Co-Q 10: A Reader's Inquiry Into This Critical Heart Nutrient

The following is a reproduction of a Millennium Health Centre editorial article which appeared in the Seaway News newspaper in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada. The content is shortened to accommodate a newspaper space allotment. As such, it is not academically cited with references. These are available, so please feel free to email your questions.


Dr. Stephen F. Jones B.Comm., N.D.
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

It's always a delight to receive letters from readers. Not only do they let me know the topics reader's want information about, they also let me know that someone reads my ramblings.

Well, one recent letter asked some particularly good questions about a 'neutraceutical' (natural chemical) called Ubiquinone, commonly known as Co-Q10. In particular, she asked if Co-Q10 could "prevent congestive heart failure (C.H.F.), or help C.H.F. if a person already had it". She also asked if any other 'vitamins' could help C.H.F. Well, this lady has touched upon a topic about which all heart disease patients should be aware.

Co-Q10 is not a vitamin, but rather a 'neutraceutical' (natural chemical) that is absolutely essential to every cell of the body because it provides a key 'ingredient' needed to make something called 'ATP'. This 'ATP' is the 'fuel' that cells use to work and survive. Without it, the body's various organs simply can not function properly.

So, why is this biochemical information relevant? Well, the heart is an extremely active muscle that requires a vast amount of this 'ATP' fuel. Simply put, for the heart to effectively pump blood it requires an abundance of Co-Q10 to make the needed 'ATP'. Not surprisingly then, a number of heart diseases have been associated with insufficient Co-Q10, including angina (Am Journal of Cardiology, 1985), heart attack (Cardiovascular Drug Ther, 1998), arrhythmias (Tohoku J Exp Med, 1983) and, indeed, C.H.F. In fact, biopsy results of heart disease patients have shown deficiencies of Co-Q10 50 to 75 percent of the time ! (Proc Natl Acad Sci, 1985).

Worth noting by heart patients is that these deficient levels of Co-Q10 can be caused by heart medications themselves. Cholesterol lowering medications (Lipitor, Lovastatin, Pravocol), 'beta blocker' medications (Metoprolol, Atenolol) and even 'water pills' (hydrochlorothiazide) will all directly deplete the body's stores of Co-Q10.

So, the reader's question was whether Co-Q10 could "prevent" C.H.F. While one can not state that Co-Q10 will definitively 'prevent' C.H.F., there is ample evidence that using Co-Q10 will, indeed, help a patient who has C.H.F. This evidence also suggests that Co-Q10 may, indeed, provide protection against developing C.H.F.

In one of the largest studies to date on Co-Q10 and C.H.F., a review after only 3 months' use of Co-Q10 showed that 52.7 % of patients had improvements in their shortness of breath, 75.4% had fewer heart palpitations, 71.8% had a decrease in their vein 'congestion' and 78.6% had a decrease in fluid retention (as published in Mol Aspect Med, 1994). While more study would be helpful, existing research through numerous (other) studies indicates that Co-Q10 is certainly effective, safe and can reduce the severity of the C.H.F.

The only concern with Co-Q10 is that it is an unstable substance that has been repeatedly shown to be inactive and very poorly absorbed when it appears in a pill form. Accordingly, your body will not get full benefit from taking the supplement. Recent manufacturing advancements, however, have improved upon this dilemma with a form of Co-Q10 that dissolves in your mouth. Studies indicate that this Co-Q10 is more stable and has significantly better absorption.

The reader also asked if other 'vitamins' could treat C.H.F. As space limits detailed discussion, suffice it to say that several options do exist. Of these, certain 'amino acids' have been shown to be quite effective in treating C.H.F.

Carnitine is one such amino acid. Studies have shown that patients given a specific dose of Carnitine had a significant reduction in death rates, as well as improved heart rate and decreased angina pains (as published in the journals Drugs Exp Clin Res, 1992; Postgrad Med J, 1996).

Likewise, the medical journal Circulation (1996) showed that use of the amino acid Arginine in C.H.F. patients resulted in a significant improvement in blood flow and overall heart function.

As with any medicine, use of these 'natural' interventions requires close supervision by a doctor familiar with the medicines. I hope this answers the reader's questions. Best of luck and health.

If you have any inquiries or requests for future columns, please contact the Seaway News or email Dr. Jones at