Have you ever thought why a living organism does not go on forever? Even with modern science and the latest technologies available, the average human being lives only to their mid-to-late seventies. There are individuals who live longer, although it is unheard of in these days for someone to live more than 115 or 120 years.
So what exactly happens?
There are various theories as to why our cells die. Obviously, our cells can be injured and die because of various diseases and agents. But even those unusual individuals who remain healthy well into their eighties and nineties eventually do cease to exist.
There is a theory that our cells can only reproduce so long with a set number of replications. The theory is that our cells are preprogrammed at birth to stop replicating at a certain point in time and to commit suicide, as it were. This condition of preprogrammed cell death is known as apoptosis. Scientists have been doing much research in the area of apoptosis hoping against hope that there is away to offset this biological clock. If this could be done, theoretically, people could live a lot longer.
It is with interest that I came across an article in the current issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry concerning the nutrient coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and apoptosis. Previous studies in both the test tube and animals have demonstrated that CoQ10 can prevent apoptosis in certain situations. Scientists speculated that it could be related to the free radical scavenging ability of CoQ10 or in some way directly related to mitochondrial function. The mithochondria produce the energy molecule called ATP and adequate levels of ATP are required for cells to stay healthy and function properly. In this study out of Italy, researchers showed that CoQ10 had some direct effect on the mitochondrial membrane leading to inhibition of apoptosis (cell death).
This study was quite interesting, although I certainly don’t want you to come away from this blog post with the idea that by taking CoQ10 you will live forever. This has certainly not been proven in human beings. Nevertheless, the data is quite fascinating and it may be that long term use of CoQ10 can have some positive effect on longevity. CoQ10 is clearly proven in numerous human studies to have numerous benefits regarding neurological function/protection and cardiovascular function/protection.
As an interesting aside, in an article published last month in the prestigious journal Neurology, the authors measured CoQ10 levels in muscle biopsies in 135 patients with a condition known as cerebellar ataxia (unsteadiness of gait). Thirteen of these patients had childhood onset of this ataxia and had markedly decreased levels of CoQ10. Associated symptoms included seizures, developmental delay, mental retardation and other abnormalities. The authors of this study suggested that certain forms of childhood cerebellar ataxia may be responsive to CoQ10 supplementation.
I had previously reported on an important study on CoQ10 concerning Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease is a horrible disease associated with aging that affects the part of the brain that controls movement. It is well known that by age 65 people have lost a significant portion of their brains cells that produce dopamine. Dopamine is a critical neurotransmitter required by the brain and nervous system to control movement. In the Parkinson’s CoQ10 study, patients were randomized to receive either 300, 600 or 1200 mg of CoQ10 daily with a fourth group receiving placebo. The study was a double-blind study which is one of the more stringent types of studies.
At the end of the one year period, the individuals taking the highest amounts of CoQ10 had the greatest slow down in progression of their Parkinson’s disease. There were no serious side effects in the CoQ10 group. To date there has never been a drug that has clearly demonstrated effectiveness in slowing down progression of Parkinson’s disease, not to mention a drug that is side effect free. Since that study came out many months ago, I have been routinely prescribing high dose CoQ10 to all of my Parkinson’s patients.
Although CoQ10 is a very exciting and novel nutrient, it is unfortunately very expensive. Most people take 30 – 100 mg per day for general health. Look for a supplement of the highest quality, pharmaceutical grade CoQ10 and take 300 to 1200 mg a day of CoQ10 for best results.
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