Medium 9781591200109

User's Guide to Coenzyme Q10

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Explains what Readers need to know when using coenzyme Q10 to boost their health

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12 Chapters

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1. An Amazing Molecule “Born” in a Refrigerator




Back in 1957, Fred Crane, Ph.D., was a young research biochemist and assistant professor working at the University of Wisconsin’s Enzyme Institute. He and his colleagues were investigating the biochemical sequence involved in cellular energy production.

Crane, now seventy-six years old and retired, recalls, “we could partly put the sequence together, but something was missing in our understanding of these molecular events. I was assigned the job to find the missing link.”

The researchers were working with beef-heart mitochondria. Mitochondria are where energy is produced inside cells. You will be hearing a lot about them in this book.


Mitochondria are organelles—microscopic organs—within cells where oxygen and the derivatives of the food you eat are mixed to produce energy. Think of the mitochondria as the “power plants” that generate the energy to operate individual cells.

Mitochondria, present in both animal and plant cells, are center stage for the activity of CoQ10. But Crane and his team didn’t know it at the time. In fact, no scientist had ever heard of CoQ10.


2. The Great Energizer




You probably know somebody like one of my relatives (who shall remain anonymous). After a typical workday, he would sit back in his living room easy chair and do the typical couch-potato thing: watch TV for a couple of hours and then doze off. That was his pattern before he began taking CoQ10.

“Now,” he says, “I go out more with my wife, have gotten involved in more activities, and don’t feel as bone tired as I used to. My energy level has really improved. I feel a whole lot younger.”

At fifty-two, my relative had become concerned about learning new tasks at his job and about what he felt was increasing forgetfulness. He thought he might be developing Alzheimer’s disease.

“But since taking CoQ10, I have found that I can again concentrate and learn as well as when I was younger,” he confided. “I really believe this CoQ10 stuff has given me a lot of physical and mental energy back.”

Such comments are typical of CoQ10 users and even of physicians who recommend CoQ10 supplementation to patients.


3. The Great Antioxidant




When a nuclear bomb explodes, the blast of powerful radiation triggers a firestorm of “free radicals” that virtually wipes out everything in its path. Free radicals are not showers of shrapnel. Rather they are runaway electrons that create chain reactions of destruction at the atomic level.

There are no atomic bombs in the cells of our body, but chain reactions instigated by electrons go on everywhere and all the time.

As we have seen, our cells utilize oxygen atoms to produce energy in the mitochondria. One byproduct of this normal process is the constant creation of a huge number of free radicals. This poses a threat not only to the mitochondria but also to the rest of the cell.

Free radicals are simply “free” electrons that have broken loose from their attachments to the nuclei of oxygen atoms during the energy process. Electrons like company, so they seek other electrons to pair up with. This activity, repeated countless times in countless cells, sets off a chain reaction of damage that starts with adjacent atoms and molecules. Over time, it engulfs tissues and eventually organ systems.


4. The Great Antiaging “Secret”




So far we’ve seen that you need CoQ10 to keep you energized. Just like the spark in the engine of a car. We’ve also seen that it’s a super antioxidant snuffing out damaging free radicals throughout the body and notably the torrent unleashed by energy production in trillions of cells.

So, CoQ10 sparks your engine, and prevents it from oxidizing and “rusting.” Using the automotive analogy one more time, now we’ll see how CoQ10 also puts the brakes on the aging process.

Turning Around Ailing, Aging Patients

Peter Langsjoen, M.D., has been prescribing CoQ10 to patients since the mid-1980s. “A large number of my patients are elderly and are doing great just on CoQ10 alone,” he says. “You can’t believe how active, healthy, and happy they are on virtually no medicine.

“When I see new patients in their 80s, coming in on walkers, I try to simplify their drugs if they are on a bunch of things, and I put them on CoQ10. These are individuals who have been declining gradually and feeling poorly for a very long time. Typically, when I see them back again in six or eight weeks, they are different people. They can’t believe how much better they feel, and how fast it has happened. It makes the practice of medicine very gratifying.”


5. Keeping Your Heart Healthy Longer




It should not come as a surprise that the cells of the heart muscle are packed with mitochondria. In fact, they make up about a quarter of the volume in heart cells, more than anywhere else in the body.

That’s obviously Nature’s way of generating the power necessary to drive the heart’s non-stop pumping action over a lifetime. Talk about a work schedule! Your heart pushes blood (with its essential cargo of oxygen and nutrients) through a 60,000-mile network of blood vessels to nourish your brain, your feet, and everything in between. Every day, the heart muscle expands and contracts about 100,000 times, recycling 2,000 gallons of blood through your body. In a year, it contracts 36 million times.

That takes a lot of energy, and, yes, a lot of CoQ10.

Mitochondrial Mutations and the Aging Heart

In the last chapter, we have seen how mutations of mitochondrial DNA cause a loss of energy in cells, and contribute to weakness, disease, and aging. In one Japanese study published in the Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry Journal, researchers found an accelerated rate of mitochondrial mutation in aging human hearts, and markedly so over the age of eighty. They concluded that such mutations play an important role in ebbing cardiac function among older people, and particularly in heart failure.


6. If It’s So Good, Why Aren’t Cardiologists Using It?




In October of 1996, Connecticut cardiologist Stephen Sinatra received an urgent call from a man who pleaded with him to take his mother in transfer from another hospital. The woman was seventy-nine-years-old at the time and had been admitted to a community hospital with heart failure complicated by pneumonia.

The son said she had been on a ventilator for several weeks, was getting powerful steroids and high concentrations of oxygen, but was still failing. She went into kidney failure and her doctors said there was nothing more to do.

The son, who placed the S-O-S call to Sinatra, was a biochemist and knowledgeable about CoQ10. He had asked the doctors at the hospital to place his mother on CoQ10. They refused. CoQ10 was not on their list of approved formulas.

The son brought in stacks of medical literature showing how CoQ10 could help patients with heart failure. The doctors would not review the information. Instead, they asked the family to end life support. The family refused.


7. High Blood Pressure, Stroke, and Diabetes




In addition to directly helping the heart, CoQ10 also benefits the cardiovascular system as a whole. That means the circulatory system as well. And in doing so, CoQ10 further adds to its value as both a natural preventive and therapeutic agent.

In this chapter we will discuss CoQ10’s potential for three major conditions: high blood pressure (hypertension), stroke, and diabetes.

CoQ10 and High Blood Pressure

You are about to read some great news if you are among the approximately one in four adult Americans with high blood pressure. What you will learn is something your doctor likely doesn’t know about … so show this to your physician.

First, the facts. Hypertension, or high blood pressure as it is popularly called, is not really a disease. It is a byproduct of other, often more serious, underlying problems.

High blood pressure means that the force of blood pressing against the walls of the arteries is too great. Fully one-third of the individuals with high blood pressure have no symptoms and don’t even know they have it.


8. Keeping Your Immune System Strong




Energizer, antioxidant, and mitochondria protector par excellence. That’s CoQ10. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that these remarkable properties of CoQ10 extend to the immune system, the body’s wondrous defense mechanism.

Physicians say CoQ10 boosts resistance to disease. People get sick less often. They get fewer colds, flu, and respiratory infections. They are not as sickly. If they come down with a viral illness, it is much milder. CoQ10 may also represent a front-line natural agent against more serious disorders, such as AIDS and cancer.

Although the CoQ10 research in the area of immunology doesn’t approach the volume of scientific work done in cellular bioenergetics and heart disease, the findings nevertheless suggest a good deal of promise for CoQ10.

Fortified Antibodies and Immune Cells

Studies show, for instance, that CoQ10 can improve antibody levels. In one Italian study, a group of volunteers took either 90 or 180 mg of CoQ10 for two weeks prior to vaccination against the hepatitis-B virus. After vaccination, they continued taking the supplement for another ninety days.


9. Combating Nervous System Disorders




After starting CoQ10 supplementation, an eight-year-old boy confined to a wheelchair was able to walk independently, and a twenty-year-old woman was able to work outside the home for the first time.

These dramatic stories of recovery were recounted by Salvatore DiMauro, M.D., a neurologist and researcher at Columbia University in New York, in a 2001 issue of the journal Neurology.

DiMauro described two patients with hereditary ataxia, a rare incurable disorder that causes deterioration of the cerebellum, the part of the brain controlling coordination. Patients have difficulty with balance, coordination of arms and legs, and speech, and may develop seizures. DiMauro had discovered that the two patients, and four others with this condition he treated, had CoQ10 levels 70 percent lower than normal. He then began prescribing CoQ10 at daily dosages ranging from 300–3,000 mg.

Ataxia Patients Improved

“All of the patients improved,” he reported. “They got stronger, their ataxia improved, and their seizures either stopped or happened less often.” Five of the patients had been unable to walk before using CoQ10. One year later, all were able to walk with some assistance, such as a rolling walker.


10. Keeping Your Gums Healthy




Most people develop gum disease at some point in their adult life and unless they take care of the problem, it’s bye-bye teeth. Gum disease (also called periodontal disease or periodontitis) is the leading cause of tooth loss.

Gum disease is usually treated by specialists who perform gum surgery or extract loose teeth. These specialists are known as periodontists. Some dentists also use non-surgical methods to treat periodontal disease, including a wide variety of nutritional supplements. High on their list of supplements is CoQ10.

The dental use of CoQ10 dates back to the 1970s when researchers in Europe and Japan found a common deficiency among many patients with diseased gums. Further research showed that supplementation had a beneficial therapeutic effect.

In one double-blind clinical experiment over a three-week period, a group of patients were given either a placebo or a pill with 50 mg of CoQ10. All eight patients on CoQ10 improved significantly. The placebo group showed no improvement.


11. How to Take CoQ10




Before we get into specifics, keep in mind that although CoQ10 can do wonders, it is not a panacea. Don’t expect it to serve as a rescue remedy for every physical ailment or for a ruinous lifestyle.

It is also important to point out that people with CoQ10 deficiencies often have deficiencies in other key nutrients that can contribute to ill health or poor healing. This is particularly true of older individuals and those with medical conditions taking pharmaceutical drugs, but nutritional surveys consistently show that Americans of all ages are deficient in many vital nutrients.

In view of this, it is probably in the best interest of overall good health to take CoQ10 along with a high-quality multivitamin and mineral formula, at the very least.

How Much to Take for Disease Prevention

Unlike many vitamins and minerals, CoQ10 is not considered an essential nutrient that we must obtain in our diets or perish. That’s because we make CoQ10 in our bodies. And even though we may become deficient in CoQ10, as a result of the aging process, certain genetic conditions, poor diet, stress, or the use of particular medications, the medical community is not yet advising supplementation for prevention.


12. The Future of CoQ10




Modern medicine has taken the approach that a disease can be furiously and selectively attacked with the likes of antibiotics, powerful drugs, chemotherapy, and surgery, without any damage to the host body. It’s a medical myth.

Someone may be cured of one condition only to suffer or die from something else caused by the treatment. In general, the time borrowed with medication and surgery does not mean that health has been restored.

Patients are demanding a change. And as our medical system matures, it will likely come to honor the need to strengthen the body with key nutritional supplements such as CoQ10. This is what an integrative medical approach is all about, and today many large hospitals and major university medical centers have taken steps in this direction by opening “complementary” or “alternative” clinics.

The Changing Medical Scene

In this shifting ambiance, interested patients should have more access to savvy doctors who believe in and use many natural healing remedies. Such practitioners may recommend a certain drug and a nutritional supplement to prevent side effects and bolster the body from the onslaught of drug or surgical stress. The idea is really to use the best combination of approaches, not just one that takes away the symptom and leaves the cause of the disease still smoldering in the body.



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