CoQ10 and Lipitor

One of the more important nutrients in the body's mechanics, Coenzyme Q10, or just CoQ10, is used to process energy, especially in the larger and more active organs. However, cholesterol-lowering drugs such as Lipitor have a well established side-effect: they cause a deficiency in this vital chemical, which can potentially lead to some of the very diseases Lipitor is designed to stave off. In this article, I'll talk about this serious condition and what you can do to stop it.

It is an established fact that the cholesterol lowering drugs, called statins, block CoQ10 production in the body. There is no controversy over this. Lipitor and other statins have been shown to be the cause of a 40% reduction in the levels of CoQ10 in users. Now, why is this bad?

CoQ10 is not only an energy processor, but also an important antioxidant. Antioxidants reduce the amount of free radicals in the body, which are "maverick" oxygen molecules that can cause damage to cells if left unchecked. The damage can take the form of mutations, which would lead to such problems as cancer. In addition, free radicals can damage the heart.

In a study published in Georgian Medicine News in 2005, a series of recommendations were made to guard against heart disease. Among them? Suggestion for CoQ10 supplementation. So free radicals can lead to heart disease as well, and CoQ10 may be the answer to a healthy heart. But another study did not specifically recommend supplementation.

While it admitted all the evidence shows the almost complete safety of taking CoQ10, the study, published in 2005 in Cardiology in Review, did not recommend taking a CoQ10 supplement since there are no specific studies proving a benefit, even in those taking statins. Does this mean you should avoid CoQ10 for heart disease?

Not necessarily.

In the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, in 2002, a call for a large study of this situation was recommended. So it is well established that the supplement is safe for consumption, and that Lipitor does in fact cause CoQ10 deficiency, but the scientific evidence is incomplete showing a specific benefit from actually supplementing with CoQ10 in these situations.

Still, while we always recommend consulting with your doctor before beginning treatment, we highly suggest considering adding a CoQ10 supplement to your diet if you are elderly and/or taking any medications for high cholesterol. Coenzyme Q10 is one of the safest supplements you can take, and one of the strongest antioxidants to guard against cancer and heart disease.


J Am Coll Cardiol, 2002; 39:1567-1573

Georgian Med News. 2005 Jan;(118):20-5

Cardiology in Review. 13(2):76-79, March/April 2005