What Is CoQ10?

This antioxidant may help manage certain diseases.

CoQ10 capsules and liquid

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak 

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10 or ubiquinol) is an antioxidant. That means it may prevent cellular damage associated with aging and some diseases. It's also involved in energy production.

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

CoQ10 levels also tend to 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.

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

Supplement Facts

Active Ingredients: Coenzyme Q10

Alternative Names: Ubiquinone

Legal Status: Dietary supplement

Suggested Dose: 30 to 100 milligrams (mg)

Safety Considerations: Minor digestive symptoms, insomnia, and heartburn

Uses of CoQ10 

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

Supplements typically aren't as well researched as prescription drugs. However, the body of evidence supporting some uses of CoQ10 is growing.

Owing to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, CoQ10 has been studied for:

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

Heart Health

Coenzyme Q10 has been studied for its in addition to standard therapies in certain heart diseases, 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.

To this point, a review of seven meta-analyses involving 4,688 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.

Research from a meta-analysis involving 684 people with diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol demonstrated that CoQ10 supplementation for four to 24 weeks significantly reduced systolic blood pressure (the top number) by 10 to 21 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) but not diastolic blood pressure.

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

Neurodegenerative Disease

Although the primary causes of neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease remain largely unknown, oxidative stress is thought to be one contributing factor.

By reducing oxidative stress, CoQ10 supplementation has been suggested to reduce the progression of these diseases. However, only a few clinical trials have tested CoQ10 for Parkinson's or Alzheimer's. Still, the results have been conflicting and largely disappointing, primarily because it's unknown whether CoQ10 can cross the blood-brain barrier in humans to exert its effects.

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.

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

A review of 13 studies involving 765 people with type 2 diabetes found that CoQ10 supplementation significantly improved blood sugar control while decreasing triglycerides and improving HDL "good" cholesterol. However, these findings should be treated with caution due to the small number of people in the studies.

In general, there is 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 six studies involving 371 people with migraines found that CoQ10 supplementation for at least six weeks significantly reduced the frequency and duration in which they experienced migraines. However, the review found no significant reduction in 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.

While early clinical studies have produced unclear results regarding the efficacy of CoQ10 supplements for alleviating statin-induced muscle pain, a 2018 review of 12 studies involving 575 people found that CoQ10 supplementation significantly reduced statin-induced muscle pain, weakness, cramps, and tiredness, independent of supplement dose or duration.

What Are the Side Effects of CoQ10?

CoQ10 supplementation is considered safe and well-tolerated.

However, supplementation has been associated with digestive symptoms, mainly abdominal pain or an upset stomach. These symptoms tend to occur in doses beyond 1,200 milligrams (mg) per day.

Other side effects reported include:

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

How Much CoQ10 Should I Take?

CoQ10 supplements are sold in several forms, including:

  • Capsule
  • Soft gel
  • Liquid
  • Gummies

There's no standard recommended dose for CoQ10. In healthy adults, the typical dose ranges between 30 milligrams and 100 milligrams per day. Consult with your healthcare provider on an appropriate dose for you.

Dosages used in studies have been:

  • Migraines: 30 to 800 milligrams daily for eight to 12 weeks
  • Statin muscle pain: 50 milligrams twice daily for four to 12 weeks
  • High blood pressure: 100 to 150 milligrams daily for four to 24 weeks
  • Diabetes: 100 to 200 milligrams daily for eight to 24 weeks

Interactions

CoQ10 may interact with some medications. These include blood-thinning medications like warfarin and blood pressure medications. It may also not be compatible with certain cancer medications.

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

Coenzyme Q10 soft gels
Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak 

How to Store CoQ10

You should 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. However, CoQ10 supplements don't expire in the traditional sense, but they may lose potency if consumed past the expiration date.

What Happens If I Take Too Much CoQ10?

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

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

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.

Sources of CoQ10 and What to Look For 

The richest dietary sources of CoQ10 include meat, fish, nuts, and some oils. The average daily intake of CoQ10 is around 5.4 milligrams for men and 3.8 milligrams for women.

The body also produces CoQ10, but far less than what studies have demonstrated as beneficial. This makes supplementation a good option for increasing CoQ10 levels. However, 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.

Summary

Evidence suggests coenzyme Q10 may help with certain health conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and migraines. However, remember that supplements are not to be used to treat or prevent any disease. Make sure you are regularly seeing your healthcare provider for guidance on how to manage 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 and 800 milligrams daily. Importantly, 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. 

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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