In this article, we discuss the health benefits and risks of taking coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) supplements.
What to know about CoQ10
CoQ10 is a naturally produced chemical that is available as a supplement.
CoQ10 is an antioxidant that the body produces naturally and stores in components of the cell called mitochondria. It has associations with energy, protecting cells, and providing heart benefits.
CoQ10 plays a few critical roles in the body. For example, the body’s cells need this compound to produce the energy that allows them to function.
As an antioxidant, CoQ10 also protects the cells in the body by neutralizing free radicals, which reduces oxidative stress in the body. Oxidative stress can cause tissue damage, inflammation, and cellular apoptosis, or cell death. There are links between oxidative stress and a range of disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
Naturally occurring levels of CoQ10 decrease with age. Scientists have identified associations between CoQ10 deficiency and heart disease and cancer.
There is currently not enough evidence to support using CoQ10 to either prevent or treat cancer or Parkinson’s disease. However, it might help treat certain heart conditions and prevent migraines.
Researchers have also looked at the effects of CoQ10 on a variety of other conditions, but the results are inconclusive. These conditions include ALS, Down syndrome, Huntington’s disease, and male infertility.
Health benefits of CoQ10
CoQ10 has many varied uses. We discuss its possible benefits below.
Improving heart health
CoQ10 might help treat specific heart conditions, such as congestive heart failure and high blood pressure, particularly among older individuals.
Research on the effectiveness of CoQ10 for heart problems has provided mixed results. However, one study reported that CoQ10 was an important factor in the survival of older adults with chronic heart failure.
Other research showed that CoQ10 might help people recover from some types of heart surgery.
According to both the American Academy of Neurology and the American Headache Society, CoQ10 may be effective in preventing migraines, although the research to support this is still limited. It is possible that CoQ10 has this effect because it keeps the mitochondria in the cells healthy.
Easing statin side effects
Some research suggests that CoQ10 might help ease muscle weakness that is due to taking cholesterol-lowering medications, known as statins.
However, the results of another trial showed that treatment with CoQ10 did not reduce muscle pain in people who were also using statins to control their cholesterol levels.
Sources and dosages
People can obtain CoQ10 by eating certain meats and grain proteins, but the quantity present in these foods is too small to increase CoQ10 levels in the body significantly.
Foods that contain CoQ10 include:
- organ meats, such as kidney and liver
- fatty fish, such as sardine and trout
- whole grains
CoQ10 supplements are available to take either by intravenous (IV) injection or as capsules or tablets.
Studies have used daily doses of CoQ10 ranging from 50 milligrams (mg) to 1,200 mg in adults. A typical daily dose for someone who has a CoQ10 deficiency is 100–200 mg, while the observed safe level is 1,200 mg per day.
People should talk to their doctor before starting any new supplements or medications.
Side effects and risks
Although generally well-tolerated, CoQ10 supplements may cause insomnia.
CoQ10 supplements appear to be safe and well-tolerated.
Some mild side effects may include:
Taking statins may reduce the amount of CoQ10 in a person’s blood. Studies have shown a significant reduction in plasma CoQ10 concentrations following treatment with statins.
Additionally, CoQ10 may reduce the effectiveness of blood-thinning drugs, such as warfarin, and this may increase the risk of blood clots.
CoQ10 may also interfere with insulin and some chemotherapy medications.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a naturally occurring antioxidant that is present in almost every cell in the human body. Scientists have linked low levels of CoQ10 with various medical conditions, including heart disease and cancer.
People usually tolerate CoQ10 supplementation well, and the supplements produce few, if any, side effects. However, there is limited research to support the health benefits that CoQ10 might offer.
People can buy CoQ10 supplements in drug stores or online.
It is essential to speak with a healthcare professional before taking any new dietary supplements, including CoQ10.