Results of a new randomized controlled trial conducted by Swedish researchers and published in the International Journal of Cardiology1 strongly suggest that a combination of two dietary supplements, selenium and coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), may lower the risk of death from heart disease.
Selenium is a trace mineral that is found in soil, water, and some foods. It is essential for human health and plays a role in dozens of biological functions and is considered a powerful antioxidant. It has been studied widely for its role in prevention and treatment of heart failure. High levels are associated with a lower risk of developing certain cancers, including prostate, bladder and thyroid.
CoQ10, which is also known as ubiquinone, is found in nearly every cell in the body. It is most highly concentrated within the mitochondria, the structures within the cell that convert the raw materials in dietary carbohydrates, proteins, and fats into energy. Energy demanding cells such as those in the heart and liver contain the greatest amount of CoQ10 since they contain the most mitochondria per cell. Although the body manufactures its own CoQ10, production peaks by age 20. Low levels of CoQ10 have been linked with fatigue, chronic pain, a weakened immune system, and increased risk of heart disease.
In the study, 443 Swedish men and women between the ages of 70 and 88 were randomized into two groups and given either a daily combination of 200 mg CoQ10/200 mcg selenium per day or a placebo over a 4-year period.
Among the key findings:
- Nearly 13 percent of the placebo group died of cardiovascular disease, compared to just 6 percent of the selenium/CoQ10 group.
- The biomarker NT-proBNP, a predictor of heart attack risk, was significantly lower in the selenium/CoQ10 group than the placebo group.
This study is significant in that it’s one of the few randomized controlled trials (considered by many to be the “gold standard” of scientific evidence) to demonstrate relationship between specific nutrients and disease.
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1 Alehagen U, Johansson P, Björnstedt M, Rosén A, Dahlström U. Cardiovascular mortality and N-terminal-proBNP reduced after combined selenium and coenzyme Q10 supplementation: a 5-year prospective randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial among elderly Swedish citizens. Int J Cardiol. 2012 May 22 [Epub ahead of print]