What is CoQ10 and what does it do?

Coenzyme Q10 is a tiny substance that interacts with enzymes (proteins) in your body.

It works like an antioxidant to protect cells in your body, and some studies have shown that CoQ10 can protect people going through cancer treatment from side effects that might damage the heart.

It’s important to remember that the best way to shield your heart is to eat healthy and exercise daily. After you have established a healthy lifestyle, adding CoQ10 can help you protect your investment in heart health.

CoQ10 has been shown to help decrease blood pressure, help with migraine relief, lower blood sugar, improve Parkinson’s disease, memory, and help reduce fatigue in fibromyalgia. Those are just a few of the non cardiac benefits of this substance.

In regards to your heart, CoQ10 has also been shown to help lessen narrowing of the arteries and improve vascular function. It can also help lower blood pressure.

A recent study also showed that CoQ10 can help improve heart function after a heart attack, and improve cardiac function in patients with known heart failure.

How do I get CoQ10?

Start with a Mediterranean-based diet and choose low-glycemic options — the fewer the carbs the better. Build your diet based on fish, olive oil, nuts, seeds, herbs, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. These foods are staples of a Mediterranean diet and they provide CoQ10 and other nutrients the natural way.

CoQ10 is mainly found in oily fish such as salmon and mackerel, organ meats like liver and kidney, and peanuts. However, these foods only provide minimal amounts of CoQ10.

The best way to get CoQ10 is with a supplement. It comes in two forms: Ubiquinone which then gets converted to Ubiquinol in the body. Most studies focus on this form of the antioxidant. Ubiquinone is generally less expensive than Ubiquinol and is the place to start. You can always ask your doctor about getting your CoQ10 levels checked, and, if they are low despite adequate doses of Ubiquinone, then switch to the more expensive Ubiquinol.

Always make sure the supplement you buy is from a reputable source. Certain seals on supplement labels show they have been tested for purity.

Consult with your doctor and let her/him know that you are taking CoQ10. It can sometimes interfere with certain medications, especially blood thinners.

Exercise and a healthy diet is the key to living an optimal healthy life; however, in certain cases supplements can help.

How does it work?

CoQ10 is made in every cell in your body. It is needed to maintain energy production within the cells. The highest concentrations are found in the liver, kidney, and heart because of the high amount of energy required for these organs to function.

CoQ10 acts like an antioxidant. An antioxidant is actually any substance that helps reduce cell damage, or oxidation. Oxygen breaks down atoms. Antioxidants can compensate for the breakdown by donating electrons to the resulting off-balance atoms, called free radicals.

So, antioxidants like CoQ10 help to reestablish a delicate balance within our cells. But CoQ10 levels in our body decline with age, diabetes, use of statin drugs, use of certain diabetic drugs, and some psychiatric medications. Ask your doctor if a CoQ10 supplement can be beneficial to your heart.

Mona Shah, MD, is a cardiologist with Baptist Heart Specialists and the only physician in northeast Florida who is board certified in both cardiology and holistic medicine (American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine, or ABIHM). Her areas of expertise include heart disease prevention, women’s heart health and non-invasive cardiac testing. She is one of the featured speakers at the American Heart Association’s 2016 Go Red event on May 20 in Jacksonville.

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