decreased the likelihood that patients would suffer subsequent heart attacks. According to UM, CoQ-10 may be beneficial to heart patients because it increases production of energy in cells, slows the formation of blood clots, and acts as an antioxidant, which slows the progression of atherosclerosis.
Congestive Heart Failure
CoQ-10 has been used in Japan as part of the treatment for congestive heart failure (CHF) since 1974. Peter H. Langsjoen, M.D., reviewed studies of CoQ-10 efficacy in treating CHF and stated these findings support its effectiveness in reducing symptoms of the disease, improving the condition and function of the heart muscle, and reducing swelling of the heart caused by CHF, in some cases returning it to its normal size.
Some studies have shown that one to three months of CoQ-10 supplementation brings about a drop in blood pressure in hypertension patients. Mayo Clinic said there is a correlation between high blood pressure and low CoQ-10 levels in hypertension patients, but it is not yet understood whether the deficiency causes hypertension or vice versa.
Because high cholesterol is correlated with low levels of CoQ-10, research has been undertaken to study the link between the two. However, since medications typically used to lower cholesterol further exhaust the level of CoQ-10 in the body, the University of Maryland states that supplementation is useful to reverse the deficiency without interfering with the action of the drugs.
CoQ-10 is an antioxidant. It functions as a free radical scavenger, according to Langsjoen. While most research to date has focused on CoQ-10’s role in treating disease, anecdotal evidence suggests that it boosts the immune function, increases energy, and may slow damage done to the body’s cells by aging and exposure to free radicals.
CoQ-10 is most highly concentrated in organ meats, and in smaller concentrations in whole grain products, peanuts, soy oil and sardines. Supplements are widely available and can be obtained in tablet form or gel capsules. Absorption is increased if the supplement is taken with a meal containing healthy fat. Side effects are rarely reported, and CoQ-10 appears not to interact with medication. People with low blood pressure, diabetes or liver disease should not use CoQ-10 except under the guidance of a physician. As with any dietary supplement, consult a health care professional before using CoQ-10.