Coenzyme Q10 has long been known for its antiaging properties, especially in the cases of energy production and cardiovascular health. Now, it seems as though we have another use for this not-quite-a-vitamin – the prevention and mitigation of diabetes.

One little-publicized cause of diabetes may be the use of statins, marketed as “prevention” for cardiovascular events. Some statins, such as rosuvastatin, are linked with a 27% higher risk of type II diabetes! Two meta-analyses also found an elevated risk of diabetes, one with a 9% higher risk, and the other showing a 12% higher risk. This disproportionately affects the elderly, who are most likely to be prescribed statins.

So Why May Statins Raise the Risk of Diabetes?

Statins work by blocking an enzyme called HMG-CoA reductase, but this also blocks a precursor to coenzyme-Q10. Depletion of CoQ10 disrupts mitochondrial function. Along with negatively affecting energy levels, this also has a negative impact on insulin signalling, which could lead to the blood glucose dysregulation known as diabetes. To make things even worse, lowering LDL cholesterol also reduces CoQ10 transport into cells. [1]

These effects combined can deplete CoQ10 by as much as 54%.

This is why medical professionals now often recommend CoQ10 supplements to anyone taking statins. In fat cells exposed to statin drugs, the coenzyme can restore the normal glucose uptake mechanism that the drugs also disrupt.

Additionally, CoQ10 has been found to reduce blood sugar and HbA1C levels in diabetic patients. Blood sugar tests only take a picture of how your glucose regulation is doing now; haemoglobin A1C gives an idea of your blood glucose regulation over the past 4 months, as it shows how much sugar has been tangled in the haemoglobin proteins.

The root cause of many diabetes complications is loss of endothelial function (the lining of the blood vessels), which leads to poor blood flow and tissue destruction in parts of the body such as the eyes, kidneys, and toes. Worse still, this can even affect the heart, causing something known as diabetic cardiomyopathy (heart muscle damage).

Fortunately, supplementation with 200mg of CoQ10 has been found to significantly improve loss of endothelial function in diabetes, which may spare many from crippling complications.

Are Statins Even a Necessity?

But do we even need these CoQ10-depleting statins? Research has actually shown that statins may be more harmful than beneficial for the heart, even if there were no alternatives. Statins have been found to increase the risk of microalbuminuria, which is a known marker of blood vessel dysfunction.

Other studies have found that some statins could worsen heart function, increase LDL oxidation (which is the cause of plaque!), cause heart failure and/or atrial fibrillation (a fluttering movement that does not pump blood!), reduce blood flow to the heart, and weaken the heart muscle. [2]

The CoQ10 depletion may also be behind the increase in congestive heart failure in the USA. It is very fortunate that even “mere” diet advice can also protect against cardiovascular deaths, such as eating an apple every day – which may reduce LDL cholesterol by an impressive 40%!

Overall, CoQ10 deficiency can be debilitating and even dangerous, but you don’t have to suffer.


[1] LifeExtension

[2] GreenMedInfo

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