CoQ10 Benefits, Side Effects and Dosage
Coq10 is a naturally occurring compound in your body and is also one of the most popular supplements around. Although not considered a vitamin, CoQ10 is full of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.*
You may have heard CoQ10 advertised as a heart-healthy supplement, but what is CoQ10? In addition to heart health, CoQ10 has been shown to reduce migraines, improve blood sugar balance, and has the potential to make a big difference in how neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s Disease is treated.
CoQ10 is the only fat-soluble antioxidant your body makes on its own.* This is what makes CoQ10 so unique (and different from vitamins – our bodies don’t make vitamins, we have to get them from our diets and supplements).
Read on to discover what this powerful antioxidant is and how you may benefit from increasing your CoQ10 levels with a high-quality supplement.
What Is CoQ10 and What Is It Good For?
Coenzyme Q-10, CoQ10, or Q10 for short, is found in nearly every living thing and cell. * CoQ10 is considered a quinone which is the name used for a group of organic compounds. Your body naturally makes CoQ10 and uses it to help make your cells work better by giving them energy.
Originally discovered in 1957, CoQ10 has three forms – a reduced ubiquinol form, a semiquinone intermediate form, and a fully oxidized ubiquinone form.* CoQ10 becomes each of these three forms depending on how big or small it is broken down by your body to use.
CoQ10 is especially helpful to cells and organs that use a lot of energy to function. These organs have high metabolisms like your heart, liver, brain, and kidneys. The highest levels of CoQ10 are found in these organs and benefit greatly from a stable supply of CoQ10.*
When you think about energy on a cellular level, it comes from something called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is needed for healthy functioning of most of your organs and tissues.* Just like you need food and water to have energy and function day to day, ATP is the energy source for your cells.
CoQ10 helps move ATP into your cells – this is why CoQ10 is so important to organs that use a lot of energy. *
CoQ10 isn’t only a great cellular energy transporter, but it also helps protect your cells. By being a powerful antioxidant, CoQ10 helps prevent free radicals from forming and helps control reactive oxygen species (ROS). It also reduces the risk of changes (or errors) made to cells, which can happen more often as we age.*
When there are more ROS than antioxidants around, this causes an increase in oxidative stress – which leads to many age-related changes and chronic diseases. * You might think a solution is to avoid ROS, but the issue is ROS are all around us and are simply impossible to avoid completely. Your body also naturally creates ROS when cells use oxygen.*
An example of this is exercising. While it’s healthy and important to maintain your health, working out causes normal stress on your body and creates oxidative stress in the process.
ROS and oxidative stress is kind of like the waste or by-product of oxygen use, like when you inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is considered waste or a byproduct of breathing.*
This happens to your cells too. But instead of carbon dioxide, ROS are created. This usually isn’t a bad thing – your body uses antioxidants and other processes to filter out the ROS and remove them.
But if there are too many ROS or free radicals around due to stress, pollution, exposure to toxins, or diet – this creates a perfect place for chronic illness and disease to thrive.
CoQ10 is so important to reducing oxidative stress, many chronic conditions seem to be connected with low COQ10 levels. *
What Causes CoQ10 to Decrease?
Since your body makes CoQ10, it doesn’t typically depend on outside sources to maintain a healthy level.* However, your body’s ability to make enough CoQ10 naturally decreases as you age.*
Excessive oxidative stress and certain diseases cause CoQ10 to decrease or become depleted. Examples include autosomal recessive mutations and mitochondrial diseases. Medications used to treat high cholesterol like the statin drug class can also decrease CoQ10 levels.*
This is why ensuring you have enough antioxidants around is important to maintaining longevity and health. You can increase your CoQ10 levels with diet and supplement use.
Salmon, tuna, organ meats (like liver), and whole grains all have high levels of CoQ10. * However, it’s difficult to make a noticeable difference in your CoQ10 levels with diet alone.* Adding a high quality CoQ10 supplement can help you increase your levels and provide noticeable benefits.
CoQ10 Supplement Benefits
Studies have explored the benefits of taking a CoQ10 supplement and have found many indications for how increasing CoQ10 levels can improve health. CoQ10 supplements come in many forms including tablets and capsules, wafers, and liquids. CoQ10 can be taken orally, through an intravenous line into your veins, or applied topically with creams or ointments. *
Here are just a few of the many benefits found from using supplemental CoQ10 to increase your overall CoQ10 levels.
Heart Health Benefits of CoQ10
CoQ10 is highly concentrated in the heart because your heart uses a lot of energy with every pulse and to maintain proper blood pressure. This high concentration has led researchers to spend a lot of time looking at how CoQ10 supplementation can improve heart related conditions.
Proven heart benefits from supplemental CoQ10 include improving overall heart health and reducing inflammation (which can contribute greatly to heart problems and conditions). * There is also evidence that CoQ10 helps reduce cholesterol and can help keep your arteries healthy.*
A study involving patients with congestive heart failure had patients take CoQ10 daily for one year. The dose was based on their weight, meaning a heavier person took a larger dose than someone smaller than them.
The results of the study found patients who took the CoQ10 supplementation were taken to the hospital for heart related problems far less than patients who did not take the supplement. Researchers concluded CoQ10 supplements can help reduce serious complications related to heart failure. *
Another study with congestive heart failure patients found long-term CoQ10 supplementation (at least two years) improved symptoms of heart failure and reduced major complications. Patients took 100mg of CoQ10 three times a day. It was also found to be safe with few side effects.*
Although more studies are needed to confirm, CoQ10 supplementation seems to help reduce blood pressure without major side effects. *
These studies all highlight how CoQ10 supplementation may improve overall heart health.
Blood Sugar Benefits of CoQ10
Oxidative stress and its consequences are known to contribute to issues with blood sugar and insulin regulation. Oftentimes when someone has type II diabetes, they also have low CoQ10 levels. Although it is not totally understood yet, supplementing with CoQ10 may help restore blood sugar control, or glycemic control.*
Researchers explored the impact of CoQ10 on several markers of chronic disease including blood sugar levels, lipid profiles (cholesterol), inflammation, and oxidative stress. A trial lasting eight weeks found taking 100mg of CoQ10 supplement helped regulate blood sugar markers and improve antioxidant capacity. *
Oxidative Stress and CoQ10
By increasing your CoQ10 levels with a supplement, you’re increasing the antioxidant levels in your body and helping keep free radical damage under control. * CoQ10 can also reduce inflammation caused by oxidative stress and improve physical performance. *
A study involving patients undergoing dialysis for kidney disease looked at how well CoQ10 supplementation can decrease oxidative stress. This was to explore any benefit to the kidneys by increasing CoQ10 levels.
The study found CoQ10 supplementation to be safe and effective in reducing oxidative stress markers after four months of therapy. Participants received either 600mg or 1,200mg of CoQ10 per day – with the higher dose showing better results. *
CoQ10 for Migraines
Migraines are caused by many things and disrupt the lives of millions. One popular theory of what causes migraines is a lack of cellular energy to the brain. A small study of 42 patients who suffer from migraines took Coq10 for three months and found CoQ10 significantly reduced migraine episodes.*
CoQ10 and Statins
The drug class statins, which are used to reduce high cholesterol, are known to cause muscle pain. This pain can be so severe, patients have to stop taking the medication and try something else.
Statin drugs are also known to reduce CoQ10 which has led to studies to see if CoQ10 supplementation can reduce statin related muscle pain.*
Initially, studies showed mixed results, but a larger examination of these studies found CoQ10 supplements to drastically reduce muscle pain caused by statin therapy.* Not only did muscle pain decrease, but muscle weakness, muscle cramping, and muscle weakness were all improved.*
CoQ10 has become well known as a remedy for this severe muscle pain related to statins which has led many healthcare providers to recommend CoQ10 when initially prescribing statin therapy for high cholesterol.*
Topical Applications of CoQ10
Oxidative stress is one of the main causes for age-related skin changes. Wrinkles, fine lines, discoloration, and loss of fullness can all be caused or made worse by oxidative stress. Regulating free radicals and oxidative stress with topical antioxidants has been widely studied, including studying the effects of topical CoQ10.
A study found topical CoQ10 treatments reduced free radicals and increased antioxidants after as little as two weeks time. * Ubiquinol levels, which is what CoQ10 is broken down into once your body absorbs it, was found to be increased in both the superficial layers and deeper layers of the skin.
CoQ10 and Neurodegenerative Disorders
Although more studies are needed, there is growing hope that CoQ10 supplements can help reduce the risk of developing or even treat neurodegenerative diseases.* These diseases impact the brain and nervous system – examples being Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease. Your brain uses more energy than any other organ so it would make sense that CoQ10 could play a role and keep your brain healthy.
Studies done with mice related to neurodegenerative disease show promise for reducing oxidative stress and damage with CoQ10 supplementation.* Another small study of 80 participants explored the benefits of takgin 1,200mg CoQ10 daily.
Researchers found those who took the supplement had a 44% reduction in functional decline such as activities of daily living.*
If you’re now wondering “how much CoQ10 should I take?” the answer isn’t very clear. As you can see from the studies mentioned above, the doses vary quite a bit. The most popular CoQ10 supplements range from 30mg up to 200mg.*
CoQ10 research focused on heart health tends to use CoQ10 dosages ranging from 100-400 mg per day. Studies exploring benefits for neurodegenerative diseases tend to use much higher dosages, typically ranging from 600-3,000 per day. *
Many of these trials also divided CoQ10 doses into two or three to take throughout the day.
There is no definitive high or low dose of CoQ10, but some studies have shown in order to make a measurable difference in blood levels of CoQ10, you need to take at least 200mg twice a day with your meals.* Since studies have used different dosages of CoQ10, it’s difficult to know for sure what the best dose for you will be.
Another factor to consider is CoQ10 can be relatively difficult to absorb orally. This has led supplemental companies to add additional elements to their product in an attempt to increase absorption. This means the same dose of CoQ10 from two different companies using different additives may result in a different amount absorbed and used by your body.*
Best to Take CoQ10 in the Morning or Night?
Although CoQ10 supplementation is felt to be relatively safe, a common side effect is mild insomnia. This seems to occur when someone takes 100mg (or higher) each day. Because of this it may be better to take CoQ10 in the morning.*
Another factor is many CoQ10 supplements are best absorbed with a fatty meal. This makes taking your supplement with a breakfast with some healthy fats ideal.* Taking a CoQ10 supplement with food may reduce any stomach upset caused by the supplement as well.
What Is the Difference Between CoQ10 and Ubiquinol?
Two of the forms of CoQ10 are ubiquinone and ubiquinol. Most supplements tend to be made with one of these two properties of CoQ10.
They are both CoQ10, the difference has to do with what form of CoQ10 it is in. When your body breaks down CoQ10 it first is ubiquinone and then broken down into the reduced form of ubiquinol.*
If you take a CoQ10 supplement, your body turns it into ubiquinol and taken to your liver to be used and distributed throughout your body.* When ubiquinone is broken down into ubiquinol, this is where the antioxidant benefits are found.*
Although ubiquinone breaks down into ubiquinol, they are absorbed differently when taken on their own. Ubiquinone is larger and fat-soluble. This means it’s tougher for your body to absorb. Eating a fatty meal with ubiquinone will help with absorption, but it still isn’t as easily absorbed compared to water soluble substances.*
Ubiquinol is water-soluble, making it much easier to absorb and put to good use.* Studies have shown that ubiquinol works better to increase CoQ10 levels than ubiquinone due to this increased absorption. *
Side Effects of CoQ10
When considering a new supplement, it’s important to look for any side effects. While CoQ10 supplements are overall safe with few side effects, there are some mild symptoms that can occur when you start a CoQ10 supplement.*
CoQ10 side effects can include mild stomach upset (decrease appetite, nausea, or diarrhea) as well as headaches or dizziness.* Some people experience fatigue while others may have trouble sleeping (insomnia) when they take CoQ10.*
As far as drug interactions, CoQ10 can potentially make medications that prevent blood clots, like blood thinners, less effective. And while CoQ10 can help with many heart-related concerns that often cause the need for blood thinners (like warfarin), it’s important to consider the risks and benefits before starting a CoQ10 supplement*
Like most medications and supplements, there haven’t been many studies with pregnant or breastfeeding women to determine how safe they are. Because of this, starting a CoQ10 supplement while pregnant is not typically recommended. *
If you’re interested in starting a CoQ10 supplement, it may be helpful to know the signs of low CoQ10. Muscle pain, fatigue, and inflammation are some of the common symptoms of low CoQ10. *
- CoQ10 is an essential compound found in your body that helps transport energy into your cells.
- CoQ10 is also a powerful antioxidant that regulates oxidative stress, reduces inflammation, and protects your body from chronic disease.
- Your CoQ10 level naturally decreases with age and is difficult to supplement with diet alone.
- CoQ10 supplements can improve heart health, reduce inflammation, improve insulin and blood sugar balance, and improve overall longevity
- Dosages for CoQ10 vary across studies, ranging from 30-200mg a day.
- CoQ10 is very well tolerated, mild side effects include insomnia and stomach upset.