A couple of months ago a major study was released into the heart health benefits of what some in the global media called ‘a little known supplement’ Co-Enzyme Q10 (CoQ10).
What is Co-Enzyme Q10?
CoQ10 is an essential vitamin-like substance found in nearly every cell of our body and is concentrated in our heart, liver and kidneys. Its role is to help our cells create energy, it is also a powerful antioxidant and, in fact, the only antioxidant that is synthesised in our bodies.
Previous studies have shown (in patients with heart failure) that CoQ10 improves symptoms, functional capacity and quality of life; there is also research that it lowers high blood pressure.
The beauty of CoQ10 is that it has no side effects, and can work alongside pharmaceutical drugs. In many cases it may well be advisable to supplement with CoQ10 when on certain drug regimes. Cholesterol lowering drugs (Statins) and some blood pressure medications (beta blockers, Metoprolol and Diltiazem) can strip your body of this essential nutrient.
Statins are worth mentioning here as they are routinely given to people with heart failure to lower cholesterol. Unfortunately, CoQ10 levels are already decreased in the heart muscle of patients with heart failure, and this gets worse as the heart failure progresses. Statin drugs just amplify CoQ10 deficiency, and can in fact, decrease CoQ10 levels by around 30%. The benefits for heart failure patients supplementing with CoQ10 have been spectacularly demonstrated in this landmark study.
The study was conducted by the Heart Centre at Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark. It was a double-blind randomised placebo controlled trial (such high level trials are known as the ‘gold standard’ in medicine) and it found that CoQ10 halved the death rate for people with moderate to severe heart failure. The trial involved 420 people of Asian and European descent, half of which were given CoQ10 100mg three times/day and the other half given a placebo (sugar pill).
Over the two years patients were followed, 17% of people in the placebo group died, compared to only 9% of people in the CoQ10 group. The study also measured other adverse events that did not result in death, such as heart attacks or hospital admissions etc. These figures were all much better for those in the CoQ10 group as well.
This study is called the Q-SYMBIO study, and it is the largest, most robust and significant study of its kind to date. The low relative cost of CoQ10 (compared to pharmaceutical drugs), coupled with its lack of side effects and dramatic results should change how heart failure patients are treated. Professor Mortenson (Lead study author) said: “CoQ10 is the first medication to improve survival in chronic heart failure since ACE inhibitors and beta blockers more than a decade ago and should be added to standard heart failure therapy.” He also said “Other heart failure medications block rather than enhance cellular processes and may have side effects. Supplementation with CoQ10, which is a natural and safe substance, corrects a deficiency in the body and blocks the vicious metabolic cycle in chronic heart failure called the energy starved heart.”
While medical specialists call CoQ10 a drug or a medication, it is completely natural and sold in New Zealand as a dietary supplement (you can buy it on the shelves). It is found in a variety of foods but it is hard to get a therapeutic dose from food alone, which is one of the reasons we included a generous dose in Lester’s Oil. A daily dose (two capsules) of Lester’s Oil provides 100mg.
I think this study is significant enough that if you have heart failure, I recommend you discuss these results with your GP or specialist, as they may not be aware of them. It is important to note that CoQ10 can affect certain blood thinning medications, so you should always advise your GP or specialist of what you are taking as you may need to be monitored if you decide to use it. Our product has a generous dose (as mentioned above) but you would need to buy an extra supply from your local health store (another 200mg/day) to match the amounts used in the study, there are many good brands to choose from.
Daniel King, MSc (hons)