Q10 and selenium are powerful antioxidants that are important for the heart, cardiovascular system, and the energy turnover. As we grow older, our endogenous Q10 synthesis decreases, and many people lack selenium. A Swedish study has shown that older people who take supplements of Q10 and selenium have a 50 percent lower cardiovascular death rate. Another (more recent) Swedish study shows that Q10 and selenium also increase elderly peoples’ levels of IGF-1, a hormone with many functions in the body. The scientists assume that this helps reduce the risk of cardiac death among elderly people.
IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1) is a peptide hormone with, among other things, an insulin-like effect and with a role in cellular growth and protein synthesis in muscle tissue. IGF-1 is also an antioxidant and is involved in anti-inflammatory processes. Circulating IGF-1 in the blood is produced by the liver, but it is also produced locally in other tissues. The body’s IGF-1 production decreases with age, and this may affect many functions in the metabolism and the protein synthesis in muscle tissue, including the heart muscle. The production of IGF-1 also goes down in connection with inflammation and advanced cardiovascular disease. It was therefore obvious for the Swedish researchers to follow up an earlier study (KiSel-10) and look at how supplements of selenium and Q10 would affect older people’s production of IGF-1.
The combination of selenium and Q10 is highly relevant
The study, which was headed by Urban Alehagen, a cardiologist from the University of Linköping in Sweden, showed that the combination of selenium and Q10 was highly relevant. Q10 is a coenzyme that is involved in cellular energy turnover. The body’s ability to produce Q10 decreases as we grow older, and this especially affects organs like the heart, which is highly dependent on energy. It also turns out that 90% of the older Swedish population lacks selenium. This trace element has a number of essential functions in the body and is vital in order for Q10 to function optimally in the energy turnover in cells. In addition, both Q10 and selenium are powerful antioxidants that protect the heart and cardiovascular system against free radicals and oxidative stress.
Just for the record, Europe’s agricultural soil generally has a very low selenium content, and selenium deficiency is therefore a widespread problem in Europe.
Did you know that cardiovascular disease is the single largest cause of death among elderly people?
Q10 and selenium increase IGF-1 and improve heart health
The study included 215 older people, who were divided in two groups and matched for gender, age, health status, use of medicine etc. One group took 200 milligrams of Q10 and 200 micrograms of selenium daily, while the other group got matching placebo. The study lasted for four years, and neither the participants nor the scientists knew who got what. It was a so-called double-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled study.
During the study, the participants’ blood pressure was measured, and they also had an echocardiogram that measures the heart rate. Moreover, blood samples were taken to measure IGF-1 concentrations in serum.
At baseline, no significant differences were found in serum levels of IGF-1 in the two groups. However, at the end of the four-year study, the subjects in the group that took Q10 and selenium
had an increased and significantly higher IGF-1 level compared with the placebo group (here, the level had dropped, quite as expected). The group that took Q10 and selenium also had significantly higher levels of protein that binds to IGF-1 and is called insulin-like growth factor binding protein 1 (or IGFBP-1).
Several earlier studies have shown that in people with ischemic heart disease and coronary occlusion have lower levels of IGF-1. According to experts, low IGF-1 levels can predict the development of cardiovascular disease. Based on the new study, Urban Alehagen and his team of researchers therefore assume that there is a relation between Q10’s and selenium’s ability to increase IGF-1 levels and the observed improvements of heart health.
The KiSel-10 study showed a 54% lower cardiovascular mortality rate
The new study supports the previous KiSel-10 study that was also headed by Urban Alehagen. This study was carried out with 443 healthy men and women aged 70-88 years. One group got 200 milligrams of Q10 and 200 micrograms of selenium yeast daily, while the other group got matching placebo. Every six months, the participants were measured, weighed, and registered.
The study showed that the people who took Q10 and selenium had a 54% lower risk of cardiovascular mortality and fewer hospitalizations. The study also showed that the group that took Q10 and selenium had a substantially better heart muscle function, which also contributed to improved quality of life and increased life expectancy.
The heart-protective effects lasts for many years
10 years after the original KiSel-10 study was terminated, Urban Alehagen and his team of scientists observed that the heart-protective effect continued for many years after the study was terminated. The study participants in the group that originally took the two nutrients for a four-year period still had 50% lower cardiovascular mortality than the participants who took placebo. The positive effect is most likely even greater if people continue to take the two supplements (upon completing the study.)
Research on healthy people - new perspectives
The KiSel-10 study and the follow-up are rather unique in that both studies focus on healthy individuals and on how one can stay healthy and alive.
Urban Alehagen et al. Increase in insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) and insulin-like growth factor binding protein 1 after supplementation with selenium and coenzyme Q10. A prospective randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial among elderly Swedish citizens. PLOS ONE. June 13, 2017
Alehagen U, et al. Cardiovascular mortality and N-Terminal-proBNP reduced after combined selenium and coenzyme Q10 supplementation. Int J Cardiol. 2012
Andreassen M et all. IGF1 as predictor of all-cause mortality and cardiovascular disease in elderly population. Eur J. Endocrinol 2009
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Eur J Clin Nutr. 2016 Jan; 70(1):91-6
Niels Hertz: Hjertesund Senior. Ny Videnskab. 2012
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