CoQ10 and Statins: The Vitamin C Connection
“We are now in a position to witness the unfolding of the greatest medical tragedy of all time – never before in history has the medical establishment knowingly created a life threatening nutrient deficiency in millions of otherwise healthy people.” Peter H. Langsjoen, MD
Ubiquinone (CoQ10) is a popular heart medication.
Until 2001, it was only available by prescription in Japan. Much of the public is unaware that an increasingly popular class of cardiovascular drugs called statins (HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors) interferes with the body’s synthesis of CoQ10. Top selling statin drugs, such as Lipitor® and Zocor®, earn their makers over 20 billion dollars per year. These drugs lower the endogenous production of cholesterol and are often touted as “life saving” by cardiologists and the media.
Are the statin drugs really good for us, or are cardiologists mistaken? How can drugs that lower the body’s production of CoQ10, a co-enzyme required for energy utilization, benefit heart patients? Are the health benefits attributed to CoQ10 supplementation hype, or is it that there is something fundamentally wrong with the thinking and science being used by those who market statin drugs?
Coenzyme Q10 is a vitamin-like fat-soluble antioxidant found in the body, and the highest concentrations have been measured in vital organs such as the heart and pancreas. At age 20, the heart has a higher CoQ10 level than other major organs. At age 80 this is no longer true, as the heart levels reduce by more than half. Over 35 controlled clinical trials in Japan, Europe, and the U.S. have proven that CoQ10 therapy is highly effective in treatment of congestive heart failure, angina and ischemic heart disease, and myocardial infarction. It is now believed that CoQ10 is the key nutrient for generating 95 percent of the total energy required by the human body.
A healthy, youthful human body can make its own CoQ10. Endogenous production or biosynthesis of CoQ10 has 17 steps, requiring at least seven vitamins (vitamin B2 – riboflavin, vitamin B3 – niacinamide, vitamin B6, folic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin C, and pantothenic acid) and several trace elements.
Merck, a pharmaceutical giant, has known for more than 15 years that statin drugs interfere with CoQ10 biosynthesis, which leads to low serum levels. Low serum levels can cause damage to one’s body, specifically causing muscles (and internal orgams) to atrophy. The following claim from a 1990 Merck patent (4,933,165) discusses the addition of CoQ10 to statin drugs, in order to overcome statin induced myopathy.
“A pharmaceutical composition comprising a pharmaceutical carrier and an effective antihypercholesterolemic amount of an HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor and an amount of Coenzyme Q.sub.10 effective to counteract HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor-associated skeletal muscle myopathy.”
This invention has never been implemented, most likely because the entire world supply of CoQ10 is limited, and current production would only supply one-sixth of the world’s statin users.