There is no shortcut to better heart health: You really do need to exercise, eat well, and keep a healthy weight in order to have a healthy heart. However, more and more research shows that a common supplement could give your heart and blood vessels a healthy boost.
It’s called Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). This natural substance in the body is also found in foods like organ meats (such as liver or kidneys), sardines, mackerel, chicken, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, and asparagus. Its job is to help your food turn into the energy you need, and it also fights damage to your body’s cells. Low levels of CoQ10 in your body may mean that you have a greater risk for problems like heart disease.
In a recent review study, researchers studied the effect of CoQ10 supplements on a substance called C-reactive protein (CRP). Elevated CRP levels in the blood mean that a person probably has a high level of inflammation somewhere in the body. People with even slightly elevated levels of CRP have been shown to have a greater risk for problems like heart attacks and strokes.
The study results showed that CoQ10 lowered CRP levels, as well as levels of another substance in the body, IL-6, which also increases with inflammation. It’s hard to know the right dose of the supplement. Remember that it’s important to check with your doctor before ever starting any supplement at any dose.
In other new research, scientists looked at the effects of a special version of CoQ10 on the health of blood vessels that carry blood to the heart. The study included 20 men and women aged 60 to 79. Half of the participants took the supplement for six weeks, while the other half took a “dummy” pill that did not have the CoQ10 in it. Afterwards researchers tested how well blood flowed through the arteries of people in the study.
The results were encouraging. The CoQ10 supplement improved blood vessel health by about 42%, so the researchers thought this meant that the risk of heart disease was lowered by 13%.
CoQ10 has already been shown to help the heart in many other ways. It can lower blood pressure, reduce death from heart failure, and lower the risk of a second heart attack. CoQ10 may even reduce side effects of statin drugs, such as muscle pain and weakness. That effect alone could make it easier to keep taking your statin medication, which can be lifesaving.
Cleveland HeartLab/Quest Diagnostics offers a simple blood test to measure CoQ10 levels. Taking the test can help you and your doctor know if you need more CoQ10 and whether taking a supplement is right for you. Just be sure to work with your doctor and keep your heart-healthy lifestyle habits, too!