Q10’s protective effect against neurological diseases
Neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, depression, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, migraine, and fibromyalgia are rather common. These conditions are a result of imbalances in the nervous system, and they are often insidious. In a new review article that is published in Frontiers in Neuroscience, researchers have studied Q10’s role in the different neurological disorders. The reason for this is that Q10 is important for cellular energy turnover and serves as an antioxidant that protects the circulatory system and the nerve cells against oxidative damage. As we grow older, our endogenous Q10 synthesis decreases, and certain diseases and medical drugs also impair the body’s Q10 synthesis.
It is believed that around one billion people worldwide suffer from neurological diseases, and the problem is growing at an alarming rate, especially because the number of seniors is increasing. In addition, an unhealthy lifestyle, genetic factors, infections, poisoning, and physical injury can increase the risk. Neurological diseases are caused by imbalances in the nervous system where biological, structural, or electric anomalies may occur. Neurological disorders can be related to the following physical symptoms:
- Impaired cognitive functioning
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of control of the entire body or parts of if
- Sensory disturbances
Imbalances in the cellular energy metabolism, chronic inflammation, and oxidative stress seem to be the common thread of most neurological disorders. Oxidative stress is when the protective antioxidants are outnumbered by free radicals that can attack cells and tissues. Our brain contains a lot of cholesterol and polyunsaturated fatty acids and is therefore particularly vulnerable to free radical attacks. Also, our energy metabolism is a comparatively extensive process that generates a lot of free radicals. The free radical burden and risk of oxidative stress are also increased by ageing, different types of medicine, poisoning, smoking, and stress.
In their review article, the authors look at Q10 and how it affects cellular energy metabolism that takes place inside the mitochondria. Q10 is also a unique antioxidant that protects cells and their mitochondria against oxidative stress. However, our endogenous Q10 synthesis decreases with age, and it is also negatively affected by cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins).
The researchers look at Q10’s role in connection with the following neurological disorders.
Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
Alzheimer’s disease is the main cause of dementia. As part of the disease progression, different proteins accumulate in the brain. They are known as beta-amyloid plaques. Oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction are also known to cause beta-amyloid plaques to accumulate. Oxidative stress also activates glial cells (neuroglia) and apoptosis (programmed self-destruction of cells), resulting in the loss of memory and other skills. Studies have shown that supplementation with Q10 alone or in combination with other antioxidants can counteract oxidative stress, chronic inflammation, and cell death, which is important for memory and learning.
Depression and bipolar disorder
Depression is characterized by a lack of the neurotransmitter serotonin, and low serotonin levels can be a result of a disrupted metabolism of tryptophane, which is a precursor. Depression is also associated with mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress, and chronic inflammation in the brain. Bipolar depression is typically linked to ageing. Periods of depression often dominate manic periods. It has been seen that levels of Q10 in the blood of patients with bipolar disorder are lower than in healthy individuals. The scientists mention several studies where daily supplements of Q10 (200-500 mg) have been tested on patients with bipolar disorder. This seems to mitigate the depressive symptoms, most likely because Q10 has a key role in cellular energy turnover and also serves as an antioxidant and lowers levels of various inflammation markers such as IL-1β, IL-2, IL-6, and TNF-α.
Parkinson’s disease is caused by a lack of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that the brain uses to control our movements. Symptoms are typically uncontrollable shaking and stiff muscles, slow movements, poor balance, tiredness, and loss of facial expression. As Parkinson’s disease progresses, there is increasing mitochondrial damage, oxidative stress, microglia activation, inflammation, and accumulation of harmful proteins. It is crucial to diagnose and treat the disease in time. It has been observed that blood levels of Q10 in patients with Parkinson’s disease are low. Studies show that relatively high-dosed supplementation with Q10 (300 – 1,200 mg daily) can slow down the progression of the disease This is because Q10 counteracts oxidative stress, microglia activation, neuroinflammation, mitochondrial destruction, and protein accumulation.
Acute ischemic stroke, the most common form of stroke, occurs as a result of a local thrombosis or atherosclerosis that blocks the blood flow in the surrounding tissue. Stroke is the third most common cause of death and there is a need for better strategies for prevention and treatment.
Stroke is related to oxidative stress and chronic inflammation that sets the stage for atherosclerosis. Stroke is also linked to excitotoxic mechanisms (where too much of the neurotransmitter glutamate is released) and apoptosis and necrosis (tissue death). Q10 may protect against ischemic stroke by inhibiting the above listed mechanisms. In a placebo-controlled study where acute stroke patients were given 300 mg of Q10 daily, those who received the Q10 supplements scored significantly better in the Mini-Mental-State Examination (MMSE) cognitive test and in the stroke test, NIHSS (National Institute of Health Stroke Scale)
Q10 and other neurological disorders
The article also mentions that Q10 deficiency may be involved in the development of epilectic seizures, sclerosis, and more rare diseases such as LHON (Leber Hereditary Optic Neuropathy), ARCA2 (Autosomal Recessive Cerebellar Ataxia 2) and SCAR9 (Spinocerebellar Ataxia Autosomal Recessive 9). In these cases, Q10 supplementation has not proven to be all that effective and more research is needed.
- The body has difficulty with absorbing Q10. It is therefore important to choose a product with documented bioavailability
- Many neurological disorders require the use of substantially larger Q10 doses
- Humans can only absorb around 100 mg of Q10 at a time. When supplementing with large doses, it may therefore be a good idea to take several smaller doses over the course of the day.
Q10 and migraine
Migraines can often be caused by mitochondrial dysfunction and lack of Q10. Supplementation with Q 10 (150-300 mg per day) may help reduce migraine symptoms, according to several studies (click on link)
Q10 and fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia can be a result of mitochondrial dysfunction and lack of Q10. You can read more about a Spanish study where a group of fibromyalgia patients were given 300 mg of Q10 per day and had less pain and fatigue as a result of the treatment. Read more here (click on link)
Shokufeh Bagheri et al. Neuroprotective effects of coenzyme Q10 on neurological diseases: a review article. Frontiers in Neuroscience. 2023
Stephanie Carter. CoQ10 Targets the Cause of Migraine Headaches. Life Extension Magazine 2019
Cordero MD, el al. Can CoenzymeQ10 Improve Clinical and Molecular Parameter in Fibromyalgia? Antioxid & Redox Signal 2013. E-pub ahead of print.
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