Ubiquinol supplementation for heart health and cardiovascular health

Cardiovascular health is essential for overall health and wellbeing.

Incorporating the heart, blood vessels and blood circulation, the cardiovascular system delivers oxygen, nutrients, hormones, and other molecules to cells throughout the body, supporting optimal tissue and organ performance. Maintaining cardiovascular health can enhance longevity, vitality and quality of life and depends, to a large degree, on making smart lifestyle choices, eating a healthy diet, quitting smoking and getting enough exercise.

“Heart health as a category includes cardiovascular health – cardio meaning the heart, and vascular meaning the whole vascular system,” says Risa Schulman, Senior Science and Regulatory Adviser, Kaneka. “These systems are all connected and are integral to wellbeing.”

Maintaining healthy blood vessels is another key part of cardiovascular health. Blood vessels are a network of tubular structures, composed of multiple, dynamic layers, responsible for carrying blood to and from tissues and organs. Healthy blood vessels are flexible, hose-like structures with smooth inner linings, designed to promote efficient blood flow and optimize the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to cells.

Blood vessels are designed to widen or constrict depending on how much blood the body needs. When we are resting or inactive, our organs require less blood, but when we need more oxygen – during exercise, for example – the heart pumps faster and the vessels need to respond by expanding to accommodate more blood flow.

“Our vessels need to be on standby, ready to open and transport more blood as soon as the body needs it. This process, known as vasodilation, is triggered by nitric oxide, a chemical that turns on the ‘switch’ that results in opening up the vessel,” says Schulman. “After exercise or activity, when the body is cooling down, the vessels constrict. When our blood vessels are pliable and free from obstruction, they are able to promote efficient blood flow, supplying the tissues with the oxygen and nutrients they need.”

When blood vessel health is compromised it can lead to reduced flow of blood to vital organs and tissues, impacting their function. This is why supporting blood vessel health is so important.

What factors affect our blood vessels and, crucially, how can we maintain vessel health?

LDL cholesterol and its impact on vascular health

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol – sometimes referred to as ‘bad cholesterol’ – travels in the blood and is susceptible to oxidation by reactive oxygen species (ROS), also known as ‘free radicals’. When this happens, LDL turns into oxidised LDL and its chemical structure changes. It becomes sticky, sticks to itself and forms small aggregates that can stick to the cells lining the inner vessel walls. These adhesions are called ’fatty streaks’, because that’s what they actually are and look like. Over time, changes in endothelial cells can occur, impacting the ability of vessels to maintain healthy blood flow. Environmental and lifestyle factors, such as smoking and poor diet, can contribute to this process.

“The more oxidised LDL in your blood, the more these fatty streaks can build up,” says Schulman. “They start to encroach into the endothelial cells. 

“Protecting LDL from oxidation is key to maintaining vessel health and overall cardiovascular health,” says Schulman.

To some extent, oxidation is a natural process and is an inevitable part of being alive. The question is, at what point will it start to compromise vascular health, and how do we maintain optimal health?

Clinically validated: Ubiquinol for cardiovascular health

Ubiquinol is a potent lipid-soluble antioxidant that can help support and maintain blood vessel health by scavenging free radicals and protecting LDL cholesterol from oxidation – thereby helping to protect endothelial cells from damage. In fact, ubiquinol is carried through the blood attached to LDL cholesterol particles and so is already positioned to carry out this function. In addition, because ubiquinol plays an essential role in the production of cellular energy, particularly in cells with high energy demands such as the heart, it supports the structure and function of the whole system, promoting healthy circulation and cardiovascular health.

The body’s nutritional requirements change throughout different life stages and supplementation is an effective way to support the body’s needs. CoQ10 is naturally produced in the body and plays a key role in the production of cellular energy. After gaining two electrons, CoQ10 is in its reduced, antioxidant form as ubiquinol. CoQ10 is constantly switching between these two forms. Levels of CoQ10 / ubiquinol in the body can decline as we age. Ubiquinol supplementation is an effective way to replenish depleted ubiquinol levels and promote heart health.

Kaneka Ubiquinol®​, introduced into the US marketplace in 2007, has been the subject of over 60 published clinical studies. A recent study by Sabbatinelli et al. (2020) used flow mediated dilation (FMD) to investigate the direct effects of ubiquinol on vessel health.1 ​FMD is a non-invasive endothelial function test that assesses how well blood vessels dilate in response to increased demand for blood flow.

The Sabbatinelli study was a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel group trial including 48 men and post-menopausal women with mild to moderate dyslipidemia (high cholesterol). After supplementing with 100 or 200 mg of ubiquinol daily for eight weeks, subjects experienced an increase in plasma ubiquinol, which was accompanied by a statistically significant and clinically meaningful increase in FMD of 1.3%, while the placebo group had a decrease (-0.41%; p<0.001 for treatment vs placebo for both doses). The increase was correlated with both plasma total CoQ10 (p=0.022) and improvements in CoQ10 oxidative status (p=0.014).

“This is a pivotal clinical study that shows ubiquinol’s direct effects on vessel health,” says Schulman.

The results also demonstrated a dose-dependent increase in nitrate / nitrite (NOx) in comparison to the placebo – the precursor molecule used to form nitric oxide – and a decrease in LDL oxidation lag time (200 mg ubiquinol, p=0.017), which correlated with FMD values.

Ubiquinol and mitochondrial health

Aside from their role in cellular energy production, mitochondria are understood to play a key role in cellular homeostasis. They are involved in regulating gene expression, particularly relating to pro- and anti-inflammatory processes, as well as programmed cell death. Mitochondria undergo a constant dance of fission and fusion to control their numbers and size, which is called mitochondrial dynamics.

An imbalance in any of these processes can disrupt homeostasis which has emerged as a significant factor in proper vascular function.2​ This is currently an active area of research given the implications for healthy aging and overall wellbeing. 

References

1.​ Sabbatinelli, J.; Orlando, P.; Galeazzi, R.; et al. Ubiquinol ameliorates endothelial dysfunction in subjects with mild-tomoderate dyslipidemia: A randomized clinical trial. ​Nutrients. 2020:12(4):1098.
2. ​Zhu, T.; Hu, Q.; Yuan, Y.; et al. Mitochondrial dynamics in vascular remodeling and target-organ damage.​ Front Cardiovasc Med. 2023 Feb 13;10:1067732.

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