Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, is an antioxidant made in the body that helps your cells to make energy. Antioxidants, like coenzyme Q10, are substances that can block or delay damage to cells.
In the body, CoQ10 is found primarily in the:
Ubiquinol is the active form of CoQ10 that’s made in the body from ubiquinone. As you age, your body makes less CoQ10.
Coenzyme Q10 is also found in certain foods, including:
— Cold water fish such as salmon and tuna.
— Peanuts and other nuts.
— Sesame seeds.
— Vegetable oils.
The amount of CoQ10 found in foods is less than the amount you can get through a supplement, says Melissa Prest, a registered dietitian in Chicago and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
For this reason, many people interested in CoQ10 will take a supplement. However, there are no formal recommendations on how much CoQ10 you should have each day as there are for certain vitamins or minerals.
Coenzyme Q10 supplements come in tablets, gel caps or in liquid form. It also can be given in IV form, or as an injection through the veins. Like other supplements, CoQ10 supplements are not regulated by the FDA.
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What Is CoQ10 Good for?
There’s a lot of research into the benefits of CoQ10, although many health experts believe that more studies are needed to support specific benefits.
The area with the most CoQ10 research is heart health. Some studies indicate that CoQ10 may be effective for:
— Improving heart function.
— Improving heart failure symptoms.
— Lowering the risk of some complications that occur with heart surgery.
— Boosting exercise tolerance.
One example of CoQ10 heart-related research is a randomized trial with results published in a 2014 issue of JACC: Heart Failure. Researchers included 420 people with moderate to severe heart failure who were randomly assigned to receive 100 mg of CoQ10 three times a day or a placebo, along with their standard therapy, for two years. The study found that use of CoQ10 was safe, improved heart failure symptoms and lowered the number of major cardiovascular events.
However, research focused on the use of CoQ10 to prevent heart disease is inconclusive, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
Researchers also have studied CoQ10 for:
— Decreasing the frequency of migraines.
— Helping to reduce side effects from cancer treatments.
— Improving insulin resistance in people with diabetes.
— Lowering blood pressure.
— Lowering the side effects of statins, a type of medication often used to lower cholesterol.
— Slowing Alzheimer’s disease.
— Improving symptoms with Parkinson’s disease.
The results from these studies are mixed at best, with the Parkinson’s research showing that CoQ10 is not effective for the disease symptoms. More research is needed before CoQ10 can be recommended for slowing down Alzheimer’s disease, Prest explains.
Studies of CoQ10 in patients with cancer have been small. From these studies, it’s not clear if any improvements came from CoQ10 or other treatments used, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Researchers have studied CoQ10 in other health areas, including:
— Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease).
— Down syndrome.
— Huntington’s disease.
— Male fertility.
Still, the research hasn’t been extensive enough to draw any conclusions.
More high-quality randomized clinical trials are needed to pinpoint the effect of CoQ10 on a variety of health conditions and diseases, according to a 2021 review published in the journal Nutrients.
Should You Take CoQ10?
The decision to take CoQ10 is one that you should make with your health care provider or a registered dietitian, says Marissa Meshulam, a registered dietitian nutritionist and founder of MPM Nutrition in New York City. They can review any medications you take to make sure there are no interactions and help explain how CoQ10 could fit into your overall health routine.
There’s no minimum or maximum effective dose for CoQ10, adds registered dietitian nutritionist Rhyan Geiger, owner of Phoenix Vegan Dietitian in Phoenix. The recommended dose may vary depending on your specific health problems, but the most common dose is 100 to 200 mg daily. Again, everyone is different, Geiger says.
You’ll want to be mindful of any other medications you use before trying CoQ10 as it can interact with some medications. These include:
— Blood-thinning medications like warfarin. These medicines are also called anticoagulants. Using CoQ10 could increase your risk for blood clots if you use this type of medicine.
— Medications that lower your blood sugar or blood pressure. Because CoQ10 may lower your blood sugar or blood pressure, proceed with caution if you’re already using medications targeting these health issues, Prest advises. This includes insulin if you have diabetes.
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, there’s not enough safety data to recommend the use of CoQ10 supplements, Prest says.
Although CoQ10 is thought of as generally safe, it can cause side effects in some people. These include:
— Lowered appetite.
If You Plan to Take CoQ10
Here are a few more tips if you’re considering the use of CoQ10.
1. Always aim first for a good diet over supplements, Meshulam says. This includes eating more vegetables, drinking more water and moving more. “You cannot supplement yourself out of a bad diet. Start with basics and then move on to (supplements) if you want some added support,” she says.
2. Look for gel caps. Gel caps may be better absorbed by the body because the gel has fat, and CoQ10 is fat-soluble, Prest says. This means that it dissolves better in fat. If you use the tablet form, do so with a high-fat food or meal.
3. Take any dose of CoQ10 with food for better absorption, Geiger advises.
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