CoQ10 may help the troubled brain

Coenzyme Q10 is a nutrient found in all living things, including humans. Produced by the body, CoQ10 works with enzymes to produce metabolic reactions, and is essential for energy production. CoQ10 is also a potent antioxidant — so potent that it is widely used in Europe and Asia in the treatment of congestive heart failure. Now, scientists have turned their attention to the link between CoQ10 and neurological conditions.

One such condition is Parkinson’s disease, which damages nerve cells in the brain causing tremors, rigidity and impaired speech. Since oxidative (free radical) damage is a hallmark of this disease, researchers at Ruhr University in Germany conducted a study to see if CoQ10’s antioxidant properties could benefit Parkinson’s patients. In this double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 28 patients were given 360 mg per day of CoQ10 for four weeks. The researchers found that patients given CoQ10 showed improvements in both mild Parkinson’s symptoms and visual function. They concluded that their results “indicate a moderate beneficial effect of oral CoQ10 supplementation” in Parkinson’s patients.

Another neurological condition that may benefit from CoQ10 is Leigh’s syndrome, characterized by the degeneration of the central nervous system. A small study in Belgium involved a 31-year-old woman diagnosed with Leigh’s syndrome who suffered deafness, growth retardation and ataxia (no balance or coordination). She was given CoQ10 daily for a five-year period, during which, the researchers report, she showed remarkable improvements, including resuming walking, undergoing puberty and growing 20 cm. The researchers suggest CoQ10 deficiency may be a factor in Leigh’s syndrome.

Sources: Ann Neurol. 2002 Dec;52(6):750-4; Neurosci Lett. 2003 May 8;341(3);201-4