by Al Sears, MD
Oxygen is your most important healer. It’s your most effective detox agent, a crucial blood cleanser, your strongest antibiotic and the lead orchestrator of your immune system.
The more oxygen you have, the better your lungs can breathe, the stronger your heart beats and the faster your brain thinks. It’s why you can digest and absorb nutrients from your food, and why you can move every muscle in your body.
Oxygen also plays a huge role in giving you energy. Every cell uses oxygen to make the energy that keeps you going and lets you do all the things you want to do every day.
Your cells use one critical nutrient to turn the air you breathe into energy…
I’m talking about CoQ10.
Coenzyme Q10 is part of an incredible system of reactions that happen inside you that make your body run.
These reactions produce brain chemicals that let you laugh and remember the experience. You make hormones that boost your sex drive, and keep you relaxed and ready for action. And you make energy so you can get up and go any time you want.
You make that energy by melting carbs – and the oxygen you breathe is fuel for the fire…
CoQ10 is like the spark that lights the oxygen. It regulates how the oxygen gets used. In fact, CoQ10’s role is so important that its discovery won Peter Mitchell the Nobel Prize in 1978.
You see, your body gets energy by using the flow of electrons.
The engines of your cells, called mitochondria, use nutrients and oxygen to make a fuel molecule called ATP that your muscles can burn. CoQ10’s job is to run back and forth, carrying and delivering electrons that are the spark for the whole process.
That process is called the electron transport chain. Without CoQ10, there’s no flow of electrons, no spark, no ATP for fuel… and no energy for your tissues and organs.
So with no CoQ10, you can’t use your oxygen, and your cells start to suffocate.
First, your muscle cells burn through the little bit of ATP they can make without oxygen (anaerobically). Then your muscles begin to “cramp up,” getting stiff and achy.
Your adrenal glands and thyroid gland pump out more of their hormones to try to get more fuel to the cells. But while this will give you energy, it is not the kind of energy that feels good. It’s a “fight-or-flight” kind of energy that feels stressful and depletes your body even more.
Your nerve cells and brain cells have no way to make energy besides using oxygen, and they suffer the most. You start to think more slowly, even to the point of being unable to follow normal conversation.
You have slowed reaction time and it might be difficult to drive.
You start to do everything in slow motion, and take a long time to “think about it” before you can do the next thing. Have you ever opened the refrigerator door and just stood there, staring at everything for a few minutes before being able to get what you wanted?
This is what happens when you can’t use oxygen in your cells. You could also experience poor athletic performance, have poor hearing or weak muscles.
Low CoQ10 levels also contribute to gum disease, diabetes and heart disease. There have been over 100 studies at major universities and hospitals linking CoQ10 deficiency with heart disease.
Deprive your heart of CoQ10 and its available energy declines, leading to a decrease in the volume of blood pumped. If your heart pumps less blood than it receives, fluid backs up and your heart swells like a water balloon. We call this congestive heart failure.
There is no better treatment for congestive heart failure than the simple oral administration of CoQ10. In my experience, it has worked better than any medication I have ever used. Many cases appear to be completely resolved after CoQ10.
Many cases of high blood pressure share a similar mechanism. About half of patients coming to me treated with high blood pressure medications have stopped that medication with nothing more than adding CoQ10.
And one of the reasons heart disease and high blood pressure are so common in America is because we are universally deficient in CoQ10.
What Is Normal?
In medicine, when we say something is normal, we take the population that is healthy and not complaining of anything and we measure their levels.
Then we use a bell curve distribution to pick the 95% of people right in the middle. We toss out the numbers from the top 2.5%, and the bottom 2.5%, and we say that everyone else is “normal.
But if we do that with CoQ10, what we’re calling “normal” is actually an exceptionally diseased and deficient population.
And we are a nation that is now profoundly deficient in CoQ10 because we don’t have our dietary source of CoQ10 in the modern world – animal organ meat.
When was the last time you had deer kidney or elk brains or lamb heart? I wouldn’t necessarily recommend you eat it anyway these days, unless it’s from a grass-fed or wild-caught animal.
Studies show that levels of CoQ10 in commercial livestock are very low when compared to wild game. These animals are fed an unnatural diet of grains. Confinement stops them from getting enough exercise, and they are artificially fattened with hormones. These conditions inhibit healthy CoQ10 levels.
It’s sad because we’re making it impossible to get the only really good source of dietary CoQ10. Organ meat has 200 times more CoQ10 than the skeletal muscle.
We’re lucky if we even eat enough red meat skeletal muscle, since we’re told not to eat it. And there’s virtually nobody eating red meat internal organs. So you’re just not capable of getting enough CoQ10 from the modern Western diet we follow.
Then we’re taking that population – that universally already has that extreme dietary deficiency – and we’re calling that normal.
And if you take a statin drug to lower your cholesterol, your CoQ10 will be below that already deficient “normal” range.
Right now, over 30 million people have prescriptions for statin drugs. And what’s worse is that they are told even more specifically NOT to eat red meat.
That’s a kind of profound ignorance, combined with that arrogant command relationship between the doctor and the patient. The doctor gives you an order – but he’s giving you an order to do something in this case that reveals a really exceptionally troublesome ignorance.
Because it’s not like CoQ10 is an unknown substance. For example, they did a famous study almost 20 years ago that looked at two groups of people having heart surgery. These were people with already diseased and failed hearts. One group was pre-treated with CoQ10 before surgery, and the other got a placebo.
The study found that the people treated with CoQ10 had significantly stronger heartbeats and pumped blood more powerfully. Not only that, but recovery time for the CoQ10 people was short, with no complications. The placebo group took six times as long to recover and had complications.1
It’s almost a willful ignorance for a doctor almost 20 years later not to know this issue of CoQ10 deficiency, and why it’s so important, and that it gets even worse if you’re on statin medications.
Choking The Breath Out Of You
Statin drugs used to be called by their scientific name, HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors. In other words, statins work by stopping your body from “reducing” HMG-Coenzyme A, and keep you from using it to make other compounds.
One of those things you make with HMG-CoA is cholesterol.
But, typical of modern medicine, they invented a treatment that’s worse than the problem. Statins simply block or “inhibit” HMG-CoA from becoming cholesterol.
But this causes a huge amount of trouble. Your body also uses HMG-CoA to make two other critical things.
The first is testosterone, the sex hormone that both men and women need.
The second is CoQ10, the one nutrient vital to all your cells for making energy.
You already can’t make very much CoQ10 after the age of 20. If you’re older than 30 and you add a statin drug to that, you have a recipe for disaster.
Not enough CoQ10 can mean fatigue, muscle soreness, weakness and heart failure… which just happen to be the most common complaints of statin users.
Some people think they have avoided the dangers of statins by lowering the dose, but even small doses still drive your CoQ10 levels into the basement.
One study found that only a 10 mg dose of a statin decreased CoQ10 levels by 40%.2 The authors of the study specifically wrote, “It is imperative that physicians are forewarned about the risks associated with CoQ10 depletion.”
A regular dose of statins prescribed to people with “high” cholesterol can be anywhere from 20-80 mg. People taking those doses have almost no CoQ10 in their bodies at all, and will have a very difficult time turning oxygen into energy.
Meanwhile, dysfunctional oxygen use contributes to every single inflammatory, autoimmune and neurodegenerative disease there is.
Statin drugs are a perfect example of why many times, modern drug treatments are worse than the symptoms. Would you take a drug knowing it would suffocate you? Of course you wouldn’t.
But the drug companies don’t want you to know about CoQ10 depletion from statin use.
The drug giant Merck, that makes the statin drug Zocor, has known about this vital connection for years.
In fact, Merck filed a patent that combines CoQ10 with statin drugs. Here’s an excerpt:
“Since CoQ10… is of benefit in congestive heart failure patients, the combination with HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (statin drugs) should be of value in such patients who also have the added risk of high cholesterol.”
But Merck has never exercised their patent to use CoQ10 with statin drugs. What’s worse, they’ve remained silent on the real effect statins can have on you, never sharing this vital information with doctors or the public.
The Newest Research
Besides being the most important part of the chain of events that gives you energy, CoQ10 plays another role… it helps you make DNA.
Why is this important to you? Because making new copies of your DNA is how your body continues to stay alive. You replace older cells with newer ones, and without CoQ10, one of the steps in the process of making DNA can’t happen.3
CoQ10 is also one of your body’s strongest antioxidants (50 times stronger than vitamin E).
And here are some other studies that show research is opening up a new world of CoQ10 benefits. These include:
• Blood Sugar: An Australian study showed that patients who took only 200 mg a day of CoQ10 were able to improve their blood sugar control and significantly reduce their blood pressure.4
• Vision and Eye Health: A recent clinical trial showed that CoQ10 play a role in protecting your eyes from macular degeneration. Adults who supplemented with a combination of CoQ10, acetyl-L-carnitine, and omega-3 fatty acids for one year improved their visual function.5
• Easier Breathing… Researchers in Texas found a correlation between CoQ10 levels and respiratory health. They looked at blood from a diverse selection of people with allergies. Forty percent of them had CoQ10 levels so low they were similar to people dying of congestive heart failure!6
• Gum Health: CoQ10 improves gum health and also supports tissue healing.7
• Clear-headed comfort: In a study, 32 patients were treated with CoQ10 daily. More than 60% of the patients experienced a 50% or greater reduction in the number of severe headaches. After three months, the frequency fell by an average of 55%.8
And it’s not just stain drugs that can rob you of CoQ10. Beta blockers, diabetes medications and other drugs drop your CoQ10 levels. Excess body fat, repeatedly exercising for too long, or chronic inflammation can also use up your CoQ10 stores.
To re-energize yourself, here are the two best ways to get more CoQ10 so you can enjoy all its benefits:
1. Forbidden Food Full of CoQ10 – Your best source of CoQ10 is something everyone is afraid to eat today, and you’re advised not to eat it: red meat.
Even people who are nutrition advocates and are very knowledgeable about nutrition want to try to gloss over this issue… that there are no good vegetable sources of CoQ10.
If you’re going to become a vegetarian, you are going to be profoundly deficient in CoQ10. Meat and fish are your only sources.
They’ll find miniscule amounts of CoQ10 and say, “Oh, see, you can eat brewer’s yeast and get CoQ10.”
No you can’t. You can’t get an appreciable amount.
Spinach, broccoli, peanuts and wheat germ? Not even close.
Whole grains? Forget it. Whole grains are not a significant or bioavailable source of CoQ10.
Avocados, almonds, grape seeds and sesame seeds do have a tiny bit of CoQ10, but not as much as animal meat.
And eating meat will not boost your cholesterol levels. One recent study proved that eating lean meat helps reduce LDL and raise HDL levels. It didn’t matter what kind of meat.9
The best food sources of CoQ10 are fish and meat, in this order:
One thing to remember is that these amounts are all the ubiquinone form. Your body needs 400 mg per day of this form of CoQ10. One kg of meat is about 35 ounces. That means you would have to eat more than two 16 ounce steaks to get 80 mg of the ubiquinone form of CoQ10 from your beef.
A better option would be grass-fed animal meat. Grass-fed beef has much more CoQ10 that feedlot-beef does. That’s because CoQ10 accumulates in the fat around the organs in animals raised on grass. Commercially raised animals are fed an unnatural and toxic diet of grains and hormones. Toxins then collect in the fat instead of nutrients like CoQ10.
2. Get The CoQ10 Your Body Uses – If you can’t get grass-fed animal meat and would like to supplement, I recommend the ubiquinol form of CoQ10. Ubiquinol is the form that already has the electrons your body uses for energy. And it’s eight times more powerful than the old form, ubiquinone.
I suggest you get a minimum of 50 mg of ubiquinol CoQ10 every day. If you have high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol, gingivitis, age-related memory loss, chronic fatigue or are a vegetarian, increase your dose to 100 mg of ubiquinol per day.
1 Judy, W.V., Stogsdill, W.W., Folkers, K., “Myocardial preservation by therapy with coenzyme Q10 during heart surgery,” Clin. Investig. 1993;71(8 Suppl):S155-61
2 Hiroshi, Mabushi, et al, “Reduction of Serum Ubiquinone-10 and Ubiquinol-10 Levels By Atorvastatin in Hypercholesterolemic Patients,” J. Atheroscler. Thromb. 2005; 12(2):111-119
3 “Nucleogenesis: Dihydroorotate dehydrogenase,” Metabolic Database, www.metabolic-database.com
4 Hodgson, J.M., Watts, G.F., Playford, D.A., et al, “Coenzyme Q10 improves blood pressure and glycemic control in a controlled trial in subjects with type 2 diabetes,” Eur. J. Clin. Nutr. Nov. 2002;56(11):1137-42
5 Blasi, M.A., Bovina, C., Carella, G., et al, “Does coenzyme Q10 play a role in opposing oxidative stress in patients with age-related macular degeneration?” Opthalmologica Jan.-Feb. 2001;215(1):51-4
6 Ye, C.Q., Folkers, K., Tamagawa, H., et al, “A modified determination of coenzyme Q10 in human blood and CoQ10 blood levels in diverse patients with allergies,” Biofactors Dec. 1988;1(4):303-6
7 Horowitz, S., “Coenzyme Q10: one antioxidant, many promising implications,” Altern. Comp. Therapies June 2003:111-6
8 Rozen, T.D., Oshinksy, M.L., Gebeline, C.A., et al, “Open label trial of coenzyme Q10 as a migraine preventive,” Cephalgia Mar. 2002;22(2):137-41
9 Sears, A. M.D., The Doctor’s Heart Cure, Dragon Door Publications, Minnesota, 2004