CoQ10 Fighting Parkinson’s Disease

 CoQ10 shows promise for patients with Parkinson’s disease, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects the part of the brain responsible for muscle movement and causes tremors in the arms, the legs and the jaw. Although there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, the symptoms are treatable. People with Parkinson’s disease have low CoQ10 levels, suggesting a potential therapeutic application for CoQ10 supplements.

In the October 2002 issue of the Archives of Neurology, researchers from the University of California at San Diego published a study on the safety and effectiveness of CoQ10 for patients with Parkinson’s disease. The researchers randomly assigned patients in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease to one of four groups. Every day, members of each group received a dose of CoQ10 (1,200 milligrams, 600 milligrams or 300 milligrams) or a placebo. After 16 months, the ability to perform daily activities (such as walking, bathing and dressing) had declined significantly less in patients receiving CoQ10 that it had in patients receiving a placebo. The researchers reported that the highest doses of CoQ10 were associated with the greatest benefits.

An Antiaging Antioxidant

As an antioxidant, CoQ10 may protect people from free radicals produced by the body and by environmental toxin. Free radicals have been linked to age-related chronic conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes. These conditions are also associated with decreased levels of CoQ10, suggesting that CoQ10 supplements may provide anti-aging benefits.

A Natural Boost

Because of its importance to cellular energy production, CoQ10 has been reputed to increase energy and endurance. In 2002, Japanese researchers performed a double-blind, placebo-controlled study on the possible endurance-enhancing effects of a supplement containing CoQ10, alpha-lipoic acid, vitamin E and L-carnitine. The test group consisted of 24 middle-aged, sedentary men: half received the CoQ10 supplement for two weeks, and half received a placebo. All performed a cycling endurance test before and after treatment. After two weeks, the men who received the CoQ10 supplement showed significant improvement in their performance on the endurance test. The researchers interpreted this as evidence that CoQ10 supplements increase endurance and stamina.

Is Coenzyme Q10 Safe?

The October 2007 issue of the Journal of Toxicological Sciences included the results of a study on the safety of CoQ10. Researchers fed rats an extremely large daily dose (300,600 or 1,200 milligrams) of CoQ10 for 13 weeks. By the end of the trial, the researchers had observed no negative side effects.

The Need for Supplementation

Most of us produce sufficient coenzyme Q10 until we are about 30 years old; after that, production diminishes. It has been shown that as many as 75 percent of people over the age of 50 are deficient in coenzyme Q10.

Without sufficient CoQ10, the heart cannot circulate blood effectively. The people with the most severe CoQ10 deficiencies are those with heart disease. Doctors don’t yet know whether CoQ10 deficiency is a cause of heart disease, and studies show that as supplementation restores optimal levels of CoQ10, heart function improves, energy production is enhanced, the heart ahs better ability to contract and antioxidant protection increases. Coenzyme Q10 also helps prevent the buildup of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.

The Bottom Line

Most young people can produce all the coenzyme Q10 they need; for them, supplements are probably not worth the expense. However, as we age, CoQ10 supplements can help strengthen our hearts and maintain our health. Today, more than 12 million Japanese people take CoQ10 supplements under the direction of their physicians. As Americans continue to learn about the value of CoQ10, the use of CoQ10 will only increase.

Coenzyme Q10 Fast Facts

Uses and Benefits: CoQ10 protects and strengthens the heart, helps treat high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases, strengthens muscles, stimulates the immune system and fights age-related illness.

Sources: CoQ10 supplements are available as capsules, liquids, tablets, and sprays. Gel capsules are readily absorbed and easy to swallow.

Special Considerations: CoQ10 is best absorbed when taken with fatty foods such as fish or peanut butter. For general health, recommended dose is 30 to 60 milligrams per day. Higher doses may be recommended for some conditions – consult your physician first. CoQ10 is generally considered safe and free of side effects. In rare cases, stomach upset, diarrhea and nausea have been reported.

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