Coenzyme Q10 Benefits for Health

Coenzyme Q10 Benefits for Health

Coenzyme Q10 functions as an antioxidant in the energy-producing parts of your cells. The cells highest in coenzyme Q10 amounts are organs, especially the heart. It also helps make energy units in the body called ATP.

I like to think of coenzyme Q10 as the element your body has plenty of when everything is going just right.  You are young, healthy, your diet is perfect, and you feel vital.  You don’t smoke or drink, you don’t take prescriptions, and you don’t have any diseases.

If all of these conditions are not true, you are likely low in coenzyme Q10. As we age, our body naturally makes less of this important antioxidant as well.

Coenzyme Q10 has a number of names and my favorite of those is ubiquinol.  It is named this because it is ubiquitous or “found everywhere” which accurately describes coenzyme Q10 in the body.

Coenzyme Q10: It’s everywhere in every cell of your body (except red blood cells). This alone should suggest how important it is.

Since it is most often referred to Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, I will refer to it this way for the purposes of this blog. I also like to think of it as tenuous, meaning its status is tenuous in the body unless all things are perfect.

What Does Coenzyme Q10 Do?

Coenzyme Q10 functions as an antioxidant in the energy-producing parts of your cells. The cells highest in coenzyme Q10 amounts are organs, especially the heart. It also helps make energy units in the body called ATP.

Simply put, coQ10 helps the cells of your body make energy and reduces cellular toxins.

If you think about how much energy the heart muscle requires every second of your life, of course it needs a lot of coQ10.

As an antioxidant that assists in the energy-producing parts of the cells, it helps prevent fatigue.

This makes sense based on the function of the mitochondria. It is a factor in energy production.

Without it, your body won’t make enough energy, resulting in fatigue and organ dysfunction.

Low coenzyme Q10 levels also may impair fertility (1).

Coenzyme Q10 Food Sources And Considerations

Coenzyme Q10 is found in highest concentrations in organ meats. It is also present in other meats, while plant sources contain generally less than 1 mg.  A typical diet provides around 3-6 mg per day (1).

However, it is rather impractical to consider food as the only way to get this substance in your life if you have many health conditions.

Best case scenario: 25% of the coenzyme Q10 available in your body comes from your diet.  75% is made within your body. If you are young, that is.

  • It is more important to focus on an overall balanced diet and healthy lifestyle so that you are providing the building blocks in the body necessary to make coQ10.
  • It is also important for some people to supplement.

Our bodies make coenzyme Q10 through a long and complicated process of 17 nutrient-intensive steps.  Nutrients required include tyrosine, vitamin B6,  vitamin C, pantothenic acid (B5), S-adenosyl methionine, and selenium-containing proteins.

Many steps along the production can go amiss.

Coenzyme Q10 Improves Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue

Coenzyme Q10 fuels muscles and tissues with energy.

This is applicable if you consider this; fibromyalgia patients have low levels of coQ10, and what’s more, when given coQ10 supplements, they have improvements in headaches and other fibromyalgia symptoms (1).

Similarly, in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome, coQ10 supplements, along with NADH supplementation improved energy levels (2).

In children with fibromyalgia, supplemental coQ10 improved symptoms of fatigue and also improved cholesterol levels (25).

In mice, CoQ10 enhanced function of energy-producing mitochondria and slowed down aging processes (senescence) (3).

How Does Coenzyme Q10 Benefit the Heart?

CoQ10, given pre-surgery for coronary artery bypass grafting, resulted in reduced abnormal heart rhythm, reduced transfusions, and reduced length of hospital stay compared to placebo (4).

Supplemental CoQ10 also improves energy production and mitochondrial function for heart surgery patients  (6).

However, CoQ10 did not change heart tissue damage markers (troponin and CK-MB) after surgery (6).

Another double-blind trial, using a combination of metabolic therapy (coenzyme Q10, magnesium, selenium, and omega 3 fats) found reduced troponin levels, reduced hospital days and costs in the coQ10 group compared to placebo (7).

Coenzyme Q10 (100 mg three times daily) is also potentially helpful in people who have heart failure; compared to placebo, it improved functional status and reduced chances of further heart issues and mortality (8).

CoQ10 may prevent a damaging form of cholesterol (oxidized LDL) but more research is needed (26).

Do Medicines Deplete Coenzyme Q10?

Medications sometimes have unfortunate side effects. Here is a partial list of medicines that deplete coenzyme Q10:

  • Statins (cholesterol drugs) (9)
  • Beta Blockers (10)
  • Thiazide diuretics (for blood pressure)
  • Birth control/hormone replacement (11)
  • Sulfonylureas (diabetes drugs)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (11)

This can be a bummer for your mitochondria.

Does Coenzyme Q10 Reduce Statin Side Effects?

Use of CoQ10 may also reduce muscle pain associated with cholesterol drugs (12) (13)but not all studies show benefit with supplementation (14).

However, muscle aches (myalgias) when using statins may have other mechanisms as well.

In rats receiving statins, CoQ10 helped improved mitochondrial function in numerous ways, including energy production and membrane function (15).

My stance: Statins deplete the body of coQ10, which is essential to heart function. It would appear intuitive to take supplements when taking these drugs if possible.

How does selenium relate to CoQ10 and statins?

Selenium-containing proteins are required to make coQ10 in the body.  They help provide the antioxidant capabilities of CoQ10 (17).

Statins also inhibit the formation of these selenium-containing proteins (17).

Statins, or cholesterol drugs, also reduce the ability to make vitamin K2 in the body (18).

Diet Detective Pearl:  If you take statins, it makes sense to take coQ10 with selenium, vitamin K2, and great multivitamin/mineral supplements.

Coenzyme Q10 Reduces Inflammation

In patients with coronary artery disease, CoQ10 at 300 mg per day reduced inflammation and improved antioxidant enzyme activities (19).

A review of nine studies found CoQ10 helpful to reduce inflammatory markers (20).

Coenzyme Q10 Migraine Benefits

CoQ10 reduced migraine symptoms and frequency compared to placebo (21).

Further supporting this, children with migraines were found to have low levels of coenzyme Q10 and supplementation of CoQ10 decreased headache frequency and disability (22).

A combination of coQ10, feverfew, and magnesium reduced migraine symptoms by at least 50% in over 75% of patients receiving the supplements.  Quality of life and mood also improved (23).

Another combination of coQ10, riboflavin, and magnesium reduced migraine symptom burden and intensity compared to placebo (24).

Coenzyme Q10 May Help Blood Pressure

CoQ10 likely reduces blood pressure, but study designs vary quite a bit, making it difficult to determine or predict how much it will help  (26) (27).

Coenzyme Q10 and Neurological Disorders

Use of coQ10 may benefit function in patients with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and Friedreich’s ataxia (28(29).

Use of coQ10 was associated with reduced progression of Parkinson’s disease (30).

Coenzyme Q10 deficiency from inherited mitochondrial diseases is rare, and often not diagnosed, but benefits from supplementation (31).

Coenzyme Q10 and Dental Health

Supplemental coenzyme Q10 may also improve inflammation in periodontal disease (32).

Supplementing Coenzyme Q10

Supplemental coQ10 is generally made from the fermentation of bacteria or yeast.  It is possible to be allergic to CoQ10 supplementation.

Doses of coQ10 vary widely, depending on the study.  Typically, 100-400 mg are used for cardiovascular health.

Higher doses up to 2000 mg have been used for neurological conditions.

Coenzyme Q10 is safe for most people, with mild stomach discomfort reported in less than 1% of people taking it (32).

Coenzyme Q10 has little to no drug interaction potential, but always check in with your health provider before adding supplements (33).

Closing Thoughts

Coenzyme Q10 has roles throughout the entire body as an antioxidant and is indispensible for energy production.

It may be wise to consider supplementation with certain medications such as statins, beta blockers, hormone replacement or birth control, sulfonylureas and others.

Supplements also may be beneficial in certain medical conditions, to compensate for a poor diet, and during the aging process.

A healthy and balanced diet helps your own body make the most coenzyme Q10.

The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body and is shared for educational purposes only. Consult your doctor or healthcare provider before making changes to your supplement regimen or lifestyle.

2 Comments
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