A particular form of coenzyme Q10 – also known as CoQ10 – may be useful in treating the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, according to research from the Jutendo University School of Medicine in Japan.
The conclusion is the result of a two-year-long clinical study, during which they tested a group of 58 patients with Parkinson’s diseases who were experiencing a phase in Parkinson’s disease commonly known as the “wearing off” phase.
The “wearing off” phase occurs when the drugs used to treat Parkinson’s disease begin to lose their effectiveness, and Parkinson’s patients experience an increase in symptoms.
Patients were divided into groups – patients who were taking Parkinson’s drugs and patients who weren’t – and then sub-divided into further groups, some of whom were given a form of CoQ10 known as ubiquinol-10 and some of whom were given a placebo.
All the groups were measured before and after the study period using an index known as the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS), which is used to evaluate the range of symptoms experienced by a patient.
The index includes tests for cognition, behavior and mood, as well as a self-assessment of the patient’s ability to perform daily tasks, and a physicians assessment of the patient’s motor skills.
The study results showed that the CoQ10-treated patients who were also being treated with Parkinson’s medications had significantly better scores on the UPDRS index than the other patients(1).
This study follows another study, released last year, which determined that the oxidized form of CoQ10, ubiquinone, did not make a significant difference in the symptoms of Parkinson’s patients(2).
However, previous research has shown that Parkinson’s patients tend to have depleted levels of CoQ10. Depleted CoQ10 levels are also common in patients with depression(3) and chronic fatigue syndrome(4), among other conditions.
The Difference Between Oxidized And Reduced CoQ10
There are two common types of CoQ10 used for supplementation – ubiquinone (oxidized state) and ubiquinol (reduced form).
While scientists still don’t completely understand why ubiquinone doesn’t work as well as ubiquinol for treating Parkinson’s disease, many believe it may have something to do with the electron transport chain – a cycle that our cells use to create energy. During this cycle, ubiquinone gathers electrons, while ubiquinol provides electrons.
Ubiquinol is also an antioxidant, which can neutralize free radicals.
Where Can We Find CoQ10?
CoQ10 is produced by plants, and can be obtained from several dietary sources. Nuts, parsley, broccoli, sesame seeds and organ meats all contain CoQ10 in varying amounts.
You can also supplement your diet with CoQ10 capsules found in pharmacies and health food stores – but be aware: a 2004 study found that there are significant disparities between different brands of CoQ10 supplements – some supplements actually contained very little of the enzyme(5).