Almost 32 million Americans take a statin drug such as Lipitor, Crestor or Zocor to help manage their high cholesterol. Unfortunately, many people who take them say they felt much better before they started taking statin drugs. The reason behind this is that statins create side effects like headache, fatigue, muscle pain, and more because they block the body’s production of Co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10). If this is something you or someone you know has experienced, adding a supplement of CoQ10 can go a long way in helping you feel better again.
How statins affect your body
When you take statin drugs a signal is sent to your liver and brain telling them to reduce the production of cholesterol. However, cholesterol is a critical part of the body’s foundational building materials and essential to good health and body repair. It is from cholesterol that hormones and vitamin D are made. It’s beyond debate that the body must have optimal amounts of cholesterol to function properly. When you block cholesterol production with statins, you open the door to the long list of painful and energy-zapping side effects from statins.
Common side effects of statins
Two of the most common side effects from statins are muscle aches and low back pain. Being on statins weakens muscles, and the muscle aches people feel is actually due to muscle tissue being broken down. This breakdown puts a tremendous burden on the kidneys which have to work overtime to prevent the body from becoming too acidic, a condition that would be destructive to organs, cells and all tissues. Other side effects include cataract formation, eye disorders, and exhaustion, and loss of energy.
How CoQ10 supplements can help reduce the side effects of statins
Statins block the CoQ10 pathway, causing the body’s supply to become depleted. Replacing CoQ10 can moderate many of the worst side effects from statins. CoQ10, also known as ubiquinone, is an oil-soluble, vitamin-like substance found in the eukaryotic cells of the body, primarily in the mitochondria, the furnace of the cell where energy is created. CoQ10 helps generate energy in the form of Adenosine Tri Phosphate (ATP). 95% of the energy in the human body is generated in this manner. Therefore, the organs with the highest energy requirements – the heart, brain, liver and kidneys – have the highest CoQ10 concentrations. Simply put, without CoQ10, cells cannot function.
CoQ10 is also a powerful antioxidant, on a par with the power of glutathione. CoQ10 is very important in the neutralizing of free radicals that lead to premature aging and disease.
Research supports the need for CoQ10 in statin users
Below are a few studies show that statin users may benefit and find relief from common side effects like muscle aches if that take a CoQ10 dietary supplement.
- Scientists in South Africa note that CoQ10 is well known for its role in the electron transport chain in mitochondrial membranes during aerobic cellular respiration. The deficiency of CoQ10 is linked to statin drug use and the side effects of statins, which can be offset by supplementing with CoQ10.
- Researchers in Denmark found patients taking a statin drug displayed impaired glucose tolerance and decreased insulin sensitivity. Their reduced level of CoQ10 was accompanied by reduced mitochondrial activity that may explain the muscle pain and inability to tolerate exercise they experienced.
- In India, scientists noted that liver toxicity, muscle toxicity, and peripheral neuropathy are primary side effects of statin use, and cite the need for baseline investigations of liver and muscle before initiating statin therapy. They suggest supplementation with CoQ10 as a strategy to reduce side effects.
- In New Zealand, investigators determined that low CoQ10 levels are associated with increased arterial stiffness.
- Research from the University of Kentucky found that statins interfere with the cellular role of CoQ10. Supplementation with CoQ10 may decrease or prevent statin-induced muscle destruction.
- In Iran, researchers have determined that a high dose of a statin drug considerably worsened left ventricular dysfunction and depressed blood flow. This was reversed by the administration of CoQ10.
Still worried about cholesterol and want an alternative to statins?
Talk to your AlignLife chiropractor about natural ways you can improve your cholesterol through diet, exercise, and nutrition. If you are currently taking statins and are interested in taking a dietary supplement of CoQ10, AlignLife recommends CoQ10 from Aceva, which is made with the highest absorbing form of CoQ10 available (ubiquinol).