Statin Drugs: Revealing the Dark-Side of Cholesterol-Lowering Medications

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“Statin” medications, like LipitorTM or CrestorTM, are among the most prescribed drugs in the world. While effective at lowering cholesterol levels, they are also notoriously known for their adverse effects, which include muscle pain and tenderness, weakness, fatigue, and memory loss or confusion.

Understanding why these negative side-effects occur is important to ensure you’re taking your medications in the best—and safest—way possible. So let’s talk little bit about what statins do. Since it’s estimated that 80% of the cholesterol in the body is produced internally, the best way to lower cholesterol is to target the body’s internal production. Statins do this by blocking a key step in cholesterol production, and that’s why they’re so effective. However, this same step is needed by our bodies to produce many other critical compounds, among the most important is coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10).

CoQ10 is found in every cell of the body, in a compartment called the mitochondria. Known as the “powerhouse” of the cell, the mitochondria provides about 90% of the cells’ energy (which is required for almost everything that goes on in a cell). Without CoQ10, energy production fails, and the cell’s functioning is compromised. This is why the side-effects of statins are typically related to tissues that are highly metabolically active—muscles, brain, and heart. Statins essentially induce a state of CoQ10 deficiency.

Also with age, our bodies naturally start to produce less CoQ10. Research has shown this is one of the key changes that jump starts the aging process, and the age-related diseases that follow. When the effects of statin drugs are added on top of this natural decline in CoQ10, a number of age-related diseases are accelerated—and it’s all related back to a lack of cellular energy production.

For heart cells, that means they can’t pump blood effectively, setting the stage for congestive heart failure and other serious health conditions. The simple solution is to take supplemental CoQ10, and decades of research have shown that it can boost CoQ10 levels to youthful levels.

In fact, if you’re taking a statin medication, you MUST take CoQ10 as well. A typical recommendation for anyone on statins is at least of 200 mg daily. For best absorption, take CoQ10 in divided doses with your meals (it’s best absorbed with some fat).

While CoQ10 has shown to have amazing benefits across many health conditions, one of the main limiting factors in its therapeutic potential is its absorption. There have been many attempts over decades to improve absorption of CoQ10, but the clear winner is ubiquinol, the “active” form of CoQ10 your body can use readily.

“Standard” CoQ10 supplements have poor absorption and need to be converted to ubiquinol by the body. By taking ubiquinol directly, you overcome both these challenges. However, taking ubiquinol has its own challenges, and the main one is stability. Ubiquinol supplements can rapidly oxidize quickly reverting to standard CoQ10—and losing all the benefits that come with ubiquinol.

So what’s the solution to ensure the superior efficacy of ubiquinol is intact when a consumer/patient takes it? The secret is in a patented process that ensures a finished product stays as ubiquinol right through to the expiry date (and most times beyond). Employing this process may make the products a little more expensive, but will ensure the high quality of the product. Our brand of CoQ10 (ubiquinol) does use this patent in Canada under an exclusive license and is therefore the only line of CoQ10 that can actually guarantee the stability of the product in its ubiquinol form.

In the case for ubiquinol, you really do get what you pay for. While many brands claim their products are stable simply because everyone uses the same raw material, the quality and efficacy of finished products can vary dramatically, so be careful when selecting a product for your own use.

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Lee Know, ND is the recipient of several awards, and has held positions as a Medical Advisor, Scientific Evaluator, and Director of R&D for major organizations.

The content and opinions expressed in this article are the professional and/or personal view or opinion of the author only.  Opinions expressed should not be construed as medical advice, and the article’s content is not a substitute for direct, personal, professional medical care and diagnosis. Individuals should always consult with their health care provider before beginning or changing any treatment program.