By Dr. Mercola
More than 30 million Americans are now taking statin cholesterol-lowering drugs, but the majority is completely unaware that if you take statin drugs without taking CoQ10 (and particularly its reduced form, ubiquinol), your health is at serious risk.
Statins lower your CoQ10 levels by blocking the pathway involved in cholesterol production -- the same pathway by which Q10 is produced. Statins also reduce the blood cholesterol that transports CoQ10 and other fat-soluble antioxidants.
The loss of CoQ10 leads to loss of cell energy and increased free radicals which, in turn, can further damage your mitochondrial DNA, effectively setting into motion an evil circle of increasing free radicals and mitochondrial damage.
Tragically, despite all this overwhelming evidence and research, there are no official FDA-required warnings regarding CoQ10 depletion from taking statin drugs, and nearly all physicians fail to inform you about this problem if you are taking statins.
As your body gets more and more depleted of CoQ10, you may suffer from fatigue, muscle weakness and soreness, and eventually heart failure. So if you’re taking statin drugs, it’s imperative that you take CoQ10 or, preferably, ubiquinol, the reduced, electron-rich form of coenzyme Q10.
Ubiquinol ‘Rescues’ Cells from Statin-Induced Side Effects
One of the most common side effects associated with statins is rhabdomyolysis, a serious degenerative muscle tissue condition that causes muscle pain and stiffness, and may lead to kidney damage.
It’s known that statin-induced suppression of ubiquinol may contribute to rhabdomyolysis, so in a new study researchers determined what would happen if cells were treated with the statin medication simvastatin along with ubiquinol.1
As expected, treatment with simvastatin significantly reduced the cells’ mitochondrial content, as well as cell viability. However, “both [were] rescued by simultaneous treatment with ubiquinol.” The researchers noted:
“This work demonstrates that the addition of ubiquinol to current statin treatment regimens may protect muscle cells from myopathies.”
Again demonstrating the necessity of CoQ10 supplementation during statin therapy, another recent study evaluating the benefits of CoQ10 and selenium supplementation for patients with statin-associated myopathy found that, compared to those given a placebo, the treatment group experienced significantly less pain, decreased muscle weakness and cramps, and less fatigue.2
Although neither study investigated timing, it is important to supplement right from the start, as according to Dr. Duane Graveline (a medical doctor with 23 years of experience whose health was seriously damaged by a statin drug).
Once the mitochondrial damage and mutations are formed they cannot be reversed -- no matter how much CoQ10 or ubiquinol you take. So early intervention is key. As for dosage, Dr. Graveline makes the following recommendation:
- If you have symptoms of statin damage, such as muscle pain, take anywhere from 200 milligrams (mg) to 500 mg
- If you just want to use it preventively, 200 mg or less should be sufficient
Ubiquinol Is More Bioavailable to Your Body and Self-Adjusts Its Dose
If you’re taking statins and trying to decide between supplementing with CoQ10 or ubiquinol, conventional CoQ10 (also known as ubiquinone) is in essence oxidized CoQ10; it is "electron deficient." While the molecular structure of each is the same, because ubiquinol has two extra electrons.
It can donate them, enabling it to slip through the cell membrane more readily, and making it a very strong fat-soluble antioxidant – strong enough to even help regenerate other antioxidants (like vitamins E and C) in your body.
In essence, taking CoQ10 is also like taking oxidized vitamin C or E—something that would not be recommended; the unoxidized form is preferable. Further, according to Dr. Robert Barry, every single publication on ubiquinol to date has shown that the bioavailability is higher compared to CoQ10; in some cases the difference is very small while in others it is a large difference.
So even though the per-milligram dose costs more, it is FAR more cost effective than conventional CoQ10 because much less is needed to achieve the same or better result. The increased absorption rate means you only need to take about one-third the amount of ubiquinol compared to CoQ10.
Interestingly, although ubiquinol is a fat-soluble antioxidant, which typically means it's more difficult to absorb, ubiquinol is 'peculiar' in that its rate of absorption appears to be based on your body's metabolic demand—which is great. Meaning, if you're healthy, you absorb less, and when you're ill, or struggle with chronic disease, your body will absorb more. Its absorption rate is basically self-adjusting so it becomes very difficult to take too much.
Ubiquinol May Help Slow Aging, Fights Chronic Disease
Ubiquinol isn't just for those taking statins. Against diseases such as Huntington's and Parkinson's in particular, CoQ10/ubiquinol has been found to slow progression of the disease. Research over the years has looked into its benefits for diseases such as:
Alzheimer's disease Huntington's disease Periodontal disease Parkinson's disease ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, often referred to as Lou Gehrig's Disease) Renal disease
One of the most dramatic benefits of ubiquinol, however, lies in its potential to slow down the aging process. There's compelling evidence indicating this, which was instrumental in convincing me of its clinical benefits and motivating me to start taking ubiquinol personally.
One powerful example of ubiquinol's anti-aging effects was an early mouse study, performed by researchers at a major medical center in Japan. Specially bred mice that age very rapidly were used to test CoQ10 and ubiquinol against a control group that did not receive supplementation. At the end of the study, when the mice were the equivalent age of 90 to 100 in human years, the differences between the control group and the ubiquinol groups were quite dramatic.
While the control mice were near death, the ubiquinol mice ran around like teenage mice, and the only difference during their entire lifespan was taking ubiquinol. Your body does produce ubiquinol naturally, in fact it is the predominant form in most healthy cells, tissues and organs, but as you age, not only does this conversion become less efficient, your cellular energy (ATP) production also diminishes. And that's when you start seeing chronic and acute disease associated with aging and the aging process itself. And a special note for anyone taking statins… since statins diminishes your ubiquinol, these drugs also promote premature aging throughout your entire body…
Who Really Needs to Take Statins?
I’ve discussed why ubiquinol is a crucial supplement for those taking statins, but perhaps the more fundamental question you need to ask yourself (and your health care provider) is whether you really need to take statins in the first place. For certain individuals born with a genetic defect called familial hypercholesterolemia, statin drugs may be useful. But ordinarily total cholesterol will tell you virtually nothing about your heart disease risk, unless it's exceptionally elevated (above 330 or so, which would be suggestive of familial hypercholesterolemia).
The odds are very high — greater than 100 to 1 — that if you or someone you love is taking a statin drug, you or they don't need it. Remember, your body needs cholesterol for the production of cell membranes, hormones, vitamin D and bile acids that help you to digest fat. Cholesterol also helps your brain form memories and is vital to your neurological function. There is also strong evidence that having too little cholesterol INCREASES your risk for cancer, memory loss, Parkinson's disease, hormonal imbalances, stroke, depression, suicide, and violent behavior.
There is a growing body of research indicating that statins really have nothing to do with reducing your heart disease risk. In fact, this class of drugs can increase your heart disease risk by directly harming your muscles and nerves, with the heart muscle (a highly nerve dense muscle) being a highly susceptible target — especially if you do not take ubiquinol (CoQ10) along with it.
The Most Effective Ways to Prevent Heart Disease
The most effective way to optimize your cholesterol profile and prevent heart disease is with diet and exercise. Remember that 75 percent of your cholesterol is produced by your liver, which is influenced by your insulin and leptin levels. Therefore, if you optimize your insulin and leptin levels, you will naturally optimize your cholesterol ratios and reduce your risk of heart disease (and other chronic diseases).
There is no drug to cure or prevent heart disease, as the underlying cause is insulin resistance and arterial wall damage — both of which are caused by eating too many sugars, grains, and especially fructose. So, my primary recommendations for safely regulating your cholesterol and reducing your risk of heart disease include:
- Reduce, with the plan of eliminating grains and fructose from your diet. This is one of the best ways to optimize your insulin levels, which will have a positive effect on not just your cholesterol, but also reduces your risk of diabetes and heart disease, and most other chronic diseases. Use my Nutrition Plan to help you determine the ideal diet for you, and consume a good portion of your food raw.
- Get plenty of high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fats, such as krill oil, and reduce your consumption of damaged omega-6 fats (trans fats, vegetable oils) to balance out your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio.
- Include heart-healthy foods in your diet, such as olive oil, coconut and coconut oil, organic raw dairy products and eggs, avocados, raw nuts and seeds, and organic grass-fed meats.
- Optimize your vitamin D levels by getting proper sun exposure or using a safe tanning bed.
- Optimize your gut flora, as recent research suggests the bacterial balance in your intestines may play a role in your susceptibility to heart disease as well
- Exercise daily. Make sure you incorporate Peak Fitness exercises, which also optimizes your human growth hormone (HGH) production.
- Walk barefoot to ground yourself to the earth. Lack of grounding has a lot to do with the rise of modern diseases as it affects inflammatory processes in your body. Grounding thins your blood, making it less viscous. Virtually every aspect of cardiovascular disease has been correlated with elevated blood viscosity. When you ground to the earth, your zeta potential quickly rises, which means your red blood cells have more charge on their surface, which forces them apart from each other. This action causes your blood to thin and flow easier. By repelling each other, your red blood cells are also less inclined to stick together and form a clot.
- Avoid smoking or drinking alcohol excessively.
- Be sure to get plenty of good, restorative sleep.