Coenzyme Q10 (COQ10) is found in your mitochondria to assist in energy production. While it is essential, you don’t need to supplement with COQ10 because your body naturally produces it. However, as you age, levels naturally decrease and supplementation becomes necessary.
It’s worthy to note that diseases such as fibromyalgia, heart disease, depression, Prader-Willi syndrome, male infertility, Peyronie’s disease, migraines, and Parkinson’s are linked to low levels of COQ10. In turn, supplementation of COQ10 is recommended to improve the symptoms of those diseases.
At the end of the day, COQ10 does have several benefits and a few side effects. Read below to discover if COQ10 is right for you.
COQ10 plays a substantial role in enhancing blood flow. COQ10 increases the effectiveness of nitric oxide to improve blood flow while providing effects that counter estrogen’s activity in the body.
CoQ10 protects the blood vessels. COQ10 is seen to reduce the damage caused by oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL cholesterol) on the walls of blood vessels (1).
A 2010 study published in the Journal of Molecular Neuroscience showed that COQ10 could even reduce plaque buildup in found in the arteries (2).
CoQ10 protects against heart disease. One study published in the European Heart Journal (2007) demonstrated that CoQ10 could cut the risk of dying from sudden cardiac arrest in half (3).
The study utilized a multi-center, randomized, double-blind test with 420 patients who experience heart failure all over the world. They were divided into two groups, where half supplemented with CoQ10 and half were given a placebo as well as the typical post heart failure treatment.
CoQ10 is beneficial because it works with your body to safely correct the metabolic function of an energy-starved heart seen in chronic heart failure as opposed to blocking cellular processes and causing undesired side effects (which is what other medications are seen to do) (4).
This study continued for two years showing that patients taking CoQ10 cut their risk of another major cardiovascular event, one requiring hospitalization, in half. In fact, their risk of dying from all-cause mortality was cut in half as well (5).
Interestingly, CoQ10 levels are seen to decrease in heart muscle tissue after heart failure. This may explain why supplementation of CoQ10 in those patients with heart failure saw improved quality of life with no side effects.
CoQ10 is seen to be the first supplement to improve survival in chronic heart failure since the discovery of ACE inhibitors over 11 years ago according to the principal investigator of the study (6).
Coq10 helps prevent heart complications. One research paper in the Journal of Cardiac failure (1995), reviewed several studies showing that patients with heart failure supplementing daily with CoQ10 showed significantly fewer complications and symptoms compared to those taking the placebo (7).
Similarly, a review published in Atherosclerosis provides evidence that CoQ10 may only be effective in those with heart failure and has little to no effect in improving the health of the cardiovascular system in patients without heart disease (8).
CoQ10 has been shown to lower inflammation. A 2013 study showed that Coenzyme Q10 supplementation at 300 mg/d significantly enhances antioxidant enzymes activities and reduces inflammation in patients who have coronary artery disease (9).
CoQ10 is seen to reduce muscle-wasting. Rhabdomyolysis is a dangerous muscle-wasting disease linked to low levels of CoQ10 caused by statins (10).
One study published in the American Journal of Cardiology showed evidence that CoQ10 supplementation can decrease muscle breakdown and pain in patients taking statins (11).
CoQ10 works as an antioxidant. A study out of the Heart Research Institute (Sydney, Australia) showed that CoQ10 reduces levels of lipid peroxidation in the blood (12).
This shows how CoQ10 works as an antioxidant to prevent fats or cholesterol from becoming oxidized or “sticky” and gives insight into how CoQ10 can clean up blood vessels to improve heart health.
However, while CoQ10 is an effective antioxidant, there are more potent antioxidants out there (13).
CoQ10 has shown to reduce hypertension in certain individuals. A meta-analysis published in the Journal of Human Hypertension (2007) showed coenzyme Q10 has the potential in hypertensive patients to lower systolic blood pressure by up to 17 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by up to 10 mm Hg without significant side effects (14).
CoQ10 helps to improve your endothelial cell function. Endothelial cells work to produce nitric oxide so that your blood vessels can smoothly and effectively transport nutrients to your cells and waste away from your cells.
One study in 2013 demonstrated that CoQ10 could help improve endothelial cell function modestly (15). However, it is only in those that have a deficiency, to begin with.
CoQ10 is seen to reduce symptoms of Peyronie’s disease. Peyronie’s disease is a painful condition in males due to physical trauma to the penis causing painful erections.
A 2010 study done by Safarinejad in the International Journal of Impotence Research showed that there is a significant reduction in pain and symptoms in Peyronie’s disease seen with supplementation of CoQ10, making CoQ10 one of the only oral treatments for this disease (16).
CoQ10 helps balance and maintain adequate pH levels in the body. Because of this, it is believed that CoQ10 can help improve lower the risk of disease and improve overall immune function. One study from the national cancer institute even showed women supplementing with coq10 for breast cancer had their conditions improve significantly (17).
CoQ10 helps mitigate muscle soreness. One 2007 study showed that CoQ10 supplementation could result in a decrease of muscle soreness and breakdown (18).
However, another study done in 2015 showed that it has no effect on muscle soreness whatsoever (19).
CoQ10 protects against cognitive decline. Studies show that those with cognitive impairments have decreased levels of coq10 circulating in their bloodstream. Coq10 supplementation has shown promises of offsetting or at least delay cognitive aging (20).
Furthermore, studies have shown that individuals with Parkinson’s disease taking 360mg of CoQ10 daily for 4 weeks had their conditions improve (21).
Coq10 has been shown to improve fertility. As you age, protection against oxidative damage towards eggs and sperm decline. Coq10 supplementation seems to protect against this – and may even reverse it.
One 2013 meta-analysis showed that while pregnancy rates did not increase, overall sperm motility and concentration increased dramatically (22).
Another study done in 2016 showed that CoQ10 (among other antioxidants improved the number, motility, morphology and sometimes DNA integrity of sperm (23).
CoQ10 may protect against skin aging. A 2015 study showed that topical treatment with coenzyme Q10-containing formulas improves skin’s Q10 level and provides antioxidative effects. Moreover, the results demonstrated that stressed skin benefits from the topical Q10 treatment by reduction of free radicals and an increase in antioxidant capacity (24).
It may also decrease the risk of skin cancer.
Coq10 can help with headaches. One study published in Neurology (2005) demonstrated that CoQ10 supplementation reduced the occurrence of a migraine by a factor of 3 (25).
Another study – in which 1550 people were examined – showed that Coq10 deficiency increased headache probability and severity. It also demonstrated that supplementation remedied those issues (26).
Coq10 can help with diabetes. A 2014 study showed that CoQ10 improves insulin sensitivity and adjusts type 2 diabetic disorder (27).
Another study done in 2015 showed that CoQ10 might help prevent diabetes by stimulating the breakdown of fats and reducing the accumulation of fat cells that could lead to obesity or type 2 diabetes (28).
Coq10 protects your lungs. Since your lungs have the most contact with oxygen, they have the most opportunity for oxidative damage. This can result in lung diseases such as asthma.
A 2005 study demonstrated that supplementation with antioxidant inducing nutrients (such as coQ10) reduced inflammation in individuals who had asthma, as well as their need for steroid medications to treat it (29).
Coenzyme Q10 can cause an upset stomach (30).
CoQ10 can also lower blood sugar levels (31). This means that those with diabetes need to be careful when supplementing with CoQ10 or avoid it altogether.
Combining CoQ10 and statin medications should be avoided. Most commonly taken are the statin drugs (32). CoQ10 levels are seen to decrease with age as well (12).
Unfortunately, older adults who are on statin drugs may be lowering their levels of CoQ10 when they need CoQ10 the most. Especially because ongoing research connects CoQ10 to age-related vision problems, dementia, heart disease and more (33).
CoQ10 supplements can cause problems with some medications. CoQ10 is seen to have interactions with beta-blockers, some antidepressants, and chemotherapy drugs (34, 35, 36).
Additionally, CoQ10 is depleted by statin drugs due to the interference between the two; there’s evidence to show that supplementing with CoQ10 on statins can lead to side effects as well (37).
CoQ10 was once thought to improve blood pressure. A recent review provides evidence that CoQ10 does not decrease blood pressure significantly compared to taking a placebo (38).
Taking 100mg a day or more may cause mild insomnia for certain people.
It may not provide any benefits for younger healthy people. As we naturally age, our body produces less and less CoQ10. As such, it’s important for people 50 and over to supplement with it. Anyone younger may not see any additional benefits.
CoQ10 relies on food for absorption, so it is best to take with food (41). While 200mg is a safe dose, there is no need to take higher doses as 90mg is proven to be the minimal effective dose for CoQ10.
Overall, the research shows that there isn’t a significant therapeutic effect of CoQ10 supplementation. This means that if you’re taking CoQ10 as a preventative measure to improve your health, it is not worth it.
CoQ10 is seen to be most useful for those with damage to their cardiac tissue as well as those patients taking statin drugs on a regular basis (42).
CoQ10 supplements come in two forms. The oxidized form is called ubiquinone while the reduced form is called ubiquinol.
Both forms are seen to work equally well for increasing levels of CoQ10 in the body (43). Looking at your total CoQ10 refers to the sum of both forms because CoQ10 is seen to change from reduced to oxidized as it functions throughout the body (44).
CoQ10 is abundant and better absorbed in certain natural foods (45). Since its fat soluble, it is best ingested with healthy dietary fat. The best sources are certain types of fish, including herring and rainbow trout, grass-fed beef and cage-free eggs.
For vegetarians, the best sources are pistachios, oranges, broccoli, sesame seeds, strawberries, and cauliflower. Beans have also shown to have a good amount of CoQ10.
Q: Can you take CoQ10 at night?
A: Taking CoQ10 at night may help with the body’s ability to use it. However, since it can provide energy, it may also increase the likelihood of insomnia.
Q: Are there symptoms of low Coq10?
A: There are no direct symptoms of CoQ10 however if you routinely experience muscle weakness, fatigue, high blood pressure, and slowed thinking it may indicate a CoQ10 issue.
Q: What foods are rich in CoQ10?
A: The best foods include organ meats, fatty fish, legumes, oranges, pistachios and cruciferous vegetables.
Q: Can you take CoQ10 on an empty stomach?
A: Ubiquinone is a crystalline powder that is insoluble in water and is difficult to absorb when taken on an empty stomach. However, when ubiquinone is taken with food (especially oils), it’s absorbed at least twice as fast as when it’s taken on an empty stomach
Q: Is CoQ10 good for energy?
A: Yes, CoQ10 sparks energy production in every cell of your body including the heart.
Q: Is Coq10 good for joints?
A: Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, CoQ10 is now believed to a play a positive role in improving joint pain and reducing arthritis inflammation.
Q: Is ubiquinol the same as Coq10?
A: Yes and no. In the body, CoQ10 exists either in its oxidized form, ubiquinone, or in its reduced form, ubiquinol. When oxidized CoQ10 (ubiquinone) is used by the body, it transforms and becomes ubiquinol.
Q: Should young people take CoQ10?
A: There may be no benefit for young people as they already have normal levels of CoQ10 levels present in their symptoms. They are also not at risk for the age-related issues in which CoQ10 is notoriously known for protecting against.
Q: Does CoQ10 thin the blood?
A: No, CoQ10 does not act as a blood thinner. However, there have been reports that CoQ10 may make medications such as warfarin (Coumadin) or clopidigrel (Plavix) less effective at thinning the blood.
CoQ10 is a powerful vitamin-like substance that improves heart health, energy production and protects against oxidative damage over time. However, there are still some side effects, and even certain hidden benefits of CoQ10 that are not well understood.
If you’re taking statins and have unpleasant side effects, OR recently suffered from heart failure CoQ10 seems like a safe and effective fit for you.
However, if you’re generally in good health and looking for optimal health, CoQ10 may not be much help to you.