Many of the millions of Americans who take statin drugs to lower cholesterol complain of muscle aches that cause them to give up or avoid the medications. Researchers have now discovered why this happens.
It’s estimated that one-fourth of Americans age 40 and over are taking these drugs, which work by blocking the liver’s production of excess cholesterol — a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
Now researchers from the Netherlands are confirming what seemed to be apparent before; that the side effects are likely due to statins’ effects on the energy production centers, or mitochondria, of muscle cells.
Statins exist in two forms: acid and lactone. Most statin drugs are of the acid form and target cholesterol production in the liver.
But researchers have found that the lactone form of statin interferes with the function of mitochondria, which are the “energy centers” in the body’s cells.
Using muscle cells from mice, the team found statins of the lactone form are three times more powerful at disrupting mitochondria than those of the acid form.
The investigators said more studies are needed to determine which statins might be the culprit. But in the meantime, CoQ10 helps replenish the cell’s mitochondria, which is why I recommend that my patients taking statins also take 200 to 400 mg of this supplement daily.
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