A new study found 150 mg per day of coenzyme Q10 lowered LDL cholesterol levels, begging the question: Are statin drugs really necessary? And what does the Canadian health care system know about the nexus of statin drugs and coQ10 that the American system refuses to acknowledge?
Coenzyme Q10 given to 53 healthy young males at 150 mg per day for two weeks led to a 4.8-fold increase in coQ10 levels in the blood and a significant 12.7 percent decrease in LDL cholesterol, according to a study published in the Aug. 29 edition of the journal IUBMB Life.
The coQ10 “induces characteristic gene expression patterns, which are translated into reduced LDL cholesterol levels and altered parameters of [red blood cell production or] erythropoiesis in humans,” the scientists concluded.
CoQ10 sales grew 8.2 percent in the last year, to $137 million, in combined mass-market and natural channels, according to data from market research firm SPINS.
The study is even more notable because coQ10 supplementation is recommended for patients taking statin drugs—the top-selling class of pharmaceutical drugs in the world—because statin drugs tend to deplete the body of coQ10 levels. This is problematic because coQ10 both prevents free-radical damage of and fuels mitochondria—the power plant in cells—which are particularly present in the heart muscle. So, while statin drug users benefit from lower cholesterol levels, at the same time their hearts weaken, which is the ultimate end point of cholesterol levels—preventing heart attacks.
Still, the concept of CoQ10 supplementation for statin patients is not universally understood, especially in pharma-influenced mainstream medical channels.
A study published two weeks ago in the European Journal of Pharmacology made note of nutrients that could cause problems with drug therapy without making mention of drug-induced nutrient depletions.
Study researcher Simone Eussen told Functional Ingredients magazine that the jury is still out on the coQ10-statin nexus. “The musculoskeletal complaints associated with statin therapy might be related to a statin-induced coenzyme Q10 deficiency,” Eussen said. “Although there are ample studies that showed that statins reduce plasma Q10, there are only two studies with contrasting results that investigated the influence of supplementing Q10 on muscle pains. We concluded that data is insufficient to recommend Q10 to patients on statin therapy."
These comments, however, fly in the face of government pronouncements to the contrary.
“The Canadian health care system put black-box warning on their statins to recommend Q10,” said Scott Steinford, president at coQ10 supplier ZMC-USA. “Obviously, there’s enough there for Canadians to make a decision.”
Steinford referenced a 2003 article in Smart Money magazine, “The Lipitor Dilemma,” which detailed the statin-coQ10 problem. “There have been a number of studies—I don’t know where they came up with only two—that focus on coQ10 depletion. I think there might be some studies they may have missed.”