CoQ10 for Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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CoQ10, or coenzyme Q10, is a powerful antioxidant that is in most of the tissues in your body. A fair amount of research suggests that people with fibromyalgia (FMS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) have low levels of CoQ10.

The role of coenzymes is to help convert molecules from your food into energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which studies show is also sometimes deficient in FMS and ME/CFS.

Low CoQ10 levels also have been linked to several neurodegenerative disorders, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.

CoQ10 has become a common supplement for FMS and ME/CFS and has received a fair amount of attention from researchers.

What the Research Says About CoQ10 and Fibromyalgia

A sizable and growing body of scientific research confirms that low CoQ10 is a common feature of FMS. Some researchers say it even plays a role in how the condition develops (pathogenesis).

Research on most FMS treatments has mixed results, but initial CoQ10 studies have been promising. It's shown to improve:

  • Hyperalgesia (pain amplification associated with both FMS and ME/CFS)
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Exercise intolerance (a defining symptom of ME/CFS which can also be part of FMS)
  • Quality of life

Much of the research points to improvements in measures of oxidative and nitrosative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction to explain the positive effects.

We still need more and larger studies to know for sure what role CoQ10 plays in these conditions, how safe and effective treatment is, and whether drugs that target CoQ10 levels would be more effective than supplementation.

However, when it comes to a complementary/alternative treatment for FMS and ME/CFS, CoQ10 is far better researched than most. That, paired with how consistent findings are, makes this line of research a promising one.

Dosage

CoQ10 is widely available in supplement form without a prescription.

A typical dosage of CoQ10 is 30 to 90 mg each day, taken in smaller doses two or three times a day. Some doctors recommended as much as 200 mg per day. So far, there's no specific dosage recommendation for FMS or ME/CFS.

CoQ10 is fat-soluble, which means that you'll absorb it better when you take it with a meal containing oil or fat.

CoQ10 works slowly, so you may not see any therapeutic benefit for up to eight weeks.

Before starting any supplement, of course, you should consult your doctor.

Dietary Sources

It's fairly simple to increase the amount of CoQ10 in your diet. It's found in:

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Oily fish such as sardines, mackerel, herring, and trout
  • Organ meats such as liver, kidney, and heart
  • Soybean and canola oil
  • Peanuts
  • Pistachio nuts
  • Sesame seeds
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Oranges
  • Strawberries

Side Effects

Some people do experience negative side effects of CoQ10, but these effects typically are mild and do not require treatment. Always be sure to talk to your doctor before starting any new supplement. Your pharmacist can tell you if a supplement is likely to interact negatively with any of your other supplements or medications.

Is CoQ10 Right for You?

Only you, with guidance from your health-care team, can decide what treatments you should try. Be sure to keep your entire team in the loop as to what you're taking.

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  2. Cordero MD, Alcocer-gómez E, Culic O, et al. NLRP3 inflammasome is activated in fibromyalgia: the effect of coenzyme Q10. Antioxid Redox Signal. 2014;20(8):1169-80. doi:10.1089/ars.2013.5198

  3. Morris G, Anderson G, Berk M, Maes M. Coenzyme Q10 depletion in medical and neuropsychiatric disorders: potential repercussions and therapeutic implications. Mol Neurobiol. 2013;48(3):883-903. doi:10.1007/s12035-013-8477-8

  4. Morris G, Maes M. Mitochondrial dysfunctions in myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome explained by activated immuno-inflammatory, oxidative and nitrosative stress pathways. Metabolic Brain Disease. 2014 Mar;29(1):19-36. doi: 10.1007/s11011-013-9435-x.

  5. Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute. Coenzyme Q10.

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