Over the last couple of years that I’ve been doing these blogs, I’ve certainly spent a fair amount of time discussing the cardiovascular and antioxidant benefits of Co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10).
I had no immediate plans of doing another blog post on this nutrient, but a report in the medical literature out this week compels me to do so. As a matter of fact, earlier this evening I had received a call from one of my patients who had seen the article, asking me about this nutritional supplement. As a neurologist in practice almost 20 years I have probably treated a thousand patients with Parkinson’s disease.
What is it?
Parkinson’s disease is a common and potentially devastating neurological disorder that occurs with aging. Recent research indicates that at around age 40 people start to lose brain cells in an area of the brain that controls movement. With each decade after age 40 they can lose another 10% of the neurons. When the level of surviving neurons reaches about 30% they develop Parkinson’s symptoms that include shaking, rigidity and slowness of movement. As the disease becomes more advanced balance can be affected and eventually the ability to move. There are some unfortunate people, such as the actor Michael J. Fox, that develop the disease at a much younger age. There is no cure and the current drugs only treat the symptoms and have serious side effects.
Research with CoQ10
In the latest edition of the Archives of Neurology, researchers from ten medical institutions throughout the United States reported on a sixteen month trial in patients with early Parkinson’s disease. The eighty patients were assigned to four different groups: placebo, and CoQ10 at doses of 300 mg, 600 mg or 1200 mg daily. As noted above, it was a multi-center study which was randomized and double-blinded. At the end of the sixteen month trial, those patients taking CoQ10 had an overall slower progression of their condition compared to the placebo group. The group that did the best was those taking 1200 mg a day which resulted in a dramatic 44% reduction in progression. The authors concluded that CoQ10 appears to slow the progressive deterioration of function in Parkinson’s disease.
I was previously aware that this study was underway. I had learned of this study several months ago when I had reported on the benefits of CoQ10 in a rare neurological condition known as Huntingdon’s chorea. This is a totally untreatable disease leading to involuntary movement and severe dementia and death. CoQ10 at 600 mg a day seemed to have some modest benefit in slowing down the progression of this deadly disorder. CoQ10 is a potent antioxidant and has powerful neuroprotective benefits. In addition, it is an integral part of energy production within the mitochondria of our cells. As we age these mitochondria die which can lead to cell death of the heart muscles and brain neurons. CoQ10 appears to slow or prevent this. Other studies in the medical literature have indicated that CoQ10 can improve cardiac function along with immune function.
Based on this study I will certainly be recommending that all of my Parkinson’s patients be on CoQ10. It is important to use the correct doses and make sure the CoQ10 is pharmaceutical grade.
Look for a high potency pharmaceutical grade 200 mg CoQ10 supplement in addition to 30 mg, 60 mg and 100 mg dosages. If you have Parkinson’s disease or have a family member with Parkinson’s disease or want excellent neurological protection, I would strongly recommend that you start this important nutrient today.