CoQ10, or coenzyme Q10, is one of the antioxidants that your body naturally produces. Like other antioxidants, it helps your body grow and maintain cells. Low CoQ10 levels have been linked to aging and certain diseases.
Scientists have been investigating whether CoQ10 supplements to increase your body’s natural levels might help to prevent or treat various conditions.
CoQ10 is available both singularly and in combination as a supplement. It can be taken as tablets, capsules, liquid syrups, wafers, and intravenously (IV).
What is CoQ10?
Coenzyme Q10 is present in your body. You usually have high concentrations in your liver, heart, kidneys, and pancreas. These organs use and require a lot of energy.
CoQ10 is also present in fish, meat, and nuts. These foods do not have a high enough quantity of CoQ10 to raise the levels in your body. The only way to raise your internal CoQ10 is to take pharmacological supplements.
About one in 100,000 individuals has the genetic disorder of primary coenzyme Q10 deficiency. This deficiency can begin at any age with wide variations in severity. It is most common in younger patients.
People with primary CoQ10 deficiency may suffer increasing neurological problems unless they receive supplements. These can include:
- Problems with coordination and balance
- Intellectual disabilities
- Hypotonia, i.e., decreased muscle tone and strength
- Involuntary muscle contractions
- Muscle spasticity
- Vision loss
- Hearing loss
People with primary coenzyme Q10 deficiency may also have nephrotic syndrome, a kidney dysfunction. This may cause any of the following:
- Blood or protein in the urine
- Increased cholesterol
- Frequent infections
- Buildup of fluid in the abdominal cavity
You might experience decreased CoQ10 levels even without this genetic mutation. This is because CoQ10 naturally decreases with age.
Disorders associated with low CoQ10 levels include:
- Neurodegenerative disorders
- Heart disease
- Muscular dystrophy
The group of cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins can also reduce CoQ10 levels.
Benefits of CoQ10
In general, studies concerning the benefits of CoQ10 have been inconsistent and/or inconclusive. The bulk of the research has concerned the following conditions:
Limited research indicates that CoQ10 might reduce the risk of some complications of heart surgery. It may also reduce heart damage from one type of cancer drug.
Coenzyme Q10 has not been proven to have any effect on cancer or its symptoms. Research on the effects of CoQ10 in preventing heart disease or treating heart failure has also been inconclusive.
The scientific evidence suggests that CoQ10 probably does not have a significant effect on blood pressure.
CoQ10 supplements may help prevent migraines, but the evidence for this remains limited.
Several studies have analyzed the effect of CoQ10 supplements on people with Parkinson’s disease. There were no adverse side effects, but there was also no significant improvement. People who were given the placebo and those given the supplement had the same reactions.
A limited amount of research has been done on the effect of CoQ10 supplements on the following conditions:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease)
- Down syndrome
- Huntington’s disease
- Male infertility
At the present time, not enough research has been performed to justify any conclusions.
Risks and side effects
CoQ10 has been deemed safe for most people in recommended doses. It has few risks for adverse reactions with medications. In very few cases, study participants reported gastrointestinal problems when taking CoQ10 supplements.
CoQ10 may make the antihypertensive medicines taken by persons with low blood sugar dangerously strong. Consult your doctor before taking CoQ10 if you are in this group.
If you think you might benefit from CoQ10 supplementation, talk to your healthcare provider to see whether it might help you.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
American Academy of Neurology: "Study Shows Coenzyme Q10 May Prevent Migraine."
American Family Physician: "Coenzyme Q10."
American Kidney Fund: "Nephrotic syndrome."
Frontiers in bioscience: "Clinical applications of coenzyme Q10."
GeneReviews: "Primary Coenzyme Q10 Deficiency."
Mayo Clinic: "Coenzyme Q10."
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: "Coenzyme Q10."
Neurological Sciences: "The efficacy and safety of coenzyme Q10 in Parkinson's disease: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials."
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