Q: I’m wondering if you have seen or read any positive link between CoQ10 and gum health. Please advise.
A: Coenzyme Q10 is a natural antioxidant synthesized by the body. As with so many conditions, deficiencies can occur for a number of reasons and in this instance can result from either poor dietary habits or because of excessive use of CoQ10 by the body. Depending on the reason for the deficiency, supplements or dietary modifications may be effective.
This antioxidant is vital for the chain of metabolic chemical reactions that generate energy within the cells of the body. It has been used for countless medical issues, including improving heart health, assists in maintaining the normal oxidative state of LDL cholesterol, supporting the function of the heart muscle and promoting better circulation. It is even taken by some people who believe it helps to reduce the severity and frequency of migraine headaches, for strengthening the immune systems of those with HIV/AIDS, male infertility, and even for increasing a person’s life span. Co-Q10 levels are highest in the first 20 years of life. By age 80, levels can fall to lower than they were at birth. Thus, the thought that supplements taken later in life might actually allow people to live longer. Experimentation in this regard works in bacteria; however, not in lab animals. Thus, more research is necessary to determine if it actually will be effective for people.
Deficiencies in some individuals have been associated with cardiovascular problems including hypertension, arrhythmias, angina, and heart failure, as well as for the regulation of blood sugar levels and stomach ulcers. Individuals treated with statin drugs for hypercholesterolemia may be at an increased risk for deficiency because statins block CoQ10 synthesis in the body; however, there is minimal evidence published of the benefits of CoQ10 for statin-caused myopathy, and some practitioners are willing to recommend it to their patients as an option. Low levels in patients on statins may contribute to fatigue and pain in joints and muscles.
Effectiveness may occur for inherited or acquired disorders that limit energy production in body cells. CoQ10 may be effective for congestive heart failure when taken in combination with other heart medications and treatments, myocardial infarction when begun within 72 hours and taken for one year, Huntington’s disease, hypertension, migraine headaches, muscular dystrophy, Parkinson’s disease, and for improving the immune systems of individuals with HIV/AIDS. It is possibly ineffective for decreasing high cholesterol or triglyceride levels, and is likely ineffective for improving athletic performance or periodontal disease when applied directly to the teeth and gums. However, there is early evidence that when taken by mouth, CoQ10 MIGHT, and I stress MIGHT be helpful in treating gum disease. Several small clinical trials have indicated CoQ10 supplements may help prevent and treat gingivitis (inflamed gums); however, more evidence is needed before confirmation can be made. And that’s as close to a positive link as I can offer. At this stage, there is insufficient evidence to rate the effectiveness of CoQ10 for male infertility, breast cancer, diabetes, fatigue, Lyme disease, fibromyalgia and cyclic vomiting syndrome.
CoQ10 appears safe for most adults when taken by mouth or when applied directly to the gums. And, while generally well tolerated, it can cause stomach upset, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea in others. Interactions can occur with prescription drugs for hypertension, chemotherapy drugs for cancer, and warfarin which is an anticoagulant.
Because CoQ10 is fat soluble, the supplement should be taken with a meal that contains fat. Dosing depends on the reason for the deficiency and ranges from 100 mg per day divided into two or three doses for heart failure in adults to 2400 mg in three or four divided doses for Parkinson’s disease.
Thus, CoQ10 has been taken for countless medical conditions — sometimes successfully, sometimes perhaps not so successfully. We all respond differently to over-the-counters, herbs, supplements and prescription drugs, so be sure to check with your physician before beginning any regimen.