Herbs / Vitamins / Drugs / Supplements

CoQ10 Drug Depletion

I have recently returned from the national symposium hosted by the Council on Family Practice, in Orlando, Florida. Some of the sessions were political, but several of the presentations were excellent.

In particular, I want to share with you some of the information from a presentation entitled, “Drug-Induced Nutrient Depletions.” I found the information shocking, and I thought I was well-informed in this area.

The presentation was very detailed and dealt with a variety of classifications of the most commonly prescribed drugs and what nutrients they deplete. Dr. Pelton pointed out that in his research he found over 600 articles documenting how popular prescription drugs deplete necessary vitamins and minerals.

However, for the moment, I’d like to concentrate on just one critical nutrient: CoQ10. As you may be aware, enzyme CoQ10 is an essential element of the mitochondrial electron-chain reaction, whereby we utilize oxygen to “burn” our food, producing energy without destroying our cells. CoQ10 is absolutely essential to protect the mitochondria from irreversible damage by the oxygen. Yet, many of the most common drugs prescribed today cause massive depletion of CoQ10, and there is no good food source which contains it. We either have to make our own or take it! And, making CoQ10 is a complex process involving 17 different steps and requiring multiple vitamins and minerals as co-factors.

The following is a partial list of the prescription drugs that deplete CoQ10:

Blood Pressure Medications Hydralazine
Hydra-Zide, Diuril
Hygroton, Lopressor
Tenormin, Catpres

Cholesterol Lowering Drugs Statins

Anti-diabetic Drugs Sulfonylureas
Orinase, Micronase
Glucatrol, Diabinese

Psychotherapeutic Drugs Phenothiazines
Tricyclic antidepressants
Thorazine, Mellaril
Elavil, Limbitrol
Sinequan, Triavil
Haldol, Halperon

Of these, the cholesterol lowering drugs known as “statins” probably deplete CoQ10 most seriously. The drugs inhibit cholesterol synthesis in the liver. In that process, they also inhibit part of the enzyme pathway for CoQ10 synthesis.

You may be thinking, “Well, that’s interesting. So what? How does it affect me?” I’m sure you’ll see the relevance when you come to understand that the clinical picture of CoQ10 deficiency is heart failure: fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain, retaining water, especially in the lower extremities, and, in extreme cases, water on the lungs and cardiac asthma.

The drugs are creating congestive heart failure (CHF)! In the 1950’s and 1960’s, there were several thousand cases of CHF diagnosed per year, and almost all of them were post-heart attack. Now, there are hundreds of thousands of cases diagnosed annually; and most of these people have never had a heart attack. And, you might notice that in the case of blood pressure medications, cholesterol lowering drugs and anti-diabetic drugs, heart disease is the very thing the treatments are designed to prevent and or at least that’s the way they’re marketed. Whatever happened to “First, do no harm”?

There’s an interesting historical note to all of this. In the 1950’s the therapeutic effects of CoQ10 were discovered by a research scientist working for Merck. He told them that CoQ10 was the best cardiovascular drug he had ever seen; however, they weren’t interested in developing it and sold the patent to the Japanese. For the last 30 years, CoQ10 has been the number one cardiac drug in Japan. Meanwhile, here in America, we’re still using physiologic poisons to treat heart disease.

If you’re interested in reading more about the topic of how drugs deplete vitamins and minerals, Dr. Pelton has published a book “The Nutritional Cost of Prescription Drugs.” It’s $14.95 and can be ordered through Vroman’s bookstore in Pasadena. We will soon have a copy in our office lending library.

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