Can CoQ10 Help with Statin-Caused Muscle Pain?
Can supplementing statin medications with CoQ10 reduce statin-caused muscle pain? Taking a CoQ10 supplement might provide some relief. Here is how.
First a Look at Statins
Doctors often prescribe statins for high cholesterol. Research has shown they are effective and that with statins, cholesterol levels do come down and incidents of heart attack and stroke decrease. Statins are so popular with cardiologists and general practitioners that one in four adults between ages 40 and 75 are taking them in the United States.
However, many medications come with side effects and statins are no exception. Statin patients complain more often about muscle pain than any other side effect. Whether described as soreness, fatigue, or weakness in the muscles, one thing is for sure, if you are uncomfortable, daily life tasks are less pleasant. While the jury is still out on why some statin patients feel a wide variety of muscle pain, many theorize that it relates to a breakdown in CoQ10 production in the body. Statins work by inhibiting the natural process of cholesterol production in your body. However, this same process is also responsible for the natural production of CoQ10. Since CoQ10 is a fundamental building block for the production of energy at the cellular level and you use that energy to fuel your muscles, your muscles suffer when this enzyme is depleted.
The great thing about statins is they work, resulting in lower cholesterol, and that’s good news for your heart. Statin medications lower your heart attack and stroke risk as well. Heart attacks and strokes can kill you, while statin side effects probably will not kill you. Because of this benefit-risk scenario, doctors are persistent about staying the statin course. The benefits of statins simply outweigh low-risk side effects like pain.
Understanding the CoQ10 Connection
The not so great thing about statins is they affect your body’s CoQ10 levels while putting the reins on cholesterol production. CoQ10 is a coenzyme your body uses to make energy in your cells. It is a fat-soluble substance resembling a vitamin. Its role in the energy production chain is crucial. Ninety-five percent of your body’s energy requires the vital role that this little molecule plats to get its start.
CoQ10 is naturally produced by your body and your levels can be further replenished by acquiring it through your diet. You can get it from oily fish and other foods like salmon, tuna, beef liver, and whole grains. However, the CoQ10 content you can get from your normal dietary intake is minimal. You can also boost your CoQ10 levels by ingesting it in supplement form.
When CoQ10 levels drop, you may experience fatigue, aches, weakness, and even pain in your muscles. Suddenly gardening, chasing your grandchildren, sleeping, walking your dog, or training for that triathlon you signed up for can feel like an exercise in stoicism. The discomfort can suck the joy right out of daily activities. It is no wonder why pain (or myalgia) is a common complaint by many statin users.
The good news is you do not have to accept pain as a natural part of cholesterol management. Nor do you have to ignore your doctor’s advice to stay on your statin medication.
CoQ10 Supplements May Help Alleviate Your Pain
Statins and CoQ10 share a metabolic pathway. While lowering your cholesterol, statins interfere in the CoQ10 making process. Interference in this vital energy-making chain decreases CoQ10 production. Less CoQ10 may lead to pain and discomfort in muscles. Taking a CoQ10 supplement can help you rebuild these energy-producing coenzymes back to their normal levels.
Remember that CoQ10 occurs naturally in the human body. Its main job is to produce energy in the cells. Research has shown that production of CoQ10 is interrupted by statins making your natural CoQ10 levels drop by as much as 40%.
Fortunately, CoQ10 is available in supplement form. Cardiologists regularly recommend CoQ10 supplementation when they prescribe statins, and with good reason. Research and anecdotal data show that there seems to be a correlation between muscle pain and decreased CoQ10 levels.
When patients who take statins were divided between patients who added Vitamin E to their regimen and patients who added the CoQ10 supplement, CoQ10 won. The CoQ10 patients experienced a significant decrease in muscle pain.
This is good news for your lifestyle. Where is the joy in a beautiful golf swing when you have to fight against soreness, fatigue or pain at every turn on the course?
Almost Half of all Cardiologists in the US Recommend Taking CoQ10
About half of all cardiologists in the United States recommend taking CoQ10 with statins because they understand the connection between statins, lower CoQ10 levels and side effects. Canada goes even further, requiring statin labels to recommend CoQ10 supplementation. These doctors and regulators know that combined with the natural decline in your body’s CoQ10 production (which starts at about age 20), statins wipe out more CoQ10. They know the absence of CoQ10 can mean pain and discomfort. They know that pain can get in the way of what you have to do, and love to do. They know statins save lives. If you can take something that helps eliminates a side effect of statins, their job is easier. From a medical standpoint, supplementing statins with CoQ10 is a no-brainer.
There is no known downside to CoQ10 supplementation for statins patients. When heart patients are treated long-term with CoQ10, symptoms improve. Major adverse cardiac events are improved.
So whether you are marathon training or playing tag with the grandkids, you should not have to worry about aching body parts or fatigue. Supplementing your statin medication with CoQ10 will keep you feeling spry.
Shop for Qunol CoQ10 supplements or contact us with any questions about if CoQ10 can help statin-caused muscle pain.
Caso, G., Kelly, P., McNurlan, M., & Lawson, W. (2007). Effect of Coenzyme Q10 on Myopathic Symptoms in Patients Treated With Statins, The American Journal of Cardiology, 99 (10), 1409-1412.
Mortensen, S.A.,Rosendfeldt, F., Kumar, A., Dolliner, P., Fillipiak, J.K., Pella, D., Alehagen, U., Steurer, G., Littarru, G.P. (2014) The Effect of Coenzyme Q10 on Morbidity and Mortality on Chronic Heart Failure, Journals American College of Cardiology, 2(6):641-649. doi:10.1016/j.jchf.2014.06.008
Pollack, A., The New York Times, Studies Back Guidelines for Wider Use of Statins, July 15, 2015, A3
Wikipedia: Coenzyme Q10
- Blog Contributor