Is Coenzyme Q10 a supplement that really works?

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)

Could a product sold as a dietary supplement really be delivering the benefits that advocates have claimed for decades? That’s what you might be wondering about coenzyme Q10, following recent stories like:

What’s caused all the excitement about CoQ10 is the Q-SYMBIO trial, more properly called “The effect of coenzyme Q10 on morbidity and mortality in chronic heart failure”, presented at the European Society of Cardiology conference last month. I’d normally wait for the full article to come out, and will review it if possible at that time, but the results are too interesting to ignore so I’ll dive into the study and the reaction – which is equally as interesting as a lesson in why scientific skepticism is so important. Continue reading

Does Coenzyme Q10 Relieve Statin-Induced Muscle Pain?

Editor’s Note:

Today’s guest post is from a pharmacist who blogs under the pseudonym Avicenna, who looks at the evidence supporting the use of Coenzyme Q10 to treat statin-related muscle pain.

My pharmacy stocks plenty of natural health products (NHPs) and ensuring they can be used safely is challenging, given the limited information available on safety, quality, purity, and efficacy. Answering patient questions is always interesting and often very challenging, as they can often be non-specific. A typical question like “Is product ‘X’ good for treating condition ‘Y’?” can be difficult to answer without gathering some further information.  My usual response is, “Let’s talk about this. I want to make sure I give you an answer that is right for you, given your medical conditions.”

I recently spoke with a patient taking atorvastatin (Lipitor), a cholesterol-lowering medication from the “statin” family, who was complaining about muscle pain, and asking about Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) for treating that pain. Treating or preventing statin-related muscle pain is a common question, given the popularity of statins and the frequency of the complaint: About 1 in 15 develop this symptom. Before diving into the efficacy of CoQ10, let’s review statins.

Statin Benefits

If you have high blood pressure, are overweight, diabetic, or sedentary, you should know your cholesterol levels: Keeping them in the normal range will lower your death risk in the short and long term.[1] If you need drug therapy to reduce your cholesterol levels, you’re probably on a statin. Statins are a class of highly effective cholesterol-lowering drugs that work to inhibit HMG-CoA [3-hydroxy-3-methyl-glutaryl-CoA] reductase. Statins work by lowering cholesterol points (e.g., low-density lipoprotein (LDL), triglycerides) and/or moderately increasing good cholesterol (i.e., high density lipoprotein (HDL)). High levels of “bad” cholesterol is a contributor to heart disease and other negative cardivascular outcomes. It clogs the arteries that feed oxygen to the heart, and is involved in the process of blood clot formation. Continue reading