Coenzyme Q10’s Powerful New Role in Cardiovascular Health

By: Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist
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A variety of new studies are demonstrating an expanded role for the use of coenzyme Q10 in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. Q10 has long been known as an energy producing, anti-aging nutrient that has direct benefits to your heart, which include rejuvenating your heart and reducing blood pressure. Exciting new discoveries extend the benefits of Q10 to even more aspects of cardiovascular health, including lowering cholesterol and preventing DNA damage that leads to atherosclerosis.

I have written extensively on Q10 over the years. In my comprehensive articles Coenzyme Q10 Enhances Longevity and Vitality and Coenzyme Q10 for Heart, Kidneys & Blood Pressure I explain the history and science of this nutrient in support of cardiovascular health. It is pleasing to see that this impressive cardiovascular nutrient is now found to be even better than we thought it was.

Q10 Reduces DNA Damage and Inflammation Following a Meal

Two of the most powerful new studies come from Spanish researchers adding 200 mg of Q10 per day to the diet, while doing a detailed tracking of DNA damage and inflammation markers. These types of human studies go a long way towards proving that a routine dose of Q10 can have profound effects on reducing markers associated with cardiovascular disease.

In a study published in March, 2011, adults age 65 and older were placed on three different diets for four weeks each:  A Western diet, a Mediterranean diet, and a Mediterranean diet with 200 mg of Q10. All diets were set up with 15 percent of calories from protein, 47 percent from carbohydrates, and 38 percent from fat. The Western diet was 22 percent saturated fat, 12 percent monounsaturated fat, and 4 percent polyunsaturated fat. The Mediterranean diet was 24 percent monounsaturated fat from olive oil, 10 percent saturated fat, and 4 percent polyunsaturated fat. 

Part of this study shows that eating olive oil as a larger percentage of your fat intake is really good for your cardiovascular health. When you have twice as much olive oil as saturated fat your cardiovascular system benefits, compared to the other way around. Impressively, the extra addition of 200 mg of Q10 to the olive oil based Mediterranean diet had significant additional benefits that were measured by detailed analysis.

The Q10 decreased DNA damage that otherwise sets off a chain of events in your circulation that leads to plaque accumulation. It is becoming clear that a lot of circulatory distress is based on the food that enters your bloodstream during the several hours after you eat. If you have a pattern of food consumption that is cardiovascular distressful on an ongoing basis then it will eventually take its toll. In this human study Q10 powerfully protected your DNA in a way clearly linked to reduced cardiovascular distress, even though these older adults were eating a healthier diet. 

In a just published study these researchers again used the same three test diets. This time they measured multiple inflammatory markers in response to the food intake. Low grade inflammation, from whatever source, is now recognized as the common thread in the diseases of aging including cardiovascular disease. As expected, the high olive oil diet was better than the high saturated fat diet, in terms of less inflammation. And once again, the addition of Q10 significantly improved the anti-inflammatory gene signaling far beyond the Mediterranean diet alone. These studies show an anti-aging benefit for adding Q10 on a regular basis, helping to compensate for problems that tend to magnify as we grow older.

Q10 Supports Healthy Blood Flow and Healthy Arteries

How easily your blood flows around your body is a key marker of arterial fitness. A big part of this issue centers on the cells that line the insides of your arteries, called your endothelial lining. These cells not only act as protection to your arteries but they are also sending out signals that influence blood pressure and the flow of blood. A recent meta-analysis of Q10 studies showed that “Coenzyme Q10 supplementation is associated with significant improvement in endothelial function.”

When endothelial dysfunction progresses it eventually becomes coronary artery disease. One new study documented that those with low Q10 have stiffer arteries. Another study involved patients with ischaemic left ventricular systolic dysfunction, a type of coronary artery disease involving endothelial dysfunction. They were placed on 300 mgs of Q10 for 12 weeks and experienced a significant improvement in blood flow as well as improved cell energetics within their endothelial cells. Another research group showed that even a lower dose of 150 mg of Q10 could reduce free radical damage in the circulation of patients who have coronary artery disease.

Ubiquinol Q10 Lowers Cholesterol

The newest form of coenzyme Q10 is called ubiquinol and is considered more biologically active than regular Q10. This may well be the case, especially for people with compromised health. Regular Q10 works just fine for most people, as evidenced by all the studies mentioned so far in this article, which all used the regular form of Q10. I personally like the ubiquinol form best, although I like the regular form as well. For further information on a comparison see my article, Taking Q10 for a Test Drive, Is Ubiquinol Better?

However, regular Q10 has never been proven to lower cholesterol in humans. In a recent study with 53 healthy males 150 mg per day of ubiquinol Q10 was shown to modulate gene signals involved with cholesterol metabolism. This amount of Q10 intake raised the blood levels of Q10 4.8 times, reduced inflammatory gene signaling, reduced LDL cholesterol, and actually reduced the number of small, dense LDL cholesterol particles (the type that are the most problematic to forming plaque in the arteries). 

The evidence supporting Q10 dietary supplementation, especially during aging, indicates improved cardiovascular health. Many of the studies show that Q10 will help maintain better cardio fitness and prevent a slide in the wrong direction. Other human studies prove that Q10 can be used to help correct even serious cardiovascular problems.


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