What Is Coenzyme Q 10? Why Was It Used In The Small Alzheimer’s Study? What is Oxidative Stress? Statins and Coenzyme Q 10.

“Hi Terri… I love hearing about diet and lifestyle changes reversing disease. Lately I read about coconut oil and its usefulness in Alzheimers – Alzheimer’s Disease: What If There Was a Cure?   Terri, can you tell me why the methylcobalamin and CoQ10 were used?  What were their specific roles?”

Please refer to last post for the article this question refers to.

wpid-IMAG1043.jpgIn medical school, the basic science classes are usually contained to the first two years of study, classes like physiology, biochemistry, and histology. The last two years of school we don short white coats and run around wards and clinics learning how to take care of patients.  We put basic science behind us as we forge forward, identifying diseases in actual patients and learning what our staff doctors do about it.  When we transition to “real doctor-hood,” we all like to roll our eyes and refer to the basic science stuff as “minutiae.”  It is in this “minutiae” that I am learning how food is the best medicine but can be the worst disease.

Co Q 10 ( also Coenzyme Q 10 or ubiquinone) helps make our energy and is highest in our mitochondria:

Where specifically do you find Co Q 10 in the body? It’s everywhere!  Ubiquitous.  But it’s super high in our mitochondria because one of its main functions is helping to generate energy (ATP) via the electron transport chain.  (Egads.  I thought my test on ATP production was over 12 years ago.  This blog is a hobby?)  Mitochondria are the “power-houses” of cells and make our energy, which comes from ATP.  Co Q 10 is therefore highest in organs that are “highly active,” such as the heart and liver, but it is present in every cell since every cell needs energy.  Mitochondria need Co Q 10 to make energy, and you need mitochondria and Co Q 10.

Co Q 10 is also an extremely important, well-placed anti-oxidant our body can make:

Co Q 10 has the ability to easily transfer electrons back and forth in different situations, and so it can block free radical formation. Free-ruh-form-WHAT?  Free radicals.  Free radicals can also just be simply called “radicals.”  Free radicals are unstable molecules and will “steal” electrons from the proteins and fats that make up our cells in order to stabilize themselves.  Good for them.  Bad for the cell (us).  Even in a perfect world, free radicals are actually made in our bodies as a by-product of all the reactions going on, especially in our mitochondria, who are busy, busy making us energy to live.  (Living is good.)  You cannot escape free radical formation.  It’s a fact of life, although our food choices can definitely drastically increase the load of free radicals in our body.  (Eat right.  Eat right.)  Co Q 10 has the ability to give or take electrons to help these free radicals calm down.  I find it amazing that co Q 10 functions in both the production of ATP and the protection from by-products of ATP production; it is a pretty darn cool design.  (Never lose your awe of life.)

An aside on why getting off of statins if a person can is ultra-important:

Co Q 10 can be (and is) made by the body. (Three things I want you to know about this.  One, it takes a lot of other nutrients to make it, so you must eat right.  Two, you can also eat it to get it.  Three, production slows down drastically as we age.)  Because the body doesn’t like to waste effort, it builds cholesterol and Co Q 10 along the same assembly line.  (Cholesterol is not bad.  It is absolutely, positively necessary to live.)  For those who have had biochemistry and pharmacology, statins are made to block cholesterol formation by blocking HMG-CoA Reductase, a necessary enzyme to take acetoacetyl co-A to mevalonate, which then goes on to become either Co Q 10 or cholesterol.

So in our efforts to block cholesterol formation, we are blocking one of the cofactors necessary for energy production and intense anti-oxidant protection! (Through my study of food, I very clearly see that everything in the body is a path that leads right back to the beginning. We must be careful when mucking with the system.  It is best to try to RESTORE the system, the point we conventional doctors and modern patients don’t really want to accept.  We CANNOT beat the design.)  Some patients can actually “feel” this lack of Co Q 10, and they get muscle aches and have to stop the medicines so freely handed out.  To combat this loss of Co Q 10 levels, many physicians advocate for Co Q 10 supplementation for statin patients, particularly as they age.  None of my friends and family members who are on statins has been told to take Co Q 10.  Regardless, their Co Q 10 production is being blocked, and they could probably benefit from Co Q 10—and a strict diet of real food low in grains, sugar, and detrimental vegetable/grain oils.

How does this relate to Alzheimer’s?

It is now suspected that Alzheimer’s disease is due, in part, to damage to the brain’s proteins, fats, and DNA by free radicals. The mitochondria are hit particularly hard, and because they are damaged, they create even more of these free radicals, thus damaging themselves further.  If you know much about Alzheimer’s disease, you may have heard of the amyloid plaques and tau tangles in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients.  It is felt these changes occur after the mitochondria are damaged.

Mitochondria work extensively with oxygen to make our energy. You will see the words “oxidative stress” associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other diseases.  Let’s manipulate the phrase oxidative stress to “oxygen stress.”  What?  I thought oxygen was good!  Well, it is, but when processed it makes some nasty reactive byproducts.  When the mitochondria use oxygen to make our energy (ATP) the oxygen is made into a reactive oxygen species (ROS) (a kind of free radical).  The ROS free radical goes to scavenge electrons from fully-functioning proteins, fats, and DNA which are sitting there minding their own business and quite content with their electrons just the way they are.  When there is increasing ROS without a counter-balance, it damages structure and function of cells.  In the brain, that’s neurons.

Enter Co Q 10 to act as an anti-oxidant. Not just any anti-oxidant, but an anti-oxidant which shoots like a bullet to a target—right to the mitochondria.  Co Q 10 is more specific to mitochondria than, say, vitamin C, a perfectly good anti-oxidant, is.  Struggling mitochondria play a large role in the development of Alzheimer’s, so using Co Q 10 is a way to boost mitochondrial function and halt damage.  Animal studies support that Co Q 10 reduces oxidative stress, reduces amyloid plaques, and improves behavior in mice with induced Alzheimer’s disease.


My hobby site here is not intended as medical advice or treatment advice. You should consult with your healthcare practitioner regarding your health.  This site is only my story of what I am learning in my journey through food.  I am learning that deep nutrition counts.  Taking out foods which lead to inflammation and oxidative stress in the body (sugars, ill-prepared and excessive grains, and vegetable/processed oils) and putting in nutrient-dense foods (vegetables, greens, seafood, organ meats, and fruits).  If you’re wondering where you can get your Co Q 10, you won’t like the answer.  I don’t always like the foods I eat, but “Let food be they medicine…”  Anyhow.  The answer to that question is beef heart.  (And less but still fair quantities in liver, kidney, and muscle meats.)  However, a healthy, young, well fed body can make its own Co Q 10.  As we age or as we acquire deficits, that may not be enough and supplementation via strong food sources or vitamins may be indicated.  Read up.  Talk with your doc.

Methylcobalamin next.  Thank you for the question.



Antioxidant Therapies for Alzheimer’s Disease. Ye Feng and Xiaochuan WangOxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity.  April 2012.

Coenzyme Q10 Decreases Amyloid Pathology and Improves Behavior in a Transgenic Mouse Model of Alzheimer’s Disease. Magali Dumont, Khatuna Kipiani, […], and M. Flint Beal. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. 2011.  27(1): 211-223

26 thoughts on “What Is Coenzyme Q 10? Why Was It Used In The Small Alzheimer’s Study? What is Oxidative Stress? Statins and Coenzyme Q 10.

  1. lakenormanprep

    Hmm…beef heart is a tough one for the vegetarian. I eat as anti-inflammatory as possible due to a strong family history of Alzheimer’s. This is terrific info. Let’s hope my diet is good enough for my body to make its own!

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Hello! Yes, strong sources of Co Q 10 are not available for vegetarians, even those consuming eggs and dairy. If fish or chicken is able to be added in, that definitely helps dietary sources. But plant based choices higher than other plant sources seem to include spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, peanuts, pistachios, sesame seeds–I’ll bet most of those are in your diet now. Canola and soybean oils aren’t bad sources of Co Q 10, but I’m thinking the risk there outweighs the benefits. Now, sesame oil has a higher content too, and I do use that on occasion. Alzheimer’s is frightening. I’m glad to see they made a little success stride in treating it. ~~Terri

  2. Boundless

    re: To combat this loss of Co Q 10 levels, many physicians advocate for Co Q 10 supplementation for statin patients, particularly as they age.

    I dispute the “many”.

    re: None of my friends and family members who are on statins has been told to take Co Q 10.

    So does your anecdotal data.

    How to spot a quack:
    1. Casually prescribes statins even though you aren’t a middle-aged male who has had an MI.
    2. Does not provide data on all-cause statin/no-statin mortality for cohorts matching your case.
    3. Does not enumerate the side effects of statins; some severe, some irreversible.
    4. Does not list steps to take to counter the side effects, such as CoQ10 supplements.
    5. Shows no awareness of the role of diet, or even advocates the consensus diet that probably caused the condition under treatment.
    This describes entirely too many MDs.

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Ouch, Boundless. Straight to my heart. Robot, sure. Monkey, okay. Quack, ouchy, ouchy, ouchy. You know we medical doctors hate to be thought of as quacks. (I probably did about three of the five when I practiced, and on the diet one, I prescribed inadequately and really just shoved them off to a nutritionist because an office visit of 7 minutes was not enough time to address it.)

      But, yeah. We drop the ball. And thanks for pointing out my wishy-washy word choices. You caught me!


      1. Boundless

        > Monkey, okay. Quack, ouchy, ouchy

        Present company excepted, of course 🙂

        I’m probably a bit touchy because it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the MD heading up the CDC is not just a political toady, but a walking talking quack whose knowledge of the risks of even historical ebola is criminally negligent. The current strain, evidently different from priors (consider the number of medical personnel infected and killed in Africa for this outbreak) now threatens to become an entirely needless North American catastrophe as well.

        Nigeria was smart enough to shut down air travel from the hot zone when ebola first booked a flight there. As far as I know Frieden’s position is still “let ’em all in”.

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Great! Great! Great! The material brings about much discussion in our house too. Wish I could get my husband to occasionally drop a post like yours does, but I know that will never happen. Oh, well. At least he eats my food.


  3. Anonymous

    Funny this post should appear for me right now. My acupuncturist has me on a CoQ10 supplement to help with cell division!

  4. kasenyabogg

    Hi Terri, thanks so much for answering my question about CoQ10! I’m so chuffed you took the time to put that information together, especially given your STAHM workload. I’ve often wondered what all the fuss about CoQ10 was but now I know. I just need to pull that beef heart out of my freezer and create something with it!

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      No problem. Keeps the other side of my brain working (so as to help avoid dementia in my later years). Plus, it helps me practice putting off laundry.

      Hope it shed some light. I’ve tried heart several ways and actually was hoping one way would turn out wonderful so I could do a post on it. But, alas, for me it always turns out tough. The taste is fine. In a soup, my kids will just look at me and ask, “What’s the meat?” “Beef,” I say. “Beef.” It is definitely a meat that could be mixed into ground beef recipes with NO taste alteration (unlike liver). Pull that out of your freezer! Don’t let it waste to freezer burn! 🙂


  5. IrishMum

    Fantastic information, as usual. We really don’t like heart, but I get my fine butcher to mix it in with the mince, so the kids are eating heart burgers. Easy!

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Aw, Rachel. Ha! How do you make all those cool audiovisual things? I’m amazed by all of those. I wish I could do that. It seems like they’d take you hours to do. And do you have to worry about copyrights and such? You know you can always ask away here! ~Terri

      1. rachelmeeks

        With copyrights I am a very irresponsible blogger haha. I will gladly take down anything anyone asks me to, but I think most people assume I didn’t animate every Disney movie ever or I don’t own the rights to these famous scenes. 😉

        I’m about to pen a quick update on my lab results – will come up with the proper wording for my question soon. But if you read my post and go I don’t know aaaanything about that stuff then that’s fine too. 🙂 Not sure what your expertise is.

      2. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        Well, the videos are great and I don’t know how you manipulate them the way you do. On medical stuff, I love to tackle a condition and how food/lifestyle may affect it, on a condition basis rather than a personal basis, because we are all so different. Like you and certain copyrights is me and crossing into medical advice. But I was so floored by how nutriton changed our health in our family and how nutrition is neglected and actually presented falsely by/to health care providers that I couldn’t keep quiet. 🙂

      3. rachelmeeks

        Well cool! Then I have a couple if questions: 1, what are some foods that can help reduce insulin resistance? And 2, what is up with male hormones in females, and how can we help keep them balanced?

      4. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        Those are great questions. Actually ones I have thought about too. One question I can address here in the shorter term (always relative–mom’s time, you know). The other question (the hormone one) I have read about and is a huge topic. It interests me a lot and is actually on my personal list to cover, but it is a big one. So it will take me time–like a year or two. I have made changes in my life to try to counter this, like eliminating plastics, cutting down on excessive carbs, trying to destress–those things lead to hormonal disruptions. So when I get it together and unravelled in my mind I will write it up. I know it is a trouble area because I had my check up, the labs, the ultrasound–and got the well, nothing to do answer. Which I know is conventionally true. So will be mulling on these!

  6. Pingback: (Protect The Brain.) What Was The Role Of Methylcobalamin In The Alzheimer’s Study? | The HSD

  7. Pingback: Clinicalnews.org

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