CoQ10, St. John’s Wort and Vitamin E
I. Coenzyme Q10
You’ve undoubtedly heard about Coenzyme Q10 or saw a bottle in the supplement aisle at your local pharmacy. But what is it and what does it do?
Coenzyme Q10, also known as ubiquinone or CoQ10, is a compound that has a critical role in energy production within the cells of the body. It is synthesized in most tissues in humans, with high concentrations in the heart.
In addition to your body naturally producing CoQ10, rich dietary sources include meat, fish, poultry, soybean and canola oils, nuts and whole grains.
CoQ10 is a non-prescription dietary supplement in the United States with potential benefits in a variety of conditions. Supplement doses range from 30 to 100 milligrams per day, which are much greater than estimated dietary sources.
Although oral supplementation of CoQ10 does increase blood and tissue concentrations, less than 5% of orally administered CoQ10 is thought to reach circulation. Therefore, pharmacological doses as high as 3,000 milligrams per day are taken.
It is not considered an essential vitamin or mineral, as deficiency does not result in a disease state. However, some data suggest that levels of CoQ10 may reduce the severity of several diseases including certain heart conditions, migraines and Parkinson’s disease.
For example, the harmful effects of oxidative stress are increased in patients with heart failure, and the antioxidant activity of CoQ10 may help to reduce these effects that could damage components of cardiac cells and may also help reduce blood pressure.
Safety and side effects
CoQ10 is generally considered safe with no significant side effects. Some individuals experience gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, loss of appetite, heartburn and abdominal discomfort, especially with daily doses of 200 mg. or more. Side effects may be minimized if daily doses greater than 100 mg. are divided into two or three doses.
Individuals taking anticoagulants such as warfarin (Coumadin) should use caution taking CoQ10 due to an increased risk of blood clotting.
CoQ10 may also interact with statins, insulin and certain cancer treatments. As with any new diet or supplement regiment, consult with your physician before taking CoQ10.
II. St. John’s Wort
St. John’s Wort (SJW) is a widely known, non-prescription dietary supplement with use dating back to ancient Greece.
SJW is the common name for a flowering shrub native to Europe, Hypercium perforatum, also known as Klamath weed or goat weed. The name originates from when its yellow flowers bloom in late June, around St. John the Baptist’s Feast Day. “Wort” is an Old English word for a plant or herb used as food or medicinally.
The flowers and leaves of SJW contain the bioactive ingredients hyperforin and hypericin that may affect neurotransmitters in the body. Extracts are available in the United States as tablets, liquids, teas and topical preparations.
More research is needed
Although not fully supported by scientific research, folk and traditional medicine utilizes SJW for conditions including insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, wound healing and menopausal symptoms.
It is most commonly studied for mild to moderate depression as an alternative to antidepressants. A 2008 Cochrane review of 29 clinical trials concluded that SJW was superior to placebo in patients with major depression and was as effective as standard antidepressants with fewer side-
Despite this, high-quality clinical data supporting the effectiveness as a monotherapy for depression is lacking. It is not yet considered a replacement for more studied treatments and proper medical consultation.
Safety and side effects
SJW is generally considered safe when used orally, with no significant side effects. While usually minor and uncommon, some reported side effects include upset stomach, agitation, headache, fatigue, dizziness, sensitivity to sunlight, and dry mouth. SJW is a stimulant and may worsen feelings of anxiety in some individuals.
Some serious interactions
SJW interacts with many prescription medications through induction of the cytochrome P450 enzymes, resulting in altered drug effectiveness and potentially severe side effects when taken with oral contraceptives, certain chemotherapy drugs, statins, anticoagulants or antidepressants.
Interactions with SJW and certain antidepressants may lead to an accumulation of high levels of serotonin, a brain chemical targeted by antidepressants. SJW may also limit absorption of iron and other minerals. As with any new diet or supplement regimen, consult with your physician to discuss if SJW is appropriate for you.
III. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is an antioxidant essential for the body’s nervous, cardiovascular, reproductive, musculoskeletal and other systems to work properly. It may help prevent diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cognitive decline.
It’s estimated nearly 90% of American adults don’t get enough vitamin E to meet recommended daily requirements.
To get more vitamin E, try these foods:
—Nuts, especially almonds and hazelnuts
—Vegetable oils (like sunflower, safflower, soybean and wheat germ)
—Seeds, like sunflower seeds
—Leafy vegetables (spinach or chard)
Vitamin E is fat-soluble, so you’ll need to ingest it with some form of fat; otherwise, it won’t be absorbed or used efficiently. For example, add nuts to a homemade salad dressing made with oil to increase the absorption of vitamin E.
If you prefer a supplement, talk with your doctor first and then look for a multivitamin or a single supplement that provides 12 to 15 mg. of vitamin E.
Vitamin E also works alongside vitamin C, so sufficient levels of vitamin C are important too for optimizing vitamin E activity in the body.
High levels of vitamin E circulating in the blood are not necessarily an indicator that your body has enough vitamin E, or that it is used appropriately.
Do you need more than others? Common health issues may make it harder for your body to use vitamin E effectively and may increase your need for more of this vitamin. These include:
—High cholesterol or triglycerides
If you have one of these conditions, consult with your doctor to determine how to boost your vitamin E to the appropriate level.
Take action now:
—Eat plenty of dietary sources of vitamin E, along with healthy fat
—Consider a supplement
—Eat vitamin C-rich foods or take a vitamin C supplement
—Work with your physician if you have a medical condition that is reducing your vitamin E levels.
Reprinted with permission from Environmental Nutrition, a monthly publication of Belvoir Media Group, LLC, EnvironmentalNutrition.com.
© 2019 Belvoir Media Group. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.