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Pattaya Daily News

29 September 2006 :: 15:09:14 pm 22000

Forever Young?

Antioxidants are very much the rage these days, touted as preventatives and treatments for everything from aging to cancer. Coenzyme Q10 (Co-Q) is a natural antioxidant -- a substance that destroys certain harmful molecules in the body -- and a critical player in our internal energy-producing processes. Co-Q may sound very beneficial, but do we really need to take Co-Q supplements on a regular basis?
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Co-Q is a vitamin-like substance that is present throughout the body, especially in the heart, liver, kidneys and pancreas. It is needed for cell growth and maintenance. We acquire some of it through food — especially organ meats, mackerel, peanuts, sardines and soy oil. Our bodies also synthesize it.

Co-Q levels decline with age — which has led to speculation that Co-Q supplements might help increase longevity.

Alas, research has shown just the opposite, albeit in lowly worms. Scientists often use worms to study aging because some kinds have a life span of only a few weeks. In a recent experiment, worms that were not able to make their own Co-Q (because of a genetic deficiency) lived 60% longer when Co-Q was not added to their diet.

Granted, human and worm physiologies are very different — but there is no evidence that an increased level of Co-Q increases lifespan or prevents illness.

That said, Co-Q does have clear benefits for people who already have certain medical problems. Other research — this time using people, not worms — indicates that Co-Q supplements may improve heart function in patients with congestive heart failure. Supplements also can protect cancer patients against the toxic effects that certain chemotherapy drugs have on the heart — but they may be harmful to patients receiving radiation therapy.

Good news: A small study, done just last fall by Clifford Shults, MD, associate professor of neuroscience, University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, showed that Co-Q supplements slowed the progression of Parkinson‘s disease in early stage patients.

If you have any of these conditions, talk with your health-care provider about using Co-Q in addition to any prescription drugs that you may be taking. Co-Q is available over the counter as tablets, powder-filled capsules and oil-based “gelcaps.” It causes minimal side effects — occasional diarrhea and other gastrointestinal upsets — and no known toxicity.

Although Co-Q may play a role in treating certain conditions, eating right and exercising regularly remain key to long-term health. Now that summer is nearly here, feast on fresh produce — plump strawberries, juicy watermelon slices, leafy green vegetables. Enjoy tennis, swimming and other outdoor activities. Such seasonal pleasures invigorate body and soul far more than any dietary supplement ever will.

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Health

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