The following article was written by Skip Franzsen, South Africa and first appeared on this website on 9 Dec 2015.
Many doctors routinely prescribe statin drugs as a treatment for high cholesterol. It is a huge and highly profitable industry. In his article ‘Statin Drugs Create Over 60,000 New Diabetics Each Year’, Dr Mercola gives what I consider to be a very balanced medical view of the problems associated with statins.
A significant problem is that statins inhibit the production of Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), a key enzyme which is blocked when statins interfere with the production of cholesterol in the liver; and a ‘severe lack of Coenzyme Q10 can result in congestive heart failure as the heart cells lack the energy they need to function’ (Health Eating Politics, no date). Low levels of CoQ10 in the presence of statins drugs can also lead to other physical problems such as muscle pain.
In researching this, I discovered that CoQ10 should be recommended as a supplement if your doctor has prescribed a statin drug. That is, you should routinely be informed to take CoQ10 at the same time that you’re prescribed a statin. One recommendation is that healthy people take 100mg per day of CoQ10 and that this should be increased to 200mg per day for those with heart disease or hypertension (see Healthy Eating Politics, no date). In his article ‘A cardiologist looks at CoQ10’, Graveline (no date) suggests that ‘token dosing’ may be ineffective and that a therapeutic dose is required which may vary depending on the individual.
This is news to me and I was taking statins daily for more than 15 years. In effect, I was deprived of a very important energy enzyme to some extent for 15 years. Other common side effects of statins include the development of diabetes, and muscle pain. Looking back, I wonder if the back pain that I suffered for years was more the result of a deficiency in CoQ10 than excess weight. Certainly, to my great surprise, my back pain has simply disappeared.
The use of CoQ10 as a supplement is another potentially huge industry. If you have purchased this product you will no doubt have been surprised at the high cost, often more expensive than the statin. CoQ10 is naturally created by a normally functioning human body; however ‘once maturity is reached most people lose their ability to synthesize sufficient CoQ10 for their energy needs and must depend increasingly upon dietary sources alone. With age, dietary sources become inadequate and bioavailability of CoQ10 becomes deficient in many’ (spacedoc.com, no date).
Body cell energy is dependent on CoQ10 for normal function and energy which is highly concentrated in nerve cells and heart muscle cells – all high energy users. Most cells contain between 500 and 2000 mitochondria, but heart muscle cells contain as many as 5000.
If you have been on statin drugs for some time without taking CoQ10 it may be worth considering if your body CoQ10 levels have been depleted, and if you need supplementation (with a therapeutic dose) to recover faster. It may also be useful to take a supplement if your energy levels are low, perhaps due to an age-related deficiency. At the start of my Banting journey when I was unfit and overweight, I supplemented with CoQ10 for two months, particularly because I had just started cardio exercise (walking) to improve my fitness. Today, more than one year into Banting, I no longer take nor need supplements. I am much leaner and fitter and my energy level has recovered and is still good. And there is still no sign of that back pain that impacted on my full golf swing for years.
Graveline, Duane (no date). ‘A cardiologist looks at CoQ10’ on website Spacedoc.com, http://www.spacedoc.com/articles/a-cardiologist-looks-at-coq10, last accessed 7 Dec 2015.
Graveline, Duane (2011). ‘Statins and CoQ10 deficiency’, July 2011, on website Spacedoc.com, http://www.spacedoc.com/articles/statins-and-coq10-deficiency, last accessed 7 Dec 2015.
Healthy Eating Politics (no date). ‘CoQ10, Statins and Cell Energy’, on website Healthy Eating Politics: Alternative Views on Food and Health, http://www.healthy-eating-politics.com/coq10.html, last accessed 7 Dec 2015.
Mercola, Joseph (2012). ‘Statin Drugs Create Over 60,000 New Diabetics Each Year’, on website Mercola.com, http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/05/06/fda-warning-on-statins.aspx, last accessed 3 Dec 2015.
Spacedoc.com (no date). ‘Peter H. Langsjoen, M.D., F.A.C.C’, on website Spacedoc.com, http://www.spacedoc.com/articles/peter-langsjoen, last accessed 7 Dec 2015.
Resources for Further Reading
Sabine (no surname, 2007). ‘Coenzyme Q10’, blog post on Dr Thomas Cowan Holistic Family Medicine website, http://fourfoldhealing.com/2007/12/30/coenzyme-q10/, last accessed 7 Dec 2015.
Colpo, Anthony (2006). The Great Cholesterol Con. Paperback available from Amazon.com, http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1430309334?ie=UTF8&tag=healeatipoli-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1430309334, last accessed 9 Dec 2015.
Graveline, Duane (no date). ‘CoQ10 An Independent Predictor of CHF Mortality, on Spacedoc.com, http://www.spacedoc.com/articles/coq10-and-chf-mortality, last accessed 7 Dec 2015.
Graveline, Duane (2006). Lipitor Thief of Memory, paperback available from Amazon.com, http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1424301629?ie=UTF8&tag=healeatipoli-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1424301629, last accessed 9 Dec 2015.
Langsjoen, Peter H. (no date). ‘Coenzyme Q10’, on the website SavvyPatients.com, http://www.savvypatients.com/coenzyme.htm, last accessed 7 Dec 2015.
McKendrick, Malcolm (2008). The Great Cholesterol Con: The Truth About What Really Causes Heart Disease and How to Avoid It, John Blake Publishing, London. Paperback available from Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1424301629?ie=UTF8&tag=healeatipoli-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1424301629, last accessed 9 Dec 2015.
Spacedoc.com Forums, anecdotal evidence about the damage statins cause to individual health, http://www.spacedoc.com/board/viewtopic.php?t=1214&start=0&postdays=0&postorder=asc&highlight=&sid=f381987ccf1845466391d27b447d30ff, last accessed 9 Dec 2015.
THINCS: The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics, http://www.thincs.org/, last accessed 9 Dec 2015.