The supplement veterans should be taking

Some U.S. veterans who have served in the Middle East seem to have suffered persistent, puzzling medical problems. But researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report that there’s a dietary supplement that may improve the health of many of them.

The study shows that taking coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) can improve the condition of veterans suffering Gulf War Illness syndrome contracted during the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf War.

Symptoms of the syndrome include skin problems, extreme fatigue, weakness, muscle pain and cognitive difficulties.

“Gulf War illness is not the same as post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury, signature illnesses of later deployments, which are caused by psychological and mechanical injury, respectively,” says researcher Beatrice Golomb. “Evidence instead links Gulf War illness to chemical exposures, such as pesticides or pills given to soldiers to protect them from possible nerve agents. These chemicals can damage mitochondria, which generate the energy our cells need to do their jobs. When these powerhouses of the cells are disrupted, it can produce symptoms compatible with those seen in Gulf War illness.”

CoQ10 is a natural antioxidant that your body makes. It supports the basic functions of cells and helps the mitochondria, small structures in each cell, make the energy the body needs to function.

During the three and a half month study, 80 percent of the veterans taking 100mg of CoQ10 daily had better physical function. They also had relief from fatigue, headaches, memory issues, muscle pain and irritability.

“The statistical significance of these benefits, despite the small sample size, underscores the large magnitude of the effects,” Golomb says. “Mounting evidence suggests findings in Gulf War illness are relevant to toxin-induced health problems in the civilian sector, so what we learn by studying health challenges of these veterans, will likely benefit others.”

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Carl Lowe

By Carl Lowe

has written about health, fitness and nutrition for a wide range of publications including Prevention Magazine, Self Magazine and Time-Life Books. The author of more than a dozen books, he has been gluten-free since 2007.