I recently came across an article from the Vitamin C Foundation about CoQ10, statins and their interconnectedness of Vitamin C. The author of this article thinks that CoQ10 deficiency is The Greatest Medical Tragedy of All Time.
We’re often asked in Customer Service why I don’t recommend Coezyme Q10. Mostly it’s because I think magnesium (ReMag) is much more important. I don’t want to start “a battle of the nutrients” but with my knowledge of magnesium, I’d like to put CoQ10 into perspective.
This article about CoQ10 was prefaced by Peter H. Langsjoen, MD a practicing cardiologist in Tyler, Texas. Langsjoen is the foremost authority on the use of coenzyme Q10 in the treatment of heart disease. His numerous research studies can be found in the world’s most prestigious scientific journals according to Life Extension Magazine. As the title of the article implies, Langsjoen said “We are now in a position to witness the unfolding of the greatest medical tragedy of all time – never before in history has the medical establishment knowingly created a life threatening nutrient deficiency in millions of otherwise healthy people.”
The nutrient deficiency “knowingly created…in millions of otherwise healthy people” is the widespread use of CoQ10-destroying statin drugs prescribed for high cholesterol. I’d like to comment on this article because its exaggerated title shocks the reader into thinking that CoQ10 is THE treatment for heart disease – and it’s not. It may be a necessary supplement for people who continue to take statin drugs, but my modus operandi is to get at the cause of health problems and support the body’s structure and function so they won’t need drugs and they won’t need drugs or supplements for the side effects of drugs. Hit the problem head on and you won’t have to resort to drugs in the first place. All too often allopathic and alternative doctors are in the position of closing the barn door long after all the horses have escaped.
Of course the whole issue of cholesterol being the “cause” of heart disease is being slowly and quietly set aside by allopathic medicine. I’ve written about the mistaken notion that cholesterol is THE cause of heart disease many times.
Let me excerpt from my blog “The Great Cholesterol Con.” The title is inspired by Dr. Malcolm Kendrick’s book with the same name. Kendrick is one of several famous cholesterol experts and researchers whose 2016 BMJ paper is titled, “Lack of an Association or an Inverse Association Between Low-Density-Lipoprotein Cholesterol and Mortality in The Elderly: A Systematic Review.” Dr. Kendrick has been an active critic of cholesterol and statin drugs for many years.
Kendrick’s explanation of the myths surrounding cholesterol and its treatment are still fresh even though the book was written in 2008, and will be new for most people. It’s actually a fun book to read with lots of tongue-in-cheek Scottish humor even though it’s a very serious topic. You really should read this book, it will push aside the last remaining doubts you have about high cholesterol being a cause of heart disease.
I was drawn to the paper and Kendrick’s book because of customers sending us reams of cholesterol tests for interpretation (which we don’t do) and recent blogs about more advanced cholesterol testing. One of the newer test measures subpopulations of lipoproteins and apolipoproteins (lipoprotein(a) (Lp[a]), apolipoprotein A-I (apo A-I), apolipoprotein B (apo B)), and lipoprotein particle composition of LDL and HDL. Now that researchers see that elevating HDL and dropping LDL doesn’t increase lifespan, they are drilling deeper into the cholesterol myth.
About cholesterol testing and cholesterol studies, Kendrick is brutally clear in the introduction to his book. He says, “It has reached the point where I feel like shouting, ‘Listen guys, I know you need to ‘publish or perish’, and the more publicity you can achieve the bigger the next research budget, but you’re scaring people half to death. No one knows what to do or what to believe any more. And by the way, your study was RUBBISH! Now go away, grow your beard, and do some proper boring research that no one can understand.’”
Here’s where I should mention the good news that magnesium is a “natural statin” and helps balance the enzyme that makes cholesterol. So ReMag along with diet and exercise, helps keep your cholesterol from triggering the ire of your doctor who will try to force you to take a statin drug by “scaring you half to death.”
One online practitioner correlates heart disease with autoimmunity. But after that shocking headline she says wants patients to use steroids because they are the main treatment for autoimmune disease! Long-term use of steroids will actually increase all the factors of heart disease: obesity, insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, elevated cholesterol and triglycerides, and hypertension. Steroids also cause magnesium deficiency, which leads to a long list of magnesium deficiency symptoms.
Further on the autoimmunity and heart disease topic – both conditions are associated with inflammation. I won’t go into the physiologic details except to say that magnesium is the body’s most active and effective anti-inflammatory (when your cells are saturated) and calcium is pro-inflammatory (because of excessive calcium intake; excessive Vitamin D intake; excessive dairy intake; and excessive fortification of foods and drinks with calcium). Because calcification is so common allopathic medicine is beginning to diagnose and acknowledge the real cause of heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease with their Coronary Calcium Scan. This scan measures the calcium build up in atherosclerotic plaque, which directly correlates with heart disease including atrial fibrillation. But since there is no drug treatment for calcium build up in the arteries, the test is getting little attention. It certainly caught my attention, however, because saturating the body with ReMag to dissolve the excess calcium is the solution.
The following testimonial gives credence to the above statement. “My wife had open-heart surgery 2½ years ago due mostly to hypertension and obstruction of the coronary arteries. After being on ReMag and ReMyte for several months her blood pressure had dropped from 180/95 to 110/60. Her last echocardiogram showed a healthy and strong heart with an ejection fraction of 60 percent. Her last ultrasound of her carotid artery showed a 30 – 40 percent lessening of calcified occlusions. This is all amazingly good news for us.”
OK, back to CoQ10, AKA Ubiquinone. It’s called a heart medication and that’s exactly how to describe it – as a medication – to treat symptoms – but why not prevent the symptoms in the first place. After all CoQ10 is naturally produced in the body, so why not promote our own production. However I can see Dr. Langsjoen’s concern. He’s in the front lines and sees the horrors of heart failure. He describes the failure of medicine to overcome heart disease. “In my practice of 17 years in Tyler, Texas, I have seen a frightening increase in heart failure secondary to statin usage, ‘statin cardiomyopathy.’ Over the past five years, statins have become more potent, are being prescribed in higher dosages, and are being used with reckless abandon in the elderly and in patients with ‘normal’ cholesterol levels. We are in the midst of a Congestive Heart Failure epidemic in the US with a dramatic increase over the past decade. Are we causing this epidemic through our zealous use of statins? In large part I think the answer is yes. We are now in a position to witness the unfolding of the greatest medical tragedy of all time – never before in history has the medical establishment knowingly create a life threatening nutrient deficiency in millions of otherwise healthy people.”
It’s no wonder that Dr. Langsjoen is trying to plug the dam, shut the barn door and fill up the glass of people who have been caught up in allopathic medicine’s failed attempt to treat heart disease.
However, I have a different position more along the lines of preventive medicine. Since I’ve studied the Krebs cycle for years, I know that CoQ10 is one of the cofactors in the final steps of that cycle to make ATP energy. Six of the previous steps require magnesium. That is so well known in chemistry circles that ATP is called Mg-ATP. It’s not called ATP-CoQ10. The obvious point is that if you don’t have enough magnesium to get you to the final steps, taking a CoQ10 supplement is only going to boost a lesser amount of substrate to make a lesser amount of ATP. It’s only commonsense.
The Krebs cycle goes by many names: Citric acid cycle, ATP cycle, the TCA cycle (tricarboxylic acid cycle). This cycle is a series of chemical reactions used by all aerobic organisms to release stored energy through the oxidation of acetyl-CoA derived from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins into adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and carbon dioxide. BAM! That’s how Food becomes Energy. And that process requires magnesium in six steps and CoQ10 in one step. So, as you can see, I’m placing my bets on magnesium as being the more important cofactor in this process.
Coenzyme Q10 is not a vitamin; it’s a vitamin-like fat-soluble antioxidant produced by the body and found in highest concentrations in the heart and pancreas. Maybe that’s because they are our hardest working organs and their mitochondria pump out energy constantly. It is said that young adults have higher concentrations of CoQ10 in the heart then the elderly – but the same can be said for magnesium in the heart, and in the whole body. So, in true allopathic fashion, alternative medicine practitioners say that we should give supplemental CoQ10 to everyone as they age. However that jumps over the more commonsense approach to make sure the body has the building blocks for making its own CoQ10 at any age instead of some synthetic chemical from a lab.
Here is all I was able to find on how CoQ10 supplements are produced – they are fermented from yeast or processed from bacteria or tobacco derivatives. That doesn’t exactly make me feel comfortable with recommending these supplements especially since you can take the proper building blocks for making your own CoQ10 as God and nature intended. Your body makes CoQ10 in a 17-step process that requires Vitamin C (coming soon in our Whole C ReSet) the B vitamins, which we have in methylated and food-based form in ReAline, and several minerals, which are in ReMag, ReMyte, and our recommended sea salted drinking water.
Statins block the enzyme responsible for cholesterol production (HMG CoA reductase) whereas magnesium speeds up or slows down the activity of that enzyme to create the right amount of cholesterol in the body. Statins also block CoQ10 production because it required the same enzyme (HMG CoA reductase). So, magnesium, by being responsible for the activity of HMG CoA reductase, is helping CoQ10 activity and it is required for CoQ10 production.
The article says that apparently Merck has known for more than 15 years that statin drugs interfere with CoQ10 biosynthesis, however I found studies as early 1990 exploring the statin, HMG CoA reductase, CoQ10 deficiency question. That’s thirty years ago. Proof also lies in the fact that Merck published a patent claim in 1990 (#4,933,165), which discusses the addition of CoQ10 to statin drugs, in order to overcome statin induced myopathy. Of course this never happened.
CoQ10 has a moderate list of attributes from various animal and human studies but it basically provides energy to cells via the Krebs cycle and acts like an antioxidant. Apply those two qualities to any disease and you will naturally get an uptick in health. The more I look into CoQ10, the more I maintain my position that CoQ10 is not a foundational nutrient like magnesium. CoQ10 supports only one of the eight steps in the Krebs cycle compared to magnesium supporting six. And magnesium is also an antioxidant and probably more important than CoQ10. Magnesium is responsible for 1,000 enzymatic processes and 80% of known metabolic functions. CoQ10 may only support one enzyme – HMG CoA Reductase.
In the supplement industry I’ve observed that a few positive studies of a nutrient will spur on the creation of a new supplement without an in depth analysis whether a supplement is really needed. We have a mind-boggling 55,000 supplement products on the market today, which often serve to confound and confuse the consumer. I have found that we only require a handful of synergistic, well absorbed supplements that provide the building blocks for every cell in the body. However, when so-called “authorities” tell you that you Must Have or Need to Have this supplement and Can’t Live Without that supplement, they are practicing fear-based medicine, much like allopathic doctors do when they tell you that you Must Take statin drugs.
This article that I’m commenting on was written by the Vitamin C Foundation, so naturally they brought in the Vitamin C connection, however they equate ascorbic acid with Vitamin C. I’ll first describe why I think whole food Vitamin C is superior to ascorbic acid.
According to their website The Vitamin C Foundation “is the world’s best information source on Vitamin C – Ascorbic Acid (C6H8O6). The Foundation’s mission is to increase public knowledge about the extraordinary therapeutic value of supplemental Vitamin C.”
Nowhere on their website did I find a discussion comparing Vitamin C Complex and Ascorbic acid. For many decades, in the minds of the public and practitioners, ascorbic acid has been synonymous with Vitamin C and that’s just not the case.
I turn to my friend, Kathleen Barnes who wrote a very interesting blog to answer the question “Is Vitamin C the Same as Ascorbic Acid? in January 2016.
Ms. Barnes reminds us that in the midst of cold and flu season “Ascorbic acid is only one of a complex variety of elements that make up the Vitamin C molecule. Alone, it may have some mild antibiotic effects, so if you have any kind of bacterial infection, large amounts of cheap ascorbic acid might offer some relief.”
This I didn’t know but counter to most of the alternative medicine community she says that “Taken on a long-term basis, ascorbic acid has been found to cause atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), cause the breakdown of collagen in the arteries, kidney stones and more health problems, according to a 2012 study from the Women’s Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute.”
According to Ms. Barnes, ascorbic acid is only one element of the Vitamin C complex. Apparently, isolating the most active chemical substance in herbs and vitamins seems to be the focus of nutritional science. In fact, she says “All vitamins are extremely complex molecules that contain a large number of factors, some of which science hasn’t even identified. They work in concert, to produce health benefits that are far beyond those produced by one element, known as an isolate. And these elements are inseparable, meaning their benefits can only be realized when taken as part of a whole food molecule.”
When I was doing research for my new food-based Vitamin C, I learned from Ms. Barnes that “There is a synergistic effect of the multiple components of Vitamin C, including a number of inseparable co-factors, such as rutin, bio-flavonoids (vitamin p), factor k, factor j, factor p, ascorbinogen, protein chaperones, and various enzymes like tyrosinase, which together in their entirety constitute the whole food complex.”
Why are nutrients separated from their whole food source? Because isolates like ascorbic acid are cheaper to produce especially when they are chemically rendered in a lab.
We all know that Vitamin C prevents scurvy but you may not know that it was in the early 1700s that “a British doctor discovered that eating citrus fruits cured the scurvy (a Vitamin C deficiency disease) so prevalent among sailors who spent months at sea and got very little fresh food. Hence, the name “limeys” for those sailors who were given a lime a day to prevent scurvy.”
It wasn’t until 1930’s that Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, a Hungarian biochemist, isolated ascorbic acid from red peppers. According to Ms. Barnes, “What he also found, which has mostly been ignored until recently, was that ascorbic acid was far more biologically available and active while it was still in the red pepper.”
Vitamin C is apparently a natural HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor. When Vitamin C levels are low, cholesterol becomes elevated; and when more vitamin C is consumed, cholesterol levels decline. The mechanism by which vitamin C lowers cholesterol was only discovered around 1985. High vitamin C levels inhibit the same the HMG-CoA Reductase enzyme as statin drugs. Vitamin C promotes the production of coenzyme Q10 and lowers the Lp(a) form of cholesterol.
We can make CoQ10 but it’s well known that humans cannot make vitamin C. Comparing humans to mammals has led some nutrient researchers to theorize that we should take several thousand milligrams of vitamin C to keep up with our four footed friends. I haven’t completely joined that camp although I do say that 500mg a day of a food-based Vitamin C Complex and possibly 1-2,000 mg of ascorbic acid when the adrenals are under stress or during cold and flu season are reasonable recommendations. However, what we may be doing when we consider individual nutrients is to assign them a higher dosage not realizing that when we take a synergistic blend of nutrients, like the Completement Formulas, we don’t require them in high amounts.
The Vitamin C Foundation recommends 10,000 mg or more ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) and 300 mg or more of ubiquinone (CoQ10) daily to prevent heart disease. I find it surprising that they completely leave magnesium out of the picture. I say that magnesium in the form of ReMag along with our other Completement Formulas including our Whole C ReSet and 1-2,000mg of ascorbic acid will help you produce your own CoQ10 and will take care of your heart and the rest of your body as well.
I hope this dissertation helps clear up the question that many customers have about CoQ10 and the role it plays in our health.
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Carolyn Dean MD ND
The Doctor of the Future®
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