Statins are a commonly prescribed medication for people with high levels of LDL (or “Bad”) cholesterol. People are prescribed statins to lower their risk of having cardiovascular disease and prevent events like heart attack or stroke.
As with most medications, statins also have their list of potential side effects. Rarely, people can experience more serious side effects such as liver or kidney disease, memory loss, or rhabdomyolysis. More commonly, if people experience side effects from statins they’ll encounter digestive issues or muscle pain and weakness.
There are a couple theories why statins can cause muscle pain or weakness. One theory is that statins affect a protien in our muscles which will negatively affect muscle growth. Another theory has been the topic of multiple studies and has to deal with a natural substance in our bodies called coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10).
CoQ10 is produced naturally in our bodies and it’s essential for normal function. This substance helps our muscles produce energy while also acting as a powerful antioxidant. CoQ10 can come in a variety of foods in our diet – though they might not all sound appealing. The highest sources of CoQ10 are found in animal organ meats (i.e. heart, liver). There are also higher levels of CoQ10 in the regular (muscle) meat in animals, some oils (i.e. olive or soybean oil), and nuts.
So How Does CoQ10 Deal With Statins?
Statins lower the levels of CoQ10 in our bodies – which decreases our ability to generate energy and fight free radicals. Researchers believe that this drop in CoQ10 is what can lead to the muscle pain and weakness that patients taking statins can experience. This has led some doctors to prescribe CoQ10 supplements to their patients taking statins to prevent muscle pain as well as improve the health and function of their blood vessels.
CoQ10 could be a viable solution for statin users experiencing muscle pain. It may even an important substance to supplement for any statin users since the mechanism of how statins work automatically lowers CoQ10 levels. Our CoQ10 levels also begin to diminish as we get older, so it may also be important to supplement in our golden years. While CoQ10 supplementation is considered relatively safe, you may want to consult with your doctor before starting a CoQ10 supplement (see below).
There are relatively few side effects to taking a CoQ10 supplement with the most common complaint being stomach discomfort. However, some people may need to consult with their doctor before starting CoQ10 supplementation. CoQ10 can lower your blood sugar levels, meaning diabetics will have to monitor their blood sugar closely and should consult with their doctor. CoQ10 can also interact with medications including beta-blockers, antidepressants, and chemotherapy drugs – so patients on these will need to consult with their doctor.