Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an enzyme that helps generate energy in your cells. It can act as a powerful antioxidant, protecting your cells from damage, and boost your immune system. CoQ10 is also known as ubiquinone and vitamin Q10.
Most times, your body naturally produces enough CoQ10. But certain conditions like neurodegenerative diseases, fibromyalgia, and heart disease can reduce your levels. Taking cholesterol-lowering medications like statins may also reduce your levels of CoQ10.
Healthcare providers may want you to increase your CoQ10 levels. One way to do that is by taking a CoQ10 supplement. CoQ10 supplements have shown to offer health benefits with minimal safety risks.
Benefits of CoQ10
While a CoQ10 supplement isn't necessarily right for everyone—especially if you eat a balanced diet and do not have any underlying conditions—there are times when it might be beneficial. In fact, studies have found CoQ10 to be promising for improving several health issues.
May Improve Heart Health
There is some evidence that taking CoQ10 might have a positive effect on heart function, particularly in those with heart failure.
One study of 420 people with heart failure showed that, compared to a placebo, supplementing standard heart failure treatment with 100mg of CoQ10 three times a day for two years improved people's symptoms and decreased their risk of dying from heart problems.
CoQ10 could also help reduce high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, an inflammatory marker that can help predict your risk of heart disease. In one analysis, researchers discovered that people with cardiovascular disease who took a CoQ10 supplement for 12 weeks experienced a decrease in high-sensitivity C-reactive protein. The supplement dosage ranged from 30mg to 300mg a day, with the median dosage being 175mg a day.
CoQ10 has also been shown to prevent heart damage that certain chemotherapy drugs, such as doxorubicin, may cause.
May Reduce Muscle Pain From Statins
People who take statins (or cholesterol-lowering drugs) may experience muscle pain and cramping from the medication. Researchers believe this discomfort may be due to deficient levels of CoQ10 that statins may cause.
One small study had participants take 50mg of CoQ10 twice daily to see if boosting CoQ10 levels through supplementation could help mitigate the medication's effect. The study found that the supplement reduced mild-to-moderate muscular symptoms. The participants also felt less restricted from engaging in their daily activities.
May Reduce Migraine Headache
A review of six past studies showed that people with migraine who took a CoQ10 supplement for three months experienced improvements with their headaches. While the severity of their headaches didn't subside, the length of their headache attack shortened. They also experienced fewer headaches compared to those who took a placebo.
May Improve Fibromyalgia Symptoms
Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes pain throughout the body as well as fatigue and sleep problems. CoQ10 has the potential to decrease pain, fatigue, and morning tiredness in patients with fibromyalgia. Even the depression and anxiety often associated with the condition may be improved with supplementation.
In fact, one study found that CoQ10 can significantly improve most pain-related outcomes by 24% to 37%. This reduction in pain also could help improve the quality of life and daily functioning for people with fibromyalgia.
May Help With Erectile Dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction is when you have a problem getting and keeping an erection. A study that included 230 people found that CoQ10 supplementation may help with erectile dysfunction (ED).
In addition to ED, the study participants also all had high blood pressure, which is the most common condition alongside ED.
Everyone took 200g of CoQ10 a day for three months, on top of their hypertension medication. Those with mild ED saw improvements in their ED, with 20.1% no longer experiencing any symptoms. Those with moderate to severe ED did not experience such an impact.
ED has been linked to oxidative stress. Researchers believe CoQ10 can have a positive effect on ED because CoQ10 protects against oxidative damage.
May Help Manage Diabetes
Controlling your blood sugar (glucose) and insulin levels is an important part of preventing and managing diabetes. CoQ10 might be able to help with keeping those levels in check.
A review of 40 past studies showed that CoQ10 reduced both fasting glucose and fasting insulin levels. CoQ10 also reduced HbA1C, which is your average blood sugar over the last three months.
Among all the studies, the doses ranged from 100mg to 900mg a day. The supplement was used anywhere from four weeks to six months.
Among people with type 2 diabetes, CoQ10 has been shown to help with not only controlling blood sugar, but also improving cholesterol levels.
However, research on CoQ10's effectiveness in diabetes has been mixed. Most studies tend to show that the lowering effect on measurements like glucose and HbA1C isn't significant. But research on the supplement's effect on insulin is more promising.
Editor's Note: Aside from being naturally produced in the body, CoQ10 can also be obtained through your diet. CoQ10 is in:
- Meat, especially heart and chicken leg
- Fish, especially herring and trout
- Some oils
- Cereal, particularly rye and wheat
- Vegetables like spinach, peas, broccoli, and cauliflower
- Fruits like orange, strawberry, and apple
How to Take CoQ10
CoQ10 is available in tablets, capsules, soft gels, and a liquid oral supplement. It comes in formulations from 30mg to 600mg. There are topical over-the-counter versions that also are available, though research on this type of use is limited.
Because CoQ10 is a fat-soluble supplement, taking it with food that has oil or fat will help your body absorb it.
There is no established minimum or maximum effective dose of CoQ10.
Typically, a daily dose of CoQ10 ranges from 60mg to 1,000mg for up to 12 weeks. If you are taking more than 100mg, consider dividing the dose throughout the day so that you have less of a chance of experiencing any negative side effects.
How much you take may be based on the underlying condition you are trying to help. For instance, in heart-related studies, daily doses of 100mg to 400mg have been used. Meanwhile, when treating neurodegenerative diseases, doses of 600mg up to 3,000mg have been used.
If you are considering taking CoQ10, talk with a healthcare provider to determine the right amount for you based on your health history, health needs, and any medications or supplements you may be taking. Also make sure to read the product's dosage instructions.
Is CoQ10 Safe?
CoQ10 is generally considered safe for adults. It may also possible be safe for children (in smaller doses) and people who are pregnant, though you would want to consult with a healthcare provider before starting the supplement, especially because there has not been as much research in these groups. It is unknown how safe CoQ10 is for people who are breastfeeding.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved CoQ10 as a treatment for any particular condition, but it is still a commonly available and recommended supplement.
Potential Drug Interactions
Research indicates that CoQ10 may interact with some drugs and make them less effective. For this reason, it is important to share all of your medications and supplements with your healthcare provider before starting something new.
CoQ10 has been found to make the following medications less effective:
- Warfarin, a blood-thinning medication sold under the brand names Coumadin and Jantoven
- Insulin, a diabetes medication
- Some cancer drugs
CoQ10 may also add to the effects of blood pressure medications. It is possible that using the two together could cause your blood pressure to drop too low.
What to Look For
The FDA doesn't regulate supplements the same way it does medications. In fact, the FDA does not play any role in determining whether or not a dietary supplement is safe or effective before it hits shelves.
For this reason, it is important to look for supplements that have been third-party tested by an independent organization. Some of the most notable organizations include NSF International, U.S. Pharmacopeia, and ConsumerLab.
While these groups test supplements to make sure they are made properly and contain the ingredients listed on the label, this doesn’t automatically guarantee that the supplements are safe or effective for you personally. You still need to discuss their use with a healthcare provider.
And if you have allergies, you should ensure that common allergens are not included. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology indicates that people with allergies and asthma need to pay particularly close attention to the label. They also stress that just because a label says "natural" does not mean it is safe.
Can You Take Too Much CoQ10?
While it is possible to take too much of any supplement, CoQ10 tends to be very well-tolerated even at high doses. Research indicates that toxicity is unlikely, even up to a daily intake of 1,200mg a day. Keep in mind most studies have used typical dosages of 100mg to 200mg a day, though.
Side Effects of CoQ10
Research indicates that CoQ10 is likely safe when used as intended. In fact, no serious side effects have been reported. That said, you may experience mild side effects such as insomnia or digestive issues including upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
For instance, one study found that people who took 100mg or higher of CoQ10 each day for migraine experienced insomnia. Another study found that liver enzymes were elevated in people taking 300mg or more per day, but there was no liver toxicity.
While rare, other side effects may include:
- Sensitivity to light
A Quick Review
CoQ10, or coenzyme Q10, is an enzyme that is instrumental in helping cells make energy. It also serves as a powerful antioxidant to prevent cell damage. The body makes CoQ10 naturally, but it also available in supplement form. As a supplement, CoQ10 may play a role in the prevention and treatment of some chronic diseases. For instance, CoQ10 may help improve heart health, regulate blood sugar, and reduce the frequency of migraine headache.
If you are considering taking CoQ10, this is best done in partnership with a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian. They can advise you on what dosage is right for you and help determine if the supplement will interfere with any of your current supplements or medications.
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