A high intake of lutein appears to slow down cognitive decline, a US study suggests, as findings appear to support previous outcomes linking this nutrient to improved mental health.
What a difference 15 years make. They’re barely a crease on the face of time, but within their span we’ve seen movies go from DVD to the Cloud, telephones from utilities to virtual appendages, and coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) from “niche” nutrient to veritable household name.
And Scott Steinford, executive director of the CoQ10 Association (Salt Lake City), has been around to witness it all. By the Association’s reckoning, CoQ10 is currently the fourth most consumed specialty supplement in North America, and the expectations, he says, are “for continued growth as education and awareness of its benefits are demonstrated.”
Indeed, CoQ10’s compound annual growth rate (CAGR) has held above 20% for more than the past decade and a half. And where the number of brands identified with the compound stood at 18 in 2001, the tally reached a full 123 by 2016. As for the size of the North American market, “skyrocketed” may be too dramatic a term, but there’s no denying that its ascent from an estimated 3.7 million consumers in 2001 to 16.5 million in 2016 is impressive.
As it happens, one factor that’s driven those consumers to CoQ10 is another inescapable force of change these past 15 years: the Internet. As Steinford says, “The Internet is affording consumers a lot of opportunity for education.” Recalling his own “discovery” of CoQ10 back in the era of hard-copy journals, he notes that the opportunities for diving into research then were limited to all but those with access to major libraries. But now, he says, the Internet unlocks “in a matter of moments literally thousands of studies that support CoQ10. And that’s driving demand because consumers are generating their own interest and knowledge.”
Knowledge Is Power
What knowledge are they generating? For starters, they’re becoming reacquainted with the electron transport chain they first encountered in high school biology, and with CoQ10’s role as a crucial electron carrier in it. In that capacity, CoQ10 helps cells generate ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which, as the body’s fundamental energy-transfer currency, is the stuff of life itself.
No wonder, then, that this ubiquitous compound—not coincidentally known as ubiquinone—resides in nearly every cell of the body, primarily in the mitochondria where electron transport occurs. But CoQ10 does more than carry electrons. As a natural antioxidant, it shields lipids and proteins from oxidation, and as one of the most investigated ingredients in the health space—with 3,000-plus studies referenced on PubMed, Steinford says—CoQ10 is emerging as a compound with the potential to improve everything from heart health and cognitive function to oral health, sports performance, and more.
Research has shown that long-term high doses may slow symptom progressions in early-stage Parkinson’s patients. In patients with heart failure, CoQ10 decreases hospitalizations, reduces labored breathing and edema, and increases overall quality of life, per other studies. Steinford even notes that the Q-SYMBIO Trial found that long-term CoQ10 treatment in patients with chronic heart failure safely attenuated symptoms and reduced major adverse cardiovascular events. “As more clinical studies are completed,” he says, “the ingredient will continue to be one of the most important options in the supplement market.”
The Cardiologist Connection
One sure sign of that importance is the buy-in CoQ10 gets from heart doctors. As Steinford notes, “Cardiologists are getting onboard with CoQ10 at a fairly significant rate. With more studies supporting its strength, these thought leaders are recommending it.”
A 2015 online study fielded by Research Now and commissioned by the CoQ10 Association found that 45% of cardiologists, without prompting, say they recommend CoQ10 to their patients, and that almost one in four—especially younger doctors—are eager to learn more about its efficacy and therapeutic use, Steinford says.
To no small extent, CoQ10’s future lies in these professionals’ hands—and in those of the scientific community tasked with researching it. Yet knowledge about its benefits “is still at its infancy,” Steinford maintains.
Perhaps not for long. “I recognized when I first encountered CoQ10,” he says, “that the more educated you become about it, the more it impresses you.”
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By Elaine Watson, 13-Jun-2017
Lutein and zeaxanthin isomers are powerful antioxidants that specifically deposit in the neural tissues of the eyes and brain. Lutein and zeaxanthin are especially concentrated in the eye’s central retina, where they form the macular pigment, and have been proven critical to visual function. In fact, macular pigment optical density (MPOD) is thought to be a good indicator of the body’s supply of lutein and zeaxanthin and has been shown to be significantly correlated with brain levels of lutein and zeaxanthin.
Researchers at the University of Georgia (Athens, GA) recently published a study that found that macular carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin isomers may help to lower psychological stress levels and reduce serum cortisol. Chronic stress affects millions of people worldwide and has been linked to a variety of health issues, including high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, and anxiety. These results come part of the LAMA II (Lutein, Vision, and Mental Acuity II) study and are now published in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience.1
In this study, the researchers sought to determine whether there is a link between MPOD and psychological stress level, serum cortisol, and symptoms of suboptimal emotional and physical health. Suboptimal mental conditions such as anxiety and depression are both greatly impacted by stress, indicating that although the two are discrete disorders, they share a common root in psychological stress. While lutein and zeaxanthin isomers have previously proven beneficial to eye health, the researchers hoped that the LAMA II study would show the extent to which lutein and zeaxanthin isomers might relieve psychological stress.
Fifty-nine healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 25 participated in the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled LAMA II study in which the study authors measured blood cortisol, psychological stress ratings, behavioral measures of mood, and symptoms of suboptimal health. Measurements were recorded at beginning of the study, at six months, and after one year of daily supplementation with either a placebo or one of two doses of Lutemax 2020, OmniActive Health Technologies Inc.’s (Mumbai, India) proprietary ingredient combining lutein, zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin. Test subjects were given either 13 mg/day Lutemax 2020 (comprising 10 mg lutein plus 2 mg zeaxanthin) or 27 mg/day Lutemax 2020 (comprising 20 mg lutein plus 4 mg of zeaxanthin).
MPOD increased significantly from baseline to six months, and from six months to one year, in both 13 and 27 mg/day Lutemax 2020 groups. In addition, both groups exhibited significantly lower serum cortisol scores and numbers of suboptimal health symptoms compared to the placebo group, with the higher 27-mg/day group experiencing an even greater increase in MPOD and a sharper decrease in serum cortisol and other suboptimal health symptoms. For the placebo group, no significant changes were observed in any measure over the course of the 12-month study. Overall, supplementation of both doses of Lutemax 2020 for six months significantly improved psychological stress, serum cortisol, and measures of emotional and physical health compared to placebo, which was either maintained or further improved after an additional six months.
“This compelling research demonstrates the expanded benefits of supplementing with lutein and zeaxanthin isomers to help address the huge public health concern surrounding elevated stress and cortisol levels,” said Abhijit Bhattacharya, president of OmniActive Health Technologies, in a press release.
While the LAMA II study is an early analysis of the benefits of macular carotenoids for stress and anxiety relief (the study group was fairly homogenous, and none of the subjects were diagnosed with depression or anxiety), Bhattacharya said, “The results of LAMA II serve as a strong foundation on which new macular carotenoids science can be built.”
Last November, LAMA II study researchers reported separate findings from the vision arm of the study. In that arm, researchers found that Lutemax 2020 improved photostress recovery and glare performance.