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Question of the Week:

Q- Dr. Levin, I take a Statin drug.  I've heard that I should be taking CoQ10 because the drug reduces the CoQ.  Is this true?

A- Absolutely!  You've heard correctly.  The Statin drugs reduce your production of cholesterol by reducing the activity of an enzyme in your body called coenzyme A.  In fact the Statins are very effective at suppressing the activity of this enzyme.  So effective that there is no question that they are a very effective class of drugs for lower cholesterol.  No one can deny this.  Whether or not it is appropriate to lower cholesterol is another conversation for another article (coming soon). 
The problem is that the enzyme which the Statins depress is the same enzyme which makes CoQ10 (yikes).  Considering that CoQ10 is intimately envolved in energy production and is in fact a rate limiting step in cellular energy production, anything which limits the production of CoQ10 can create big problems.  And when we think about organs that require tremendous amounts of energy the first one we think of is the heart.  Your heart begins beating long before birth and doesn’t stop until your last breath.  That is why we find the highest concentration of CoQ10 in the heart muscle cells.  Our liver detoxifies all of the foods that we eat, the drugs that we take and the air that we breath; another tremendous job.  It’s no wonder then, that liver cells have the second highest concentration of CoQ10.
Another group of cells that require lots of energy are your muscles.  This is why so many people develop musculoskeletal pain after they have been on Statin drugs for weeks or months.  Their muscles are not capable of creating enough energy and start to hurt.  Often supplementation with CoQ10 is all that is necessary to reduce these pain syndromes.

Let’s look at some of the other important functions of CoQ10:

  • One of the strongest antioxidants.
  • Enhances circulation.
  • Stimulates the immune system.
  • Anti-aging effects.
  • Promotes healthy gums.
  • Counters Histamine and therefore benefits those with allergies, asthma and other 
  •  respiratory diseases.
  • Important for brain health/memory.
  • Promotes youthful healthy skin.
  • Improves oxygenation of tissues.
Quite a resume.  Studies show that CoQ10 is so powerful that in just 6 weeks topically applied CoQ10 reduced the depth of skin wrinkles by 27% and in 10 weeks reduced the depth of wrinkles by 43%. 

Another interesting fact about CoQ10 is that our tissue levels tend to peak at about age 20.  By age 35-40 we begin to lose the ability to produce CoQ10.  Fortunately, Oral supplementation with CoQ10 is easily absorbed and goes to work in our tissues and organs creating a more youthful body and mind. 
I consider CoQ10 a daily essential and personally take anywhere from 50 to 100mgs per day.  I’ve noticed that if I don’t take my CoQ10 for a few days that I’m not as energetic.  Many of my patients have noticed the same.
And so, my long winded answer to your question is: Definitely Yes!!! In my opinion anyone who takes Statin drugs should take CoQ10 as well to bolster their levels.  Start with 50mgs and work your way up to 200-300mgs per day until you feel that you energy levels are where they should be or your muscle/ joint symptoms are reduced.  There are several excellent choices of CoQ10 supplements in the shopping cart of this site.  I tend to take 2  of Purity’s CoQ-Omega yielding 50mgs of CoQ10 along with 1200mgs of EPA and DHA (omega 3’s) and another 50mg’s of CoQ Max plus Ginkgo on alternate days for the CoQ along with the circulatory enhancing qualities of Ginkgo.
Of course I recommend that you discuss the above with your medical doctor.