What is CoQ10: Benefits, Dosage, Side Effects

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an essential nutrient that is produced naturally in the body. This nutrient can also be found in many foods we eat. CoQ10 is a compound that helps create energy in the cells of the body. Even though the body produces this compound naturally, but the production starts to decrease as you age. However, the good news is that you can get CoQ10 either through supplements or by consuming foods rich in CoQ10.

CoQ10 has many important roles to play in the body. Studies have linked low levels of CoQ10 in the body with health conditions like brain disorders, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.1 However, it is still not completely clear whether having low levels of CoQ10 is responsible for causing these diseases or these health conditions lower the levels of CoQ10. What is clear, though, is that a lot of research has shown the many health benefits of CoQ10.

Here’s everything you need to know about the benefits of coenzyme Q10.

What is CoQ10?

Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, is a compound produced by the body and responsible for providing energy. CoQ10 is stored in the mitochondria of the cells, which is the part of the cell that produces energy. Mitochondria also protect the cells from disease-causing viruses and bacteria and from oxidative damage.23

Even though CoQ10 is produced naturally by the body, with age, the production starts to decrease. This is why older people are usually found to be deficient in CoQ10. Some of the other causes of CoQ10 deficiency in people may include:4

  • Genetic defects in the synthesis of CoQ10 or utilization of CoQ10
  • Nutritional deficiencies, especially deficiency of vitamin B6
  • Mitochondrial diseases
  • Side effects of statin treatments
  • Increased demands by tissues due to an underlying illness.
  • Oxidative stress due to the natural aging process

Research has found that CoQ10 plays many different vital roles in the body. One of its primary functions of CoQ10 is to help produce energy in the cells. CoQ10 is involved in the manufacturing of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is needed by the body for carrying out energy transfer within the cells.

Another vital role CoQ10 plays in the body is that it serves as a powerful antioxidant, which protects the cells from oxidative damage.5 Having excessive amounts of free radicals in the body can lead to oxidative damage. This can disrupt the regular functioning of the cell and is known to be the cause of many health conditions.6

Since ATP is responsible for carrying out all the body’s functions, and oxidative damage can destroy the cells, many scientists believe that many chronic diseases are related to having low levels of CoQ10. CoQ10 is present in each and every cell of the body, but the highest concentrations can be found in organs that have the highest energy demands, such as the lungs, liver, and heart.7

Here are the main health benefits of CoQ10.

1. CoQ10 May Help In Heart Failure

Heart failure can happen as a consequence of other heart-related conditions, such as high blood pressure or coronary artery disease.8 These conditions can cause inflammation of the veins and arteries and increase oxidative damage in the body.9

Heart failure can happen when problems that affect the heart reach a point when the heart is no longer able to contract correctly, pump blood through the body, or relax. To make things worse, specific treatments for heart failure also have many side effects, including low blood pressure, which some medications can reduce the levels of CoQ10 even more.10

In a 2014 study carried out on 420 people who had heart failure, treatment with CoQ10 for a period of two years helped improve their symptoms and also decreased the risk of dying from their heart problems.11

Another study successfully treated 641 people with CoQ10 or a placebo for a period of one year, at the end of which, participants in the CoQ10 group were found to have been hospitalized less frequently for worsening of their heart failure. They also experienced fewer complications from their heart-related problems.12

Based on various studies, researchers and doctors are confident that treatment with CoQ10 can assist a person by restoring their optimal levels of energy production, improve heart function, and also lesser oxidative damage. All these factors are known to significantly help in the treatment of heart failure.

2. CoQ10 Can Help Keep Your Skin Young

The skin is the largest organ in the body, and every day it is exposed to various types of damaging agents that lead to aging. These damaging agents can either be internal or external. Some of the internal damaging factors include hormonal imbalances and cellular damage. External factors that cause damage to the skin include environmental agents like ultraviolet rays.13

Harmful elements can also decreased skin moisture and reduces protection from environmental agents. These elements can also cause thinning of the layers of the skin.14

Application of CoQ10 directly to the skin can help reduce damage from both internal and external factors as it increases the energy production in the skin cells. CoQ10 also promotes better antioxidant protection for the skin.15

The application of CoQ10 directly to the skin has also been shown to decrease oxidative damage that is typically caused by exposure to ultraviolet rays and also reduce the depth of wrinkles.16

People with low levels of CoQ10 have also been found to be at a higher risk of developing skin cancer.17

3. CoQ10 Can Help With Headaches

Studies have found that abnormal functioning of mitochondria can cause an increased uptake of calcium by the cells, decreased antioxidant protection, and an excessive production of free radicals. This can cause low energy levels in the brain cells and even migraines.18

CoQ10 is primarily found in the mitochondria of the cells, and it has been found to help improve with mitochondrial function and also reduce the inflammation that tends to accompany migraines.19

A 2005 study showed that supplementing with CoQ10 proved to be nearly three times more helpful in reducing the number of migraines in 42 people.20

A CoQ10 deficiency has also been observed in people who have regular migraines.

Another larger study carried out in 2007 on 1550 people who had low levels of CoQ10 found that after being treated with CoQ10, participants experienced less severe and fewer headaches.21

At the same time, initial research shows that CoQ10 not only helps in the treatment of migraines but it can also prevent them. 22 However, more research is still needed in this field.

4. CoQ10 Can Help With Diabetes

Oxidative stress is a leading cause of cell damage, which can lead to metabolic diseases like diabetes. Simultaneously, abnormal functioning of the mitochondria has also been associated with insulin resistance.23

CoQ10 has also been found to help improve insulin sensitivity, and it plays an important role in regulating blood sugar levels in the body.24

Taking CoQ10 supplements has shown to help increase the concentrations of the compound in the bloodstream by nearly three times in people with diabetes, who usually have low levels of CoQ10.25 , 26

A study carried out on people with type 2 diabetes were given a supplement containing CoQ10 for a period of 12 weeks. The study observed that supplementing with CoQ10 helps to significantly lower the levels of fasting blood sugar and hemoglobin A1C, which is the average measurement of your blood sugar levels over the last two to three months.27

CoQ10 has also been shown to prevent diabetes by boosting the fat breakdown process and decreasing the buildup of fat cells that causes type 2 diabetes or obesity.28

5. CoQ10 Can Help The Brain

Mitochondria play an important role as the primary energy generators of the brain cells. However, as mentioned above, the mitochondrial function starts to decline with age. Sometimes, total mitochondrial dysfunction can cause the death of brain cells and lead to diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.29

The brain is very vulnerable to oxidative damage because of the presence of high fatty acid content and the high demand for oxygen. Oxidative damage can boost the production of harmful compounds in the brain cells that can adversely impact cognition, memory, and even physical functions of the body.3031

Supplementing with CoQ10 can decrease these harmful compounds and help in slowing down the progression of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.3233

6. CoQ10 May Help In Cancer Prevention

Oxidative stress has been shown to cause cell damage and have an impact on cell functioning.34 In the body is unable to fight off excessive oxidative damage, this can change or damage the structure of your cells, which may increase the risk of cancer.35

CoQ10 can help protect cells from the damage caused by oxidative stress and also promote cellular energy production, thus boosting their survival rate and overall health. Studies have found that the majority of cancer patients have been shown to have low levels of CoQ10.36

Low levels of CoQ10 have also been associated with a 53.3 percent higher risk of developing cancer and also a poor prognosis for different types of cancer.37 One study has even suggested that taking CoQ10 supplementation can help lower the risk of cancer recurrence.38

What Is The Correct Dosage Of CoQ10, and Does It Cause Any Side Effects?

CoQ10 is available in two forms, which are:

  • Ubiquinol
  • Ubiquinone

The ubiquinol form accounts for almost 90 percent of all the CoQ10 present in the blood, and it is the most absorbable form of CoQ10. This is why it is usually recommended that you choose supplements that contain this form of CoQ10.3940

The conventional dosage of CoQ10 is between 90 to 200 milligrams (mg) per day. Doses up to 500 mg have also been found to be well-tolerated, and many studies have even prescribed higher doses without observing any type of serious side effects.41,42,43

Since CoQ10 is a fat-soluble compound, the absorption of CoQ10 is limited and slow. However, when you take CoQ10 supplements with food, it can help the body absorb it up to three times faster than when you take it without food. Furthermore, some products also provide a solubilized form of CoQ10 that can help improve its absorption. There are also some products that have a combination of CoQ10 and certain oils, which again enhances the absorption of the compound.4445

It is important to note that the body does not store CoQ10, which is why you need to continue using the supplements to experience the benefits. Supplements of CoQ10 are also usually well tolerated by humans, and they have been found to have low toxicity.46

Several studies have found that participants experienced no major side effects after taking daily doses of even 1200 mg for a period of 16 months.47

In case any side effects appear, you should divide your daily dose into two or three smaller doses. It is also advisable that you consult your doctor first before you start taking CoQ10 supplements.

Natural Sources of CoQ10

While CoQ10 can be taken in supplement form, if you want to benefit from CoQ10, you can also increase your intake of foods that are rich in this compound. Studies have shown that CoQ10 is absorbed in similar patterns through both foods and capsule form.48

Here are some foods that are rich in CoQ10:

  • Vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, and spinach
  • Fruits like strawberries and oranges
  • Fatty fish like herring, mackerel, trout, and sardine
  • Organ meats like liver, kidney, and heart
  • Muscle meats like chicken, pork, and beef
  • Legumes like lentils, peanuts, and soybeans
  • Nuts and seeds like pistachios and sesame seeds
  • Oils like canola and soybean oil

Conclusion

CoQ10 is an important compound that has many roles to play in the body. This fat-soluble, vitamin-like compound is known to have many health benefits and is also involved in cellular energy production. The rich antioxidant properties of CoQ10 also make it helpful in disease prevention, preservation of cells, and treatment of various chronic diseases.

CoQ10 has been found to help regulate blood sugar levels, improve heart health, help prevent and treat many types of cancers, and also reduce the frequency and severity of migraines. CoQ10 can either be consumed as a supplement, or you can increase the intake of foods that contain CoQ10.

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