Supplementing CoQ10 with Statins and Red Yeast Rice

One of the disadvantages of statin drugs is their potential to decrease the synthesis of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). Statin drugs work by effectively blocking a specific enzyme in the body called HMG-CoA reductase, which catalyzes an important step in the synthesis of cholesterol. Hence, statins can lower cholesterol. But that same step is a necessary reaction in the synthesis of other important molecules, including the all-important CoQ10 as the following simplified diagram shows:

CoQ10

Because statins block the synthesis of mevalonic acid, which is necessary for making cholesterol, they also inadvertently prevent the body from making its own CoQ10.

WHAT IS CoQ10?

CoQ10 is an integral part of every cell in the body. It has the capacity to serve as an antioxidant, but perhaps it serves its most important role in the electron transport chain. If a cell’s mitochondria can be thought of as its batteries, CoQ10 is part of the stuff inside that generates the current. It is therefore essential to the production of cellular energy. Given that the heart needs to make enough energy to beat continuously pretty much every second of one’s entire life, it makes sense that CoQ10 would be important to keep the heart healthy. But every cell needs energy; hence CoQ10 is important for the function of every cell in the body.

WHAT CELLS NEED THE MOST ENERGY?

Each cell in the body is highly specialized to serve its proper role, and not surprisingly different parts of the body have different energy demands. Even though the heart never stops beating, in humans the brain is actually the organ that uses the most energy. Research into the body’s various energy demands (McClave 2001) has allowed us to break down the approximate percentage of energy used at rest by the various organs and tissues:

Muscle…………………….22%

Brain………………………..22%

Liver…………………………21%

Heart…………………….…..9%

Kidney……………………….8%

All Others…………………18%

As these data clearly show, at rest it is not the heart that’s consuming most of the body’s energy. The three most energy-dependent parts of the body are the muscles, the brain, and the liver. It is interesting to consider this in light of the most common and concerning side effects of taking statin medications:

-Muscle pain and weakness, with possible breakdown of muscle tissue (rhabdomyolysis)

-Mental confusion and memory loss

-Liver inflammation, possibility of elevated liver enzymes

-Increased blood sugar and risk of diabetes

Compare these four side effects (affecting the muscles, brain, liver, and metabolism in general) with the breakdown of the body’s resting energy demands. We see muscle, brain, and liver topping the list, and of course the metabolism by definition involves the production of energy. According to modern medicine, the exact cause of statin drugs’ side effects remains unknown. But considering that statins block the synthesis of CoQ10 as well as cholesterol, and considering the importance of CoQ10 in the production of energy in the cell’s mitochondria, is it any wonder that the side effects of statins are felt in the body’s most energy dependent organs, tissues, and systems?

The above analysis highlights the importance of CoQ10 supplementation as a complementary therapy for patients taking statin medications, and in fact there is research supporting this. CoQ10 supplementation has been found to reduce symptoms of muscle pain in patients taking statins (Skarlovnik 2014), which is one of the most common reasons why patients discontinue taking statins against a doctor’s recommendation.

WHAT ABOUT RED YEAST RICE?

Red yeast rice, being a more natural substance, is often for that reason regarded somewhat fallaciously as having a lower potential for harm than its pharmaceutical analog. And whether or not that’s true, what’s certain is that red yeast rice lowers cholesterol by the same mechanism of action as the statin medications. In fact, the invention of pharmaceutical statins was actually inspired by research into red yeast rice and the discovery of naturally occurring compounds that block the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase. Complementary and alternative medical practitioners acknowledge the importance of giving CoQ10 along with statins, but it’s important to remember that this supplement should also be considered for patients taking red yeast rice, or for that matter any patient whose condition may benefit from supporting the mitochondria.

There is no authoritative guidance on what dose to supplement CoQ10, but most sources recommend somewhere between 100-200mg per day. Energique’s Co Q-10 Chews are formulated to provide 100mg of high-quality CoQ10 per tablet. Energique® also offers CoQ10 with added Vitamin C or E for additional antioxidant support.

Citations:

McClave SA, Snider HL. Dissecting the energy needs of the body. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care. (2001) 4(2):143-7.

Skarlovnik A, Janić M, Lunder M, Turk M, Šabovič M. Coenzyme Q10 Supplementation Decreases Statin-Related Mild-to-Moderate Muscle Symptoms: A Randomized Clinical Study. Medical Science Monitor : International Medical Journal of Experimental and Clinical Research. (2014) 20:2183-2188.

 

 

 

 

Dr. Ian Spohn, NDIan Spohn, ND is a naturopathic doctor who enjoys challenging the dogmas of both conventional and alternative medicine. He is a passionate supporter of the paleo diet and classical homeopathy.

 

 

 

 

 

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

 

Claims that are based on traditional homeopathic practice are not accepted as medical evidence. Not FDA evaluated. Energique Pro requires that customers log in to certain areas of our website. Portions of the website are only available to certified healthcare professionals, and Energique Pro reserves the right to limit access to only them.

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