The nutrients that can make hearts better


Coenzyme Q10 and L-Arginine could prove a more effective treatment than statins for cardiovascular issues, writes LORNA SIGGINS

STATINS may lower cholesterol, but there is growing concern among doctors about the side effects of such medication, according to a Galway-based vascular surgeon.

Sherif Sultan says such side-effects may have been downplayed by manufacturers and he produced evidence at a recent conference hosted by the American Academy of Anti-Ageing in London suggesting certain types of statin may be depleting the body’s supply of an essential compound, coenzyme Q10.

He is not advocating that people quit the prescribed medication – statins are taken by an estimated eight million people in Britain and Ireland and have many benefits. However, he says cardiovascular patients who are prescribed the drug may require far more information than they are currently receiving from their doctors.

Coenzyme Q10 is crucial in producing adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which helps the heart to function effectively. It also contributes to cellular energy in the body. The coenzyme declines with age, and its prevalence is also affected by cardiovascular disease, which claims 17 million lives a year, according to World Health Organisation figures.

Sultan is already on record for warning that refined sugar is more dangerous to human health than smoking and high cholesterol combined.

He says 30 minutes of daily exercise, along with a high-vegetable and low-refined-sugar diet can reduce cardiovascular disease risks. He is also a firm believer in applying nutrigenomics to tackle depletion of co-enzyme Q10.

This “nutrient-led” approach can improve health and longevity, and not just for those affected by age or medical factors or both, he says.

Nutrigenomics involves the study of the impact of foods and their constituents on “gene expression”. Certain nutrients can mimic natural recovery or self-repair through a “nutrient-gene interaction”.

The nutrients coenzyme Q10 and L-Arginine were Nobel Prize-winning discoveries, and the latter compound is regarded as a leading amino acid in cardiovascular repair and regeneration.

L-Arginine helps to reduce blood pressure and lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, otherwise known as bad cholesterol. Sultan says these two agents have “singularly led to cardiovascular cures, even in life-threatening situations, without the need for more invasive intervention”.

They have been used to treat acute carotid dissection – a condition that can lead to stroke and possible disablement or death if left untreated.

They have also produced what he describes as “phenomenal results” in wound management, but he has cautioned that robust clinical trials are required before such results can be taken a step further.

David O’Connor, a Galway-based financial consultant who was involved in sales of an American L-Arginine product, heard about Sultan’s theory and decided to investigate further.

O’Connor teamed up with fellow Galwegian Liam Salmon to form a company that is producing a food supplement containing all the elements of Sultan’s “wishlist”.

The result, Revive Q10 Plus, is manufactured in sachet form by ABC Nutrition in Shannon, Co Clare, as a single water-soluble supplement.

Not only does it comprise coenzyme Q10 and L-Arginine, but other key ingredients include L-Carnitine, magnesium, citrulline, glutamine, vitamins B6, B12, C, D3 and K2, along with D-Ribose and folic acid.

In Sultan’s view, a successful cardiovascular anti-ageing diet involves reducing calorie intake by 30 per cent, increasing green leafy vegetables by 60 per cent and cutting back on refined sugar intake by 90 per cent.

In the US, health insurers give incentives to customers who take substances such as L-Arginine.

O’Connor says the Revive Q10-Plus supplement is already selling in a number of pharmacies and health food shops here, and is being marketed in Europe. Its value for high-performance athletes is being assessed in Britain.

It adheres to European guidelines on natural health supplements, and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland has also been notified, O’Connor says.