CoQ10 Benefits, Side Effects, and Sources

How the antioxidant coenzyme Q10 helps you manage diseases

CoQ10 capsules and liquid

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak 

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10 or ubiquinol) is an antioxidant and may prevent cellular damage linked with aging and some diseases.

In this article, you'll learn about possible CoQ10 benefits and side effects, dosages, and what to look for when buying supplements.

Supplement Facts

Active Ingredients: Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)

Alternative Names: Ubiquinone

Legal Status: Dietary supplement

Suggested Dose: 30 milligrams (mg) to 100 mg

Safety Considerations: Minor digestive symptoms, insomnia, and heartburn

Sources of CoQ10

CoQ10 is found naturally in your body, in some foods, and as a supplement.

In Your Body

The body produces CoQ10, but far less than what studies have demonstrated as beneficial.

Your body naturally produces CoQ10. However, CoQ10 levels decline with aging, decreasing the body's ability to manage inflammation and oxidative stress effectively.

Oxidative stress occurs when free radicals (unstable molecules) start to damage cells and tissues in the body. Antioxidants counter the effects of free radicals.

Low CoQ10 levels in the body have been associated with several diseases, including:

However, this does not mean that CoQ10 supplements can treat or prevent any of these conditions.

Food

The richest food sources of CoQ10 include:

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Nuts
  • Some oils

The average daily intake of CoQ10 is 5.4 mg for men and 3.8 mg for women.

Supplements

CoQ10 supplements are sold in several forms, including:

  • Capsule
  • Soft gel
  • Liquid
  • Gummies

CoQ10 Benefits 

Because of the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of CoQ10, it has been studied for its benefits on:

  • Heart health
  • Blood pressure
  • Degenerative brain disorders
  • Diabetes and diabetic neuropathy
  • Migraines
  • Side effects of statin drugs

Supplement use should be individualized and vetted by a healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian, pharmacist, or healthcare provider. No supplement is intended to treat, cure, or prevent diseases.

Supplements typically aren't as well researched as prescription drugs.

Heart Health

CoQ10 has been studied for its benefit to certain heart conditions (in addition to standard therapies), including:

CoQ10 may be good for cardiac cells. These cells have high energy requirements and are affected by low levels of CoQ10.

CoQ10 may also support heart health by reducing oxidative stress.

A review of people with heart failure found that CoQ10 supplementation led to improvements in heart function, fewer hospitalizations, and a reduced risk of death.

Blood Pressure

CoQ10 may promote the widening of the blood vessels by increasing nitric oxide availability.

A meta-analysis of people with diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol showed that CoQ10 supplementation for 4 weeks to 24 weeks reduced systolic blood pressure by 10 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) to 21 mmHg, but not diastolic blood pressure.

Additional studies are needed to determine the relationship between CoQ10 and blood pressure.

Neurodegenerative Disease

The cause of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease is unknown, but oxidative stress may be a contributing factor. By reducing oxidative stress, CoQ10 supplementation has been suggested to reduce the progression of these diseases.

Only a few clinical trials have tested CoQ10 for Parkinson's or Alzheimer's and the results have been conflicting and mostly disappointing. It's unknown if CoQ10 can cross the blood-brain barrier in humans to apply its effects.

Diabetes

CoQ10 is an antioxidant that reduces oxidative stress, so supplementation may help reduce insulin resistance in people with diabetes.

Persistent high blood sugars cause oxidative stress and lead to insulin resistance. Insulin is the hormone that lowers blood sugar. With insulin resistance, your body doesn't use it efficiently, resulting in high blood sugar. Insulin resistance is a key component of type 2 diabetes.

A review found that CoQ10 supplementation improved blood sugar control and HDL cholesterol, and decreased triglycerides in people with type 2 diabetes. However, only a small number of people were studied, so treat these findings with caution.

There's not enough evidence for healthcare providers to recommend CoQ10 supplementation for diabetes.

If you have diabetes and want to try CoQ10, talk to your healthcare provider first. You may need to monitor your blood sugar extra closely. Be prepared to adjust diabetes medications so you don't end up with hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

Migraines

A migraine is a recurring type of headache that causes severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation. Low levels of CoQ10 have been reported in people who experience migraines.

A review of people with migraines found that CoQ10 supplementation for at least six weeks reduced the frequency and duration of migraines. But it didn't reduce migraine pain.

Statin Side Effects

Statins are drugs that help lower cholesterol. They can cause muscle pain and weakness as a side effect. Some research suggests that CoQ10 may reduce these side effects.

A 2018 review found that CoQ10 supplementation reduced statin-induced muscle pain, weakness, cramps, and tiredness.

CoQ10 Side Effects

CoQ10 supplementation is considered safe and well-tolerated, but side effects may include abdominal pain or an upset stomach.

These symptoms can occur in doses greater than 1,200 milligrams (mg) per day.

Other reported CoQ10 side effects include:

  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea
  • Insomnia
Side effects of coenzyme Q10
 Verywell / Gary Ferster

Interactions with Medications


CoQ10 may interact with some medications, including:

  • Blood thinners (warfarin)
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Certain cancer medications

Ask your healthcare provider before taking CoQ10. Be sure to tell them about all the medications and supplements you take.

How Much CoQ10 Should I Take?

There's no standard recommended dose for CoQ10.

In healthy adults, the typical dose ranges between 30 mg and 100 mg per day. Consult with your healthcare provider on an appropriate dose for you.

CoQ10 dosages used in studies include:

  • Migraines: 30 mg to 800 mg daily for 8 weeks to 12 weeks
  • Statin muscle pain: 50 mg twice daily for 4 weeks to 12 weeks
  • High blood pressure: 100 mg to 150 mg daily for 4 weeks to 24 weeks
  • Diabetes: 100 mg to 200 mg daily for 8 weeks to 24 weeks
Coenzyme Q10 soft gels
Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak 

What Happens If I Take Too Much CoQ10?

CoQ10 is generally safe and well-tolerated, but avoid consuming more than 1,200 mg of CoQ10 per day.

Fortunately, this amount is much higher than commonly used doses.

What to Look For

Supplements aren't regulated like medications. It's important to make sure you're buying a quality product.

Look for products that have been certified by:

  • ConsumerLab
  • U.S. Pharmacopeia
  • NSF International

These independent organizations test the quality and ingredients of dietary supplements.

Some CoQ10 supplements are formulated to absorb into your system better than others. This has the same effect as taking a larger dose. For example, some CoQ10 supplements are formulated to be more water- and fat-soluble for enhanced absorption.

If you have questions, talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist.

How to Store CoQ10

Store CoQ10 soft gels or capsules in a cool, dry place. Store liquid forms according to the directions on the product.

Some CoQ10 supplements, especially liquid forms, include an expiration date. CoQ10 supplements may lose potency if consumed past the expiration date.

Summary

Coenzyme Q10 may help with certain health conditions, like high blood pressure, diabetes, and migraines. However, supplements shouldn't be used to treat or prevent any diseases. Regularly see your healthcare provider for guidance on managing your condition.

CoQ10 may cause mild side effects and interact negatively with certain medications.

There's no official recommended dosage. In studies, doses have been between 50 mg and 800 mg daily. Talk to your healthcare provider if you're considering using CoQ10 supplements to determine what an appropriate dose may be for you.

When buying supplements, look for products that have been independently tested for quality. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can CoQ10 supplements fight aging?

    Possibly. Many anti-aging creams and serums tout CoQ10 to help improve fine lines and wrinkles. Some evidence suggests topical CoQ10 may help fight the visible signs of aging. This may be because it's an antioxidant and reduces free radicals.

  • Will taking CoQ10 supplements increase fertility?

    This isn't yet established. Some evidence suggests CoQ10 may increase sperm motility and improve the quality of eggs. But research so far is insufficient to suggest CoQ10 as a fertility aid.

  • Does CoQ10 improve athletic performance?

    A handful of small studies suggest it might delay fatigue and improve exercise recovery. However, more research is needed.

Originally written by
Cathy Wong
Cathy Wong

Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman's World, and Natural Health.

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