Why Statins May Require You Take Extra CoQ10 and Vitamin E

Statins are drugs used to lower cholesterol by blocking cholesterol synthesis in the liver (1). By lowering total and LDL cholesterol, in effect, they help lower risk of heart disease and death (1). The most commonly known statin drugs are simvastatin (Zocor), lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol), and rosuvastatin (Crestor).

Currently, it is theorized that as statins block cholesterol synthesis, they also block synthesis of coenzyme Q10 (2). This is unfortunate because coenzyme Q10 plays a key role in the mitochondria in the electron transport chain, as an antioxidant and as a regenerator of vitamin E (3).

Statin therapy, then, could potentially lead to deficiencies of both coenzyme Q10 and, possibly, increase the need for vitamin E in cells (4). It has been theorized that deficiencies in both coenzyme Q10 and vitamin E are why statins cause statin-related muscle pain and statin-related myopathy (3-4).

References

1. LaRosa JC, He J, Vupputuri S. Effect of statins on risk of coronary disease: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. JAMA. 1999 Dec 22-29;282(24):2340-6. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10612322
2. Schaars CF, Stalenhoef AF. Effects of ubiquinone (coenzyme Q10) on myopathy in statin users. Curr Opin Lipidol. 2008 Dec;19(6):553-7.
3. Gropper SS, Smith JL, Groff JL. Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth, 2009.
4. Galli F, Iuliano L. Do statins cause myopathy by lowering vitamin E levels? Med Hypotheses. 2010 Apr;74(4):707-709. Epub 2009 Nov 6.

Published by David Despain, MS, CFS

David is a science and health writer living on Long Island, New York. He's written for a variety of publications including Scientific American, Outside Online, the American Society for Nutrition's (ASN) Nutrition Notes Daily, and Institute of Food Technologists' (IFT) Food Technology magazine and Live! blog. He's also covered new findings reported at scientific meetings including Experimental Biology, AAAS, AOCS, CASW, Sigma Xi, IFT, and others on his personal blog "Evolving Health." David is also an active member of organizations including the National Association of Science Writers (NASW), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Society for Nutrition, the Institute of Food Technologists, and the National Audubon Society. David has a master's degree in human nutrition from the University of Bridgeport, and a bachelor's degree in English from University of Illinois at Springfield. He also earned his Certified Food Scientist credential from the Institute of Food Technologists.

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