Coenzyme Q10 (COQ10) is a vital element for numerous day-to-day functions and is required by all cells in the body. It’s an antioxidant that helps delay signs of aging. Historically, it’s been used in many medical practices to treat heart issues.
While the body produces COQ10, it doesn’t do so consistently. A COQ10 deficiency is most commonly linked to the harmful effects of free radical damage (also called oxidative stress) (x). Low COQ10 levels are associated with diabetes, cancer, heart disease, fibromyalgia, muscle problems and declining cognition (x).
In fact, the antioxidant properties of COQ10 are what make it one of the world’s most popular anti-aging supplements. It can be an excellent addition to your integrative health and fitness plan.
What is COQ10?
Coenzyme Q10 is a strong antioxidant occurring naturally in almost all cells of the body (x). Antioxidants are compounds that destroy free radicals, which can cause damage in the body.
Free radicals are byproducts of certain cellular reactions, but behaviors like drinking too much or smoking can further result in a massive buildup of free radicals (x).
When the level of free radicals is too high, these ultra reactive substances destroy any healthy body part they encounter. If they face your DNA, they may destroy it, potentially causing mutations that could result in cancer. In addition, free radicals may lead to heart disease, stroke, alcoholic liver damage, arthritis and even premature aging (x).
Fortunately, your body produces certain antioxidants which can find and counteract free radicals, thus turning them into harmless compounds. You obtain other antioxidants from some of your foods.
Other antioxidants include flavonoids, phenols, ligands, vitamin C, vitamin E and the all-powerful antioxidant glutathione. In fact, glutathione has been proven to increase the levels of all other antioxidants circulating in your body (x).
You can also obtain antioxidants from food sources. The best dietary sources include plant-based foods like veggies, fruits, seeds, nuts, herbs and spices, as well as foods such as green tea and cocoa. Luckily, antioxidant-rich foods are also normally rich in fiber and are great sources of minerals and vitamins, so you’re receiving a whole host of benefits in just one food!
Best Food Sources
Your body is able to make its own Coenzyme Q10 whenever it’s necessary, but this aptitude can be diminished during times of elevated stress. This is when it can be very beneficial to consume foods rich in COQ10 (x).
COQ10 is a powerhouse antioxidant, and it’s found naturally in certain foods, including meat. To benefit from its anti-aging effects, you should consider these types of meat the next time you have a meal:
- Heart, liver or kidney
- Pasture-raised beef or chicken
- Pasture-raised egg yolks
- Fish — oily, fatty fish are the best option. You can choose from mackerel, trout, tuna, herring, Alaskan salmon or sardines
- Dairy, including butter
If you’re not into meat, there are other great food sources of this essential nutrient:
- Vegetables: Cauliflower, broccoli, sweet potato and natto.
- Fruit: Beware of sugary fruit since too much sugar can deplete COQ10 and cause blood sugar imbalances. The best fruits for COQ10 are avocados, apples, grapefruits, strawberries and black currants.
- Nuts and seeds: Hazelnuts, walnuts, pistachios and sesame seeds.
- Oils like extra-virgin olive oil.
As previously mentioned, COQ10 helps in filtering out free radicals from the body. Here are some other key health benefits of COQ10:
Boosts Energy Levels
Feeling less lively and blaming it on being “older?” Well, you may be deficient in Coenzyme Q10. Low COQ10 levels can hinder your mood, as well as zap your energy levels.
Once you take COQ10, you are better able to stimulate the production of cellular fuel (ATP) in your body, which refreshes your system. When your cells are fueled, your energy levels may rise. This boost fuels you through the day more energetically (x). Perhaps it’s time to take COQ10 as your morning pick-me-up?
So far, researchers have discovered that COQ10 boosts endurance in people suffering from cardiovascular problems, especially during exercise (x).
Further research is required to determine how COQ10 precisely impacts people not dealing with low energy.
COQ10 for Blood Pressure
Although this is good news for treating high blood pressure over a short period of time, the review was too inconclusive to validate the effectiveness of COQ10 for long-term treatment.
Coenzyme Q10 may be useful for patients with some cardiac conditions, including heart failure, coronary heart disease and atherosclerosis.
Coenzyme Q10 may help treat cardiac issues in a variety of ways. For instance, research suggests that COQ10 may decrease oxidative stress and promote the widening of blood vessels — an essential factor in the management of blood pressure (x).
Additionally, COQ10 may be advantageous for cardiac cells, which require tons of energy and are ultra sensitive to COQ10 deficiency.
According to guidelines from American Headache Society and American Academy of Neurology, Coenzyme Q10 is potentially useful for protecting against headaches, but there’s limited evidence to support this conclusion (x).
In one study, 43 people with migraines received either 100 milligrams of COQ10 or one placebo pill thrice a day for three months. Participants who used COQ10 reported at least a 50 percent decrease in frequency of migraine attacks compared to those who took the placebo at the study’s conclusion (x).
Helps Treat Diabetes
Coenzyme Q10 can possibly improve insulin sensitivity and diabetic neuropathy in diabetics. In one 2018 study, 50 individuals with diabetic neuropathy took either 100 milligrams of Coenzyme Q10 daily or a placebo pill for 12 weeks.
Participants who consumed Coenzyme Q10 had considerable drops in blood sugar, insulin resistance and oxidative stress markers compared to the placebo group (x).
Might Improve Male Infertility
The National Institutes of Health reports that COQ10 might enhance sperm count and semen quality in men struggling with infertility (x). It’s still unclear if this increases the chances of pregnancy, but the research looks promising.
Helps Treat Neurodegenerative Disorders
While few studies have investigated the effects of COQ10 supplementation in individuals with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, some preliminary research shows that the supplement can be useful among these populations.
For instance, animal-based research has indicated that COQ10 may hinder excessive beta-amyloid production (x). Beta-amyloid is a protein substance that creates brain plaques linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
Supports Healthy Muscles and Joints
You use your muscles and joints for movement and day-to-day physical activities. But over time, these body parts experience wear and tear. As such, you may occasionally develop sore joints and muscle weakness. In turn, some studies proclaim that COQ10 may have therapeutic effects on joints by decreasing cartilage degradation, relieving joint discomfort and supporting overall joint health. Researchers also allege how Coenzyme Q10 can possibly diminish the effects of discomfort and strain in muscles and joints caused by fatigue or injury.
Research also indicates that supplementing with COQ10 helps increase the level of this essential nutrient in muscles, which also boosts exercise performance (x).
Promotes Oral Health
Coenzyme Q10 has been shown to help decrease chronic swelling and redness in the mouth, thus supporting oral health. Thanks to Coenzyme Q10‘s ability to make cells produce energy, it boosts tissue repair in gums to help maintain better mouth health (x).
If you have a dry mouth, COQ10 can also help with that inconvenience. Older adults often experience dry mouth, as saliva production usually declines with age (x). One clinical trial showed that dry mouth improved in people who took a COQ10 supplement (x).
While Coenzyme Q10 probably won’t provide the latest “miracle” fat burner, this supplement can help you to possibly maintain a healthy weight.
Some of Coenzyme Q10’s weight loss benefits include improving fat metabolism, reducing oxidative stress and optimizing insulin and blood glucose levels (x).
Immune System Support
Coenzyme Q10 provides immune system support (x). Cells and tissues involved in immune function warrant optimal levels of energy (and thus adequate COQ10) to work consistently.
COQ10 for Skin
Many anti-aging serums and creams credit Coenzyme Q10 with improving wrinkles and fine lines. There’s evidence to show that topical COQ10 can help fight the noticeable signs of aging, thanks to a decrease in free radicals and a rise in antioxidant activity (x).
Studies have discovered that people with breathing problems and lung issues tend to have reduced Coenzyme Q10 levels in their bodies (x).
COQ10 improved tissue oxygenation and performance in people with lung problems during exercise as well as during times of rest (x).
Certain studies indicated that COQ10 can improve lung function in various ways, including decreasing the need for unusual interventions (x).
COQ10 Side Effects
There are tons of benefits associated with taking Coenzyme Q10. Although rare, COQ10 side effects can occur with larger doses of COQ10 or in people just getting started with the supplement (x).
The typical side effects include:
- Mild stomach upset
- Lowered blood sugar
- Restless sleep when used in large servings
- Potential blood clotting problems in people who take certain medications
Other Side Effects and Warnings
Coenzyme Q10 must not be taken by people under the age of 18, unless accompanied by doctor supervision (x).
Pregnant women should avoid COQ10, as there are no studies on its safety and efficacy among pregnant and nursing women. Diabetics must also consult their doctors before taking COQ10, to reduce the risk of low blood sugar levels.
COQ10 may interact with beta blockers, chemotherapy medicines, blood-thinning medicines and blood pressure medicines, making them less effective or over productive (x). For this reason, it’s always best to consult a doctor first before taking Coenzyme Q10.
Dividing daily doses into 2-3 small portions can help ease side effects. Please follow the directions on your supplement’s package and don’t take more than the recommended amount.
Coenzyme Q10 is available in the various forms, including powders. When taking COQ10 powder, try a dosage of 50 mg to 200 mg once daily. However, dosages may vary depending on the conditions the user is dealing with. You should consult your doctor before beginning any new medications or supplements.
Why Take COQ10?
Our cells use Coenzyme Q10 to help convert the energy we eat from carbs into adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, the type of energy used by our cells to perform many essential bodily functions (x). Adenosine triphosphate is vital for healthy bones, metabolism, muscle and neurological functioning (x).
COQ10 is also an antioxidant packed with vitamins C and E as well as selenium to help protect against damage to our cells caused by free radicals (x).
The Bottom Line
Coenzyme Q10 (COQ10) is a potent antioxidant that occurs naturally in almost all cells in the body. It’s also found in little amounts in meats, eggs, fish, seeds, nuts, vegetables and fruits. But our ability to make and use COQ10 reduces considerably as we age.
Research suggests that COQ10 may help prevent or treat a variety of diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, male infertility, kidney disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s (x). It may also help reverse or decrease signs of aging.
No studies have shown any severe side effects of taking COQ10, but there are certainly some potential side effects, including nausea, diarrhea, mild stomach upset, reduced blood sugar, heartburn, dizziness, headaches and/or fatigue.
You can eliminate or minimize these side effects by splitting servings among meals and ensuring that you take COQ10 with foods containing fat, as the supplement is fat-soluble.
For most health conditions, the typical recommended serving is 50-200 milligrams daily. However, it’s imperative to consult your healthcare provider before using any new nutritional supplements, including Coenzyme Q10.