February is American Heart Health month. It’s a month filled with healthy lifestyle advice. Stay active, maintain a healthy weight, quit smoking. These are just some of the heart-healthy habits championed by holistic and allopathic practitioners alike throughout the month. But the role of supplements is where the 2 groups often diverge, potentially adding considerable confusion for some consumers. We hope to clear up some of that confusion this month with reviews of vital heart-healthy nutrients, functional tests, and Alkaline Way lifestyle choices for adding years to life and life to years.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
One of the most heart friendly nutrients is Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). CoQ10 is present in the mitochondria of every cell. The mitochondria are the “power station” of the cell and make more energy – in the form of ATP – than any other energy-producing system in the body. Without CoQ10, however, ATP production is greatly diminished. Without ATP there is no cellular energy. Without cellular energy there is cell death. CoQ10 has therefore rightly been referred to as essential for the maintenance of quality life.
CoQ10 is known to be highly concentrated in heart muscle cells due to the high energy requirements of these cells. Research studies have linked CoQ10 with significant benefits for people with heart disease – from reducing risk for repeat heart attacks and improving outcomes in patients with heart failure to lowering blood pressure and helping combat side effects of cholesterol-lowering statins.
Congestive heart failure has been strongly correlated with significantly low blood and tissue levels of CoQ10. Severity of heart failure correlates directly with the severity of CoQ10 deficiency; thus, replenishing CoQ10 can significantly slow progression of the condition.
CoQ10 is responsible for:
- Increasing energy production in the heart
- Increasing the heart’s ability to contract
- Lowering blood pressure
Though the body does produce CoQ10, production is known to decrease with age and when certain nutrients, such as “good fats”, are omitted from the diet. Following an Alkaline Way diet can ensure that these good fats are replenished daily. Increasing nut and seed intake; using oils like green, cloudy extra virgin olive oil, organic coconut and ghee (clarified butter); as well eating whole fish from deep cold water or wild, line-caught fish like salmon, are recommended
Medications such as statins also reduce CoQ10 production. Statins are a class of medicines that are frequently used to lower blood cholesterol levels. Unfortunately, these medications also inhibit the body’s ability to make its own CoQ10. This negative consequence of treating elevated cholesterol (which likely is not really even a risk factor) is beginning to be appreciated by even conventional medicine. While we would rather see fewer individuals unnecessarily treated with statins, at least CoQ10 supplementation for those taking statins is starting to be recommended by more physicians.
The better understanding by physicians and patients of the vital role of CoQ10 leads to the next question. With so many CoQ10 formulations on the market, which one should I take – or recommend to my patients? Selecting the right formulation is essential to realizing the maximum benefits of CoQ10.
CoQ10 is lipophilic (fat loving) rather than hydrophilic (water loving). This means it is not soluble in water and therefore hard to bring into the body. While some recommend taking dry CoQ10 with a fat source (e.g. olive oil or peanut butter) to facilitate uptake, that is likely to produce only minimal improvement in absorption – 5%- 10% at best. Some utilize chemical solvents such as propylene and ethylene glycol to deliver CoQ10 into cells. These are not suitable methods of providing the body a proper amount of CoQ10.
Dr. Russell Jaffe, founder and scientist behind the PERQUE professional line of supplements, utilized a more effective method of delivering meaningful amounts of CoQ10 through a process called micellization. This advanced delivery method disperses active CoQ10 into tiny droplets of oil for vastly improved uptake. The choice of oil used makes a difference in uptake as well. Vegetable oils such as soybean oil and peanut oil, as well as hydrogenated fats, retard rather than facilitate the CoQ10 uptake. In contrast, oils with high gamma oryzanol content, such as rice bran oil, can deliver a 3 to 6-fold increase in CoQ10 uptake. PERQUE Mito Guard Plus (100 mg CoQ10) delivers pure CoQ10 in the preferred form, micellized in rice bran oil with gamma oryzanol and mixed tocopherols for increased cellular energy and healthier heart function.
See PERQUE Mito Guard Plus product sheet for additional information. Call 800.525.7372 to order.
Change Your Oil!
Any review of heart-healthy nutrients must include the heart-healthy duo of EPA and DHA. The Omega-3 essential fats, EPA and DHA, support heart health by decreasing triglycerides, lowering blood pressure, reducing blood clotting, and decreasing stroke and heart failure risk.
Omega-3 expert Bill Harris recently reviewed two studies that provide important insights into the cardiovascular benefits of EPA and DHA. The REDUCEIT trial showed a daily dose of 4g of an Rx version of EPA in people with heart disease and taking statin medication, significantly decreased triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, reducing overall cardiovascular risk by 25%. The VITAL study showed that a daily dose of 1g Rx formulation of EPA+DHA resulted in an overall 28% reduction in heart attacks and a whopping 77% reduction in risk for cardiovascular disease in African Americans.
Are you getting enough?
Our body can make most of the fat it needs, but it can’t make omega 3 essential fatty acids (EFAs). We must take in omega-3s through diet and supplementation. Unfortunately, experts estimate that 95% – 99% of the U.S. population does not get enough omega 3 EFAs.
Fish, leafy green vegetables, vegetable oils, nuts, flax seeds and oil have the highest levels of Omega-3 EFAs. The typical American diet, however, includes more omega-6 than the healthier omega 3s. The Omega-3 Index test available through ELISA/ACT Biotechnologies is a high sensitivity measurement of Omega-3 levels. The predictive goal value for Omega-3 is anything greater than 8%. We also recommend measuring Omega-6 levels, with a goal being a 1:1 ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6. Current estimates put the average U.S. diet at 15 to 20 times more omega 6 than Omega 3.
The importance of maintaining a healthy Omega-3 level means supplementation is needed for most people. Deep sea, cold water derived fish provide the best quality fish oil rich in EPA and DHA. As with all supplements, however, quality dictates results. Fish oil supplements that are oxidized by having been exposed to air during production could be more harmful than helpful. It is also important to ensure that no mercury or other toxic chemicals found in fish end up concentrated in your supplements.
PERQUE EPA/DHA Guard is distilled under nitrogen to prevent oxidation and is purified to remove all toxic minerals and chemicals. Learn more at www.perque.com/product/perque-epadha-guard/
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