9 Benefits of Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)

9 Benefits of Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)

CoQ10 may help support the skin, brain, and lungs, as well as protect against chronic diseases like cancer or diabetes. More research is needed to understand its benefits, however.

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a compound that helps generate energy in your cells. With age, your body produces less of it, but you can also get it from supplements or food.

Low levels of CoQ10 may be associated with diseases like cancer, diabetes, as well as neurodegenerative disorders. That said, the cause-effect relationship is unclear.

Here’s what you need to know about its 9 potential benefits and safety information.

CoQ10 is naturally found in the body, with the highest levels in the heart, liver, kidney, and pancreas. It helps generate energy in cells by making the antioxidant adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is involved in cell energy transfer, and serves as an antioxidant to protect cells against oxidative stress.

Ubiquinol is the reduced form of CoQ10, while ubiquinone is the oxidized form. The body is able to convert back and forth between these two forms. Both variations exist in the body, but ubiquinol is the form that is found the most in blood circulation.

What does CoQ10 do for the body?

Oxidative stress can interfere with regular cell functioning and may contribute to many health conditions. Therefore, it is not surprising that some chronic diseases have also been associated with low levels of CoQ10.

CoQ10 production decreases as you age. Thus, older people can be deficient in this compound.

Some other possible causes of low CoQ10 levels include:

  • 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

Summary

CoQ10 is a substance found throughout the body that acts as an antioxidant and is involved in energy production. Low levels of CoQ10 may be associated with older age, certain medications, genetic defects, nutritional deficiencies, and specific health conditions.

Some research suggests that CoQ10 could improve treatment outcomes for people with heart failure.

One analysis of seven reviews concluded that CoQ10 could be beneficial for managing heart failure, especially for those unable to tolerate other treatment methods.

Another review of 14 studies found that people with heart failure who took CoQ10 supplements had a decreased risk of dying and a greater improvement in exercise capacity compared to those who took a placebo.

CoQ10 could also assist with restoring optimal levels of energy production, reducing oxidative damage, and improving heart function, all of which can aid the treatment of heart failure.

Summary

CoQ10 may help decrease oxidative stress and enhance heart function, which could be beneficial for improving treatment outcomes in people with heart failure.

Female fertility decreases with age due to a decline in the number and quality of available eggs.

CoQ10 is directly involved in this process. As you age, CoQ10 production slows, making the body less effective at protecting the eggs from oxidative damage.

Supplementing with CoQ10 seems to help and may even reverse this age-related decline in egg quality and quantity.

Similarly, male sperm is susceptible to oxidative damage, which may result in reduced sperm count, poor sperm quality, and infertility.

Several studies have concluded that supplementing with CoQ10 may improve sperm quality, activity, and concentration by increasing antioxidant protection.

Summary

CoQ10 may help prevent oxidative damage, which could help promote both female and male fertility.

Harmful elements like cellular damage or a hormonal imbalance can lead to reduced skin moisture and protection from environmental aggressors, as well as the thinning of the layers of the skin.

According to human and animal studies, applying CoQ10 directly to the skin may help reduce oxidative damage caused by UV rays and help decrease the depth of wrinkles and promoteantioxidant protection.

Summary

When applied topically, CoQ10 may protect against damage to the skin, which may help support healthy skin aging.

Abnormal mitochondrial function can result in low energy in the brain cells and may contribute to migraine.

Since CoQ10 lives mainly in the mitochondria of the cells, it has been shown it may be beneficial for the treatment of migraine.

One review of five studies found that CoQ10 may effectively reduce the duration and frequency of migraine in children and adults.

Another 2017 study showed that CoQ10 might help reduce the frequency of headaches and make them shorter and less severe.

Summary

Research shows that CoQ10 supplementation may be effective at reducing the frequency, duration, and severity of migraine headaches.

Abnormal mitochondrial function can reduce muscle energy, making it hard for muscles to contract efficiently and sustain exercise.

CoQ10 may help exercise performance by decreasing oxidative stress in the cells and improving mitochondrial function.

One study found that CoQ10 supplementation may have helped inhibit oxidative stress and markers of muscle and liver damage in adolescent elite swimmers during their competition phase.

Moreover, supplementing with CoQ10 may help reduce fatigue, which could also potentially improve exercise performance.

Summary

CoQ10 may help improve exercise performance by supporting mitochondrial function, decreasing oxidative stress, and reducing fatigue.

Oxidative stress can induce cell damage. This can result in metabolic diseases like diabetes, as well as insulin resistance.

In a 2018 meta-analysis, CoQ10 has been suggested to improve insulin sensitivity and regulate blood sugar levels.

Another study in people with diabetic neuropathy — a type of nerve damage that can occur in people with diabetes — found that taking 100 mg of CoQ10 daily for 12 weeks may have improved HbA1c levels and insulin resistance.

Not only that, but it also may have reduced markers of oxidative stress and harmful compounds, such as advanced glycation end products, compared to a placebo.

Summary

CoQ10 could help promote blood sugar control and prevent insulin resistance. It may also decrease oxidative stress and certain risk factors for heart disease in people with diabetes.

According to some test-tube studies, CoQ10 could block the growth of cancer cells. Interestingly, people with cancer have been shown to have lower levels of CoQ10.

Some older studies suggest low levels of CoQ10 may be associated with a higher risk of certain types of cancer, including breast and prostate cancer. Newer studies have also suggested this with regard to lung cancer.

That said, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that CoQ10 has not been shown to be of value as a cancer treatment, so more research needs to be conducted before a definitive claim can be made.

Summary

CoQ10 could reduce oxidative stress, which may be involved in cancer development. Though more research is needed, some studies also show that low levels of CoQ10 could be linked to an increased risk of certain types of cancer.

Mitochondrial function tends to decrease with age, which can lead to the death of brain cells and contribute to conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Unfortunately, the brain is very susceptible to oxidative stress due to its high fatty acid content and its high demand for oxygen.

This oxidative stress enhances the production of harmful compounds that could affect memory, cognition, and physical functions.

CoQ10 may reduce these harmful compounds, possibly slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, according to some animal studies in 2019 and 2021.

However, more research on humans is needed.

Summary

CoQ10 can protect against oxidative damage in the brain, which could potentially protect against cognitive decline. However, more studies in humans are needed.

Increased oxidative damage in the lungs and poor antioxidant protection, including low levels of CoQ10, can result in lung diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma.

Furthermore, some older studies have found that people with these conditions tend to have lower levels of CoQ10.

Another study found that supplementing with CoQ10 and creatine — a compound found in muscle cells — may have improved functional performance, perception of shortness of breath, and body composition in people with COPD.

Summary

CoQ10 could reduce oxidative damage in the lungs, which may benefit respiratory conditions like asthma or COPD.

CoQ10 comes in two different forms — ubiquinol and ubiquinone.

Current studies note that either ubiquinol or ubiquinone is acceptable for use as a supplement. No significant difference between the two was found in regards to absorption.

CoQ10 supplements are available in various doses, ranging from 30 to 600 mg.

Doses of 100–400 mg per day have been used in studies related to heart health, while doses ranging from 600–3,000 mg have been used for treating some neurodegenerative disorders.

However, taking 200 mg twice daily with food is considered the average dosage needed to maintain therapeutic blood levels of CoQ10 for most people.

Because CoQ10 is a fat-soluble compound, its absorption is slow and limited. However, taking CoQ10 supplements with food can help your body absorb it better than taking it without food. Also, soft-gel capsules have been confirmed to absorb more efficiently than other forms of CoQ10.

Additionally, some products offer a solubilized form of CoQ10, or a combination of CoQ10 and oils, to improve its absorption.

Summary

CoQ10 is well-tolerated and is not associated with any serious side effects. Doses can range from 100–3,000 mg per day, though it’s best to use only as directed.

While you can easily consume CoQ10 as a supplement, it can also be found in some foods.

The following foods contain CoQ10:

  • Organ meats: heart, liver, and kidney
  • Some muscle meats: pork, beef, and chicken
  • Fatty fish: trout, herring, mackerel, and sardines
  • Legumes: soybeans, lentils, and peanuts
  • Nuts and seeds: sesame seeds and pistachios
  • Oils: soybean and canola oil

In addition to the foods listed above, some types of fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and cereals also contain CoQ10, though in much lower amounts.

Summary

CoQ10 is found in many food sources, including meat, fish, poultry, legumes, nuts, seeds, and oils.

Supplementing with CoQ10 appears to be well tolerated by humans, even when used in doses up to 1,200 mg. However, it’s best to use it only as directed.

You may experience some insomnia or indigestion, and you should not take it if you are also taking blood thinning medications like Warfarin (Jantoven) and certain cancer medications.

Who shouldn’t take CoQ10?

CoQ10 may reduce the effectiveness of warfarin (Jantoven), as well as interact with some blood pressure and cancer medications.

It’s a good idea to speak to your doctor before trying CoQ10 and make sure they are informed about any medications or other supplements you are taking.

CoQ10 is a fat-soluble, vitamin-like compound that seems to have some health benefits.

In particular, research suggests that it may help improve heart health and blood sugar regulation, protect against certain types of cancer, and reduce the frequency of migraine.

It may also reduce oxidative damage that leads to muscle fatigue, skin damage, and brain and lung diseases. However, more research is necessary to determine whether CoQ10 can help in these areas.

CoQ10 can be found as a supplement that seems well tolerated, but you should ask your doctor before trying it. You can also increase your intake through various food sources, including organ and muscle meats, oils, nuts, seeds, and legumes.