What Do Statin Drugs Really Do? What do you do?

Millions of people are prescribe a range of cholesterol lowering statin drugs such as Crestor, Zocor, Lipitor, Simvatain, and other drugs, and the herbal supplement red rice yeast. These do indeed reduce the levels of cholesterol. There is a whole discussion about whether cholesterol causes heart disease or not, but I won’t address that here. Let’s take a look at how these drugs work.

These statin drugs don’t directly lower cholesterol levels, what they do is disrupt the metabolic pathwah which ultimatly produces cholesterol. ( HMG-CoA reductase pathway).  The statin drugs block one of the enzymes 27 steps before cholesterol production. At each step of this chain of chemical reactions there are other beneficial chemicals produced by the many branches.

One of the very important products of this metabolic pathway is CoEnzyme Q10 (CoQ10). So Statins not only hamper the production of cholesterol, but also CoQ10.   CoQ10 is an important mitochondrial cofactor (Mitochondria are the cells’ energy-producing organelles.).  When you deprive every muscle cell in your body of CoQ10, you lose strength and may experience muscle pain.  Guess which muscle has the most mitochondria and produces the most energy? Your heart. When your heart can’t produce enough energy to pump blood efficiently you experience congestive heart failure. This disease has drastically increased since statin drugs were introduced.

Cholesterol itself is the precursor to some very important and critical vitamins as well – Cholesterol in your skin is converted to Vitamin D by sunlight.  So if you take statin drugs to lower cholesterol then you also reduce your ability to produce vitamin D from sunlight. People trying to reduce tehir cholesterol will also probably reduce the amount of cholesterol rich foods, which just so happen to be the foods highest in vitamin D.

So what do you do? First consider if you really need to take statin drugs.  Consider this, over half of all people who are brought to the emergency room with heart attacks have normal or low cholesterol. Not what you’d expect.  So, if you are going to stay on statin drugs then you must supplement with CoEnzyme Q10 and Vitamin D.

Below is a recent study which was published which looked at the incidence of muscle pain in statin taking patients compared to non statin taking individuals.

The January, 2013 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology published the finding of Danish researchers of reductions in glucose tolerance and coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) levels in men treated with simvastatin, one of several statin drugs commonly prescribed to lower high cholesterol.

What is CoQ10 good for?

I had a friend ask this question a while back, so here a recent research just out showing the benefits of CoQ10 or Coenzyme Q10 supplementation lowering interleukin-6 and providing antioxidant benefits in coronary artery disease patients.

Inflammation plays a role in the development of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the Western world. While coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) supplementation can benefit the heart, few studies have investigated its role in protecting against inflammation in heart disease patients.

In a trial described in an article published on February 16, 2012 in the journal Nutrition, researchers at Chung Shan Medical University in Taiwan compared the effects of twelve weeks of supplementation with 60 or 150 milligrams per day of CoQ10, or a placebo in 40 men and women with coronary artery disease. Plasma CoQ10 levels, markers of inflammation including high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), interleukin-6 and homocysteine; malondialdehyde (a marker of lipid peroxidation) and levels of the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD) were measured before and after the treatment period.

At the beginning of the study, having a higher CoQ10 level was associated with a lower level of interleukin-6 and C-reactive protein. By the end of the treatment period, plasma coenzyme Q10 levels increased in both groups that received the supplement. Among those who received the higher dose, interleukin-6 levels decreased by 14 percent and malondialdehyde levels were significantly lower by the end of the trial compared to baseline levels. Both groups that received CoQ10 experienced greater SOD activity. A non-significant reduction in hs-CRP values was observed in association with CoQ10 supplementation.

“Cell culture experiments have demonstrated that coenzyme Q10 can moderate the anti-inflammatory effects of antioxidant activities and by nuclear factor-kappa beta1–dependent gene expression,” they write. “In the present study, coenzyme Q10 supplements at a dose of 150 milligrams showed a significant antioxidization effect in decreasing the malondialdehyde level and slightly increasing SOD activities after 12 weeks of intervention.”

“Coenzyme Q10 supplementation at a dosage of 150 milligrams appears to decrease the inflammatory marker interleukin-6 in patients with coronary artery disease,” the authors conclude. “Long-term studies are needed to establish the beneficial effects of higher-dosage coenzyme Q10 supplementation on inflammation in patients with coronary artery disease.”
(Above from LEF.org)

CoQ10 is especially if you’ve been prescribed statins to lower cholesterol. Statin drugs lower cholesterol by poisoning the metabolic pathway which produces cholesterol and in the process the bodies normal production of CoQ10 along with sex hormones are also poisoned. You’ll hear the warnings that if you take statins to watch out for muscle pain, this is because with lowered levels of CoQ10 you’re muscles can’t produced the energy they should. More dangerous than aching legs is what the reduced levels of CoQ10 do to your most powerful muscle, your heart. when the heart can’t pump enough blood due to reduced CoQ10 blood and fluids begin to back up in your lungs and the result is congestive heart failure. So if you are taking statins you must also supplement with CoQ10. Since statin drugs were introduced there has been a huge rise in deaths from congestive heart failure – but their cholesterol is lower.

Athletes will also burn up a lot of CoQ10 during strenuous workouts so they also should supplement to replace what they use up and many will also use CoQ10 to improve performance.

As usual, if you do take CoQ10 supplements make sure you use a reputable company who manufacture to certified pharmaceutical manufacturing procedures. I’ve personally visited a number of supplement manufactures as well as pharmaceutical drug manufacture and the quality control in many is woefully lacking. There are very few companies you can truly trust to consistently provide exactly what is listed on the label and nothing else.

Worried about Alzheimer’s Disease? Take care of your mitochondria.

Before Alzheimer’s patients experience memory loss, the brain’s neurons have already suffered harm for years.A new study in mouse models by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center has found that the brain’s mitochondria – the powerhouses of the cell – are one of the earliest casualties of the disease. The study, which appeared in the online Early Edition of PNAS, also found that impaired mitochondria then injure the neurons’ synapses, which are necessary for normal brain function (see also Alzheimer Disease).
“The damage to synapses is one of the earliest events in Alzheimer’s disease, but we haven’t been able to work out the events that lead to the damage,” says the study’s principle investigator, ShiDu Yan, M.D., professor of clinical pathology and cell biology in the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain at Columbia University Medical Center. “Our new findings, along with previous research, suggest that mitochondrial changes harm the synapses, and that we may be able to slow down Alzheimer’s at a very early stage by improving mitochondrial function.”
Drugs that restore mitochondria function may be able to treat Alzheimer’s disease in its earliest stages. One potential drug, cyclosporin, is already used in organ transplant and autoimmune patients. Cyclosporin suppresses the immune system, but it also blocks amyloid beta (Abeta) peptides-induced mitochondrial injury, Dr. Yan has found in previous studies (Du et al. Nature Medicine, 2008).
Cyclosporin, however, has too many toxic side effects for long term use in other patients. Dr. Yan is currently trying to alter the chemical structure of the drug to reduce its toxicity and to improve its ability to cross the blood brain barrier but preserve its protective effect on Abeta-mediated toxicity.
Most Alzheimer’s researchers initially believed that Abeta peptides caused the disease after aggregating together in large, extracellular plaques, a defining feature of Alzheimer’s-affected brains. But Dr.Yan’s findings, along with those of many other scientists, now point to an earlier role for Abeta peptides inside the brain’s neurons.
The mitochondria are damaged, the researchers found, when (Abeta) peptides breach the mitochondria’s walls and accumulate on the inside. Even low concentrations of Abeta peptides, equivalent to the levels found in cells years before symptoms appear, impair the mitochondria, particularly mitochondria that supply power to the neuron’s synapses.
When filled with Abeta peptides, these synaptic mitochondria were unable to travel down the neurons’ long axons to reach, and fuel, the synapse. And the mitochondria that did make the journey failed to provide adequate energy to operate the synapses. Without operating synapses, neurons are unable to function.
“Since cyclosporin is already FDA approved for use in organ transplant and autoimmune patients, this research has the potential to lead to more rapid clinical trials and progress quickly,” said Dr. Yan.
Next, Dr. Yan and her team also plan to do more research on the role of tau, which like beta amyloid, is the protein associated most with the plaques and tangles seen at autopsy in the brains of those with Alzheimer’s.
So how do you take care of your mitochondria? Three key nutrients are critical for mitochondria health: Coenzyme Q10, Alpha Lipoic Acid, and L-Carnitine.

Coenzyme Q10 levels reduced in chronic fatigue syndrome

In a recent article published in Neuroendocrinology Letters, researchers from Belgium and Poland report that plasma coenzyme Q10 levels are significantly lower in individuals with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), a chronic disease characterized by extreme fatigue and inflammatory, autonomic and neuropsychiatric symptoms.
The current study compared the plasma CoQ10 levels of 58 men and women diagnosed with ME/CFS to 22 healthy control patients. Disease symptoms and severity were evaluated through the use of the Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Rating Scale (FF Scale).
A significant reduction in CoQ10 levels was observed among ME/CFS patients compared with the control group. As many as 44.8 percent of these patients had levels that were less than the lowest CoQ10 value detected in healthy patients, which was 490 micrograms per liter. Increased CoQ10 levels predicted a reduction in total FF Scale scores and individual fatigue and autonomic symptoms. Levels of CoQ10 below 390 micrograms per liter were associated with a decrease in memory and concentration ability.
In their discussion of the findings, the authors remark that reduced levels of CoQ10 may decrease antioxidative protection, resulting in damage to membrane fatty acids and proteins. Coenzyme Q10 also helps protect the mitochondria, the cells’ energy-producing plants, from damage caused by free radical generation. Additionally, CoQ10 has anti-inflammatory and other properties, and is involved in the mitochondria’s production of energy (it has been hypothesized that most individuals with ME/CFS experience low energy due to cellular energy dysfunction).
The authors also note that fatigue and neurocognitive disorders are often an effect of statin drug use, and that statins have been shown to deplete plasma CoQ10.
“This is a first study which shows that ME/CFS is accompanied by significantly reduced plasma concentrations of CoQ10 and that lowered plasma CoQ10 is related to specific symptoms of ME/CFS, such as fatigue, autonomic and neurocognitive symptoms,” the authors announce.
“Our results suggest that patients with ME/CFS would benefit from CoQ10 supplementation in order to normalize the low CoQ10 syndrome and the inflammatory and oxidative and nitrosative stress disorders,” they conclude. “The finding that lower CoQ10 is an independent predictor of chronic heart failure (CHF) and mortality due to CHF may explain previous reports that the mean age of ME/CFS patients dying from CHF is 25 years younger than the age of those dying from CHF in the general population. Since statins significantly decrease plasma CoQ10, ME/CFS should be regarded as a relative contraindication for treatment with statins without CoQ10 supplementation.”

CoQ10 Improves Aging Skin Health

Did you know that aging skin is functionally anaerobic. Skin cell energy metabolism shifts to a predominantly non-mitochondrial pathway and is therefore functionally anaerobic with advancing age. Since coenzyme Q10 positively affects cell metabolism, it is is beneficial for human skin as it rapidly improves mitochondrial function in skin in vivo. In other worlds, taking Coenzyme Q10 will help your skin keep looking younger.