Pharmacist Blog Innocent Byo-Stander: C0Q10

Several classes of prescription medications tend to disrupt nutrient homeostasis in the body. Unfortunately, as these prescription medications are working to fix one problem, they can cause unintended nutrient deficiencies by reducing absorption of or blocking the pathway that produces these compounds in the body. One of these innocent bystanders is a compound called Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). CoQ10 is a fat-soluble nutrient that is essential for energy production in our cells. It is also a potent antioxidant to prevent or curb cell damage. Most healthy individuals are not deficient due to our cells synthesizing this compound. So, when our bodies are functioning normally, we should have plenty of energy to carry out everyday activities.

CoQ10 & Prescription Medications

A problem occurs when people are taking prescription medications that can block the pathway of production. A common class of prescription medications that do this is “statins.” Statins are widely used to lower cholesterol (specifically for their LDL-lowering ability). Statins work by inhibiting an enzyme that is key to cholesterol production in the body called HMG-CoA reductase. Unfortunately, HMG-CoA reductase also plays a critical role in the production of CoQ10, therefore, as cholesterol production is inhibited, so is CoQ10 production.
Deficiency can manifest as muscle weakness, physical and/or mental fatigue, workout intolerance, shortness of breath, and headaches. Low CoQ10 has also been associated with heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and obesity. With respect to statins, muscle aches or weakness can be an unwelcome side-effect and is one of the most common reasons individuals stop these medications. By supplementing with CoQ10, this side effect may be mitigated causing the medication to be better tolerated.

CoQ10 Supplementation

CoQ10  supplementation is usually well-tolerated, and I would recommend it to most customers when starting or continuing a statin. One caution would be those individuals taking the blood thinner, warfarin, as it may make warfarin less effective leading to unwanted clotting. At Oswald’s, one of the brands we carry is a CoQ10 supplement from Ortho Molecular. This product, in particular, combines CoQ10 with natural vitamin E to improve absorption and increase stability, which is why this is my go-to when recommending a CoQ10 supplement.