Coenzyme Q10, also known as CoQ10, is a type of coenzyme and natural antioxidant found in every cell in the human body. Coenzymes aid enzymes with several different bodily processes, from food digestion to muscle repair and more. Antioxidants protect the cells in your body from damage caused by harmful molecules. Specifically, CoQ10 plays a major role in cell energy production and helps oxygen get where it needs to go in your system. With multiple benefits and uses, CoQ10 is produced by the human body, but only in certain quantities. As we age, production of CoQ10 decreases, often resulting in hypertension (elevated or high blood pressure).
CoQ10 has been shown to help treat heart failure, aid in fertility, slow skin aging, reduce headaches, improve exercise performance, treat diabetes, prevent cancer, improve brain health, provide lung protection, and much more. Find out if it is the right supplement for you.
Benefits of CoQ10 Supplementation
Human cells need CoQ10 to function properly. CoQ10 plays a role in cell growth, maintenance, and protection, but most importantly in cell energy production. There are over 500 published articles on the association between decreased CoQ10 levels and a variety of health conditions. Simply put: if cells lack energy, the human body may have trouble staying healthy and fighting certain conditions. When CoQ10 levels decrease, either as a result of age or medication interactions, a number of side effects may occur.
Supplementation with CoQ10 may result in the following benefits:
- Decreased blood pressure
- Increased immune system support
- Less muscle and joint pain
- Increased energy levels
- Lowered cholesterol
- Improved heart health
Sources of CoQ10
As mentioned earlier, CoQ10 is made in small quantities by the human body. Supplementation with CoQ10 can be beneficial and is often necessary given certain conditions and/or advanced age.
CoQ10 can be found in the following foods, in small amounts:
- Fish, particularly sardines and mackerel
- Meats – especially beef and organ meats
- Spinach, broccoli, and other leafy vegetables
- Soy oil
CoQ10 supplements can be found in most drug stores and pharmacies, but the quality of OTC supplements is not regulated or guaranteed.
Do I Need A CoQ10 Supplement?
CoQ10 supplementation is generally regarded as safe for healthy individuals, and may provide increased energy levels and decreased recovery time after exercise. However, if you have or are at risk for any of the following conditions, CoQ10 supplementation may be especially beneficial.
The below health conditions have been known to cause decreased or low CoQ10 levels:
- Prader-Willi Syndrome
- Male Infertility
- Several studies have concluded that CoQ10 may improve sperm quality, activity, and concentration by increasing antioxidant protection in males with fertility issues.
- Migraine disorders
- Abnormal mitochondrial function can lead to an increased calcium uptake by cells, the excessive production of free radicals, and decreased antioxidant protection, which can result in low energy in the brain cells and even migraines.
- Because CoQ10 resides in the mitochondria of the cells, it has been shown to improve mitochondrial function and help decrease the inflammation that may occur during migraines, and it further seems that it may not only treat migraines but also prevent them.
- Peyronie’s Disease
- Nutritional deficiencies, such as vitamin B6 deficiency
- Genetic defects in CoQ10 synthesis or utilization
- Increased demands by tissues as a consequence of disease
- Mitochondrial diseases
- Oxidative stress due to aging
- Side effects of statin treatments
The FDA does not officially recognize CoQ10 deficiency as causal to any of the below conditions but there has been evidence of a link between them:
- Oxidative stress can induce cell damage, which can result in metabolic diseases like diabetes. CoQ10 has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and help regulate blood sugar levels.
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Heart disease/failure
- Treatment with CoQ10 has shown to assist with restoring optimal levels of energy production, reduce oxidative damage, and improve heart function, all of which can aid the treatment of heart failure.
Several preliminary clinical trials show that taking CoQ10 orally, alone or along with other antihypertensive medications significantly lowers blood pressure. In some cases, CoQ10 might support dosage reduction or discontinuation of conventional therapy. For people with heart failure, taking CoQ10 alongside traditional treatment appears to be associated with increased heart function, improved quality of life, and decreased hospitalization rates. Additionally, several prescription medications are known to decrease or deplete CoQ10 levels. The most common of which are statins (cholesterol-lowering medications). Taking CoQ10 may reduce the effects of statin medications, so it is important to find the right combination.
How Much CoQ10 Do I Need?
There is no official RDA (recommended daily amount) for CoQ10 supplementation. A starting dosage of 100mg daily is sufficient for most individuals. The best way to know exactly which supplements your body needs is by taking the Vitality DNA test.
Therapeutic dosages of CoQ10 are often recommended in the following amounts:
- If you have a known CoQ10 deficiency, your doctor may recommend starting at a dosage of 150 mg daily.
- As a migraine preventative, 300 mg of CoQ10 divided into 3 separate doses may be effective.
- For heart failure, it may be recommended that you take 200mg daily divided into 2 doses.
- If you have HIV/AIDS, it may be recommended that you take 200mg of CoQ10 daily.
- For pre-eclampsia, it may be recommended that you take two-100mg doses after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
What are the side effects of CoQ10?
CoQ10 supplementation is associated with increased energy levels. As with other supplements that boost energy levels, CoQ10 users have reported side effects such as slight stomach upset, headaches, feeling jittery or “wired,” and experiencing mild insomnia. Other side effects reported less often include palpitations, anxiety, dizziness, irritability, and rarely, rashes. Increased liver enzymes have been noted with long-term supplementation of 300mg or more of CoQ10 daily, but is not associated with liver toxicity.
Studies have shown that CoQ10 can be safely used up to 30 months. Among the most common side effects of CoQ10 are insomnia, increased liver enzymes, dizziness, headaches, and heartburn. If you are taking warfarin (an anticoagulant), it is not recommended that you take CoQ10, as CoQ10 may make warfarin less effective. CoQ10 should not be used by pregnant or lactating women.
Are There Any Medications or Supplements I Shouldn’t Take With CoQ10?
In general, be aware of taking CoQ10 in with any medications, herbs, or supplements that have hypotensive effects and/or specifically treat hypertensive disorder (high blood pressure). CoQ10 can decrease blood pressure in some individuals, so combining it with other hypotensive medications or supplements may increase the risk of adverse effects. While CoQ10 is regarded as safe to use for up to 30 months at a time without side effects, you should be aware of the potential for information with the following medications and supplements:
- Warfarin, or other anticoagulants
CoQ10 may cause decreased effectiveness of the above medications.
- Acacia gum may increase the absorption of CoQ10, which may increase the risk of side effects
- CoQ10 may increase beta-carotene levels, which could increase the possibility of beta-carotene side effects such as skin discoloration
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- Omega-3’s are known to decrease CoQ10 levels in the bloodstream
- Red Yeast
- This supplement has effects similar to statin medications and may decrease your CoQ10 levels.
- Vitamin A
- CoQ10 may increase vitamin A levels, which may increase the likelihood of vitamin A side effects, such as fatigue or irritability.
- Vitamin C
- CoQ10 may increase serum levels of vitamin C, and therefore may increase the risks of side effects associated with vitamin C, such as upset stomach or headaches.
- Vitamin K
- Taking CoQ10 with vitamin K may increase the risk of blood clots in individuals on anticoagulant medications.
- Vitamin E
- CoQ10 may increase vitamin E levels, which may increase the likelihood of side effects associated with vitamin E, such as a headache or dizziness.
Should you be supplementing with CoQ10?
There have been over 500 articles published on the association between CoQ10 supplementation and its potential health benefits. In general, CoQ10 supplementation is considered beneficial for up to 30 months at a time, usually to help increase energy levels. There are a few groups of people that will almost certainly benefit from CoQ10 supplementation: individuals over the age of 50, those with hypertensive disorders or heart disease, and individuals with conditions that are known to deplete serum CoQ10 levels (listed above).
In summary, CoQ10 is a fat-soluble compound and antioxidant that has shown to have many health benefits, and is involved in the production of cellular energy. It is a helpful compound when it comes to preserving cells and preventing and treating chronic diseases. Along with other uses, CoQ10 has been found to help improve heart health, regulate blood sugar, prevent cancer, and reduce the frequency of headaches and migraines. It also has shown to reduce the oxidative damage that leads to muscle fatigue–explaining its help with athletic ability–and to reduce the damage to skin, the brain, and lungs that come with aging.
CoQ10 is a well tolerated supplement and can be found in various foods like animal organs, vegetables, and legumes. People of all age can benefit from CoQ10, but adults over 50 could especially benefit as CoQ10 production decreases with age.
Whether you decide to up your intake of CoQ10-containing foods or take supplements, CoQ10 could be a great addition to your day-to-day lifestyle.
Want to know whether CoQ10 supplementation is right for you? Vitagene provides actionable intelligence about your ancestry, health traits, and helps you create healthy, lasting change in your life with diet, exercise, and supplement recommendations based on your DNA, lifestyle, family history, and goals.