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Last updated: Dec 22, 2019
6 min read

6 benefits of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) proven by science

Quite a few of the health benefits of CoQ10 are due to this enzyme’s ability to protect against oxidative stress. As you’ll see, that’s no insignificant ability as oxidative stress, and oxidative damage are associated with inflammation and a wide range of chronic diseases.

Disclaimer

If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

We don’t want to give you flashbacks to agonizing over chemistry equations, but CoQ10 is important. Despite its complicated name, CoQ10 or coenzyme Q10 has a relatively simple role in the body. This compound helps your cells generate energy.

CoQ10 is made by your body (though production tends to decline as you get older) and stored in your mitochondria, the energy production center of your cells. It plays a critical role in making adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a chemical that powers many processes in your body, such as muscle contraction.

But CoQ10 also acts as an antioxidant in your body, protecting your cells from damage that can be caused by compounds called free radicals.

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Benefits of CoQ10

Many of our normal biological processes create byproducts known as free radicals. These compounds can sometimes cause cellular damage known as oxidative stress––but not always.

Quite a few of the health benefits of CoQ10 are due to this enzyme’s ability to protect against oxidative stress. As you’ll see, that’s no insignificant ability as oxidative stress, and oxidative damage are associated with inflammation and a wide range of chronic diseases. Here are six benefits of CoQ10.

1. Treat heart conditions and heart failure

Heart failure doesn’t just happen. It’s the result of a buildup of damage from heart conditions such as coronary artery disease or hypertension (high blood pressure).

Over time, these conditions change the heart’s structure or function until it’s no longer able to pump blood throughout the body as it should. But studies show that CoQ10 may be able to help.

One that involved 420 participants with moderate to severe heart failure found that the enzyme was able to reduce their symptoms and even lower their risk of dying from cardiovascular events (Mortensen, 2014).

Participants of another study treated with CoQ10 had fewer hospitalizations for worsening heart failure or symptoms than the placebo group (Morisco, 1993). 

Researchers believe CoQ10 is able to improve the condition of patients with heart failure because it helps restore proper energy production and heart function while also protecting against oxidative damage (DiNicolantonio, 2015).

2. Help lower blood pressure

Abnormally high blood pressure, or hypertension, is one risk factor for cardiovascular disease. But CoQ10 may be able to boost heart health by lowering these numbers in hypertensive patients, reducing their risk of heart disease

One systematic review of 12 clinical trials found that CoQ10 was able to lower systolic blood pressure by up to 17 mm Hg, the bigger indicator of heart disease risk, but also diastolic blood pressure by up to 11 mm Hg (Rosenfeldt, 2007).

3. May help treat Parkinson’s

CoQ10 was able to slow the development of disabilities in patients with Parkinson’s disease in one small clinical study. All doses of the enzyme showed a significant benefit over placebo, but the largest dose (1200 mg of CoQ10 per day) was most effective (Shults, 2002).

4. Reduce symptoms of statin-induced myopathy

Statins are a type of cholesterol-lowering drug commonly prescribed for people with high-risk factors for cardiovascular disease. They can be very effective at lowering blood lipids, but they’re not without side effects.

One of the most serious of the potential side effects of statin drugs is myopathy, a condition in which muscle fibers don’t function properly. The result is muscle pain and a feeling of fatigue and muscle weakness.

But a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials shows that CoQ10 may help mitigate this effect. People with statin-induced myopathy given the supplement had fewer symptoms than those in the placebo groups (Qu, 2018).

5. Experience fewer migraines

Researchers believe there’s a connection between mitochondrial dysfunction and some types of migraine headaches. And migraine sufferers have been found to have lower levels of CoQ10 than those who don’t get the debilitating headaches. In fact, their levels are low enough to be considered a CoQ10 deficiency (Yorns, 2013; Hershey, 2007).

But adding CoQ10 into your supplement regimen may reduce migraines. Oral supplements of the enzyme successfully alleviated migraine symptoms compared to placebo in a small study. Participants taking CoQ10 experienced fewer headache days, migraine attack frequency, and incidents of headache-induced nausea (Sandor, 2005).

6. Boost physical performance and endurance

Since CoQ10 supports mitochondria and energy production in cells, a lack of CoQ10 in muscle cells may hinder muscle function and physical performance (think myopathy, but far less severe).

In fact, exercise intolerance is a common side effect of mitochondrial disease. The dysfunction in these vital energy production centers causes muscles to produce more lactic acid (what makes your muscles cramp during or after intense exercise) and free radicals (Siciliano, 2007).

During exercise, free radicals can also cause cellular damage. But one study found that supplementing with CoQ10 can prevent this process after intense exercise. 

Another found similar results but also that supplementing with this enzyme, and increasing levels of CoQ10 can boost endurance in both trained and untrained participants (Gül, 2011; Cooke, 2008).

How to get enough CoQ10

The body produces less CoQ10 as we age, so boosting dietary intake or opting for CoQ10 supplementation is more critical. But aging isn’t the only thing that lowers our levels of CoQ10.

Your levels may be lower after taking statin drugs or having a heart attack. In these cases, or in the case of coenzyme Q10 deficiency, a healthcare provider may recommend high doses to bring levels back to normal.

It’s worth noting that CoQ10 deficiency is rare, affecting an estimated 1 in 100,000 people. CoQ10 supplements are widely available as capsules, and you may see the ubiquinol form of this enzyme being used (Salviati, 2017).

This compound is generally well-tolerated, and the side effects of CoQ10 supplementation––if they do occur––tend to be mild. Side effects may include nausea, upset stomach, loss of appetite, and vomiting. In some people, supplements may cause allergies and skin irritation.

Supplements may be the easiest way to get a daily dose of this nutrient and help your CoQ10 levels remain high enough and steady (again, actually, a deficiency is extremely rare.)

Organ meats are excellent food sources, though these may be difficult to work into your daily diet. Eating fatty fish like mackerel is another effective way to increase the dietary intake of CoQ10. There are vegan-friendly sources of CoQ10, too. Some fruits and vegetables contain the compound, as well as some legumes, nuts, and seeds.

References

  1. Cooke, M., Iosia, M., Buford, T., Shelmadine, B., Hudson, G., Kerksick, C., … Kreider, R. (2008). Effects of acute and 14-day coenzyme Q10 supplementation on exercise performance in both trained and untrained individuals. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 5(1), 8. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-5-8. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18318910
  2. Cooke, M., Iosia, M., Buford, T., Shelmadine, B., Hudson, G., Kerksick, C., … Kreider, R. (2008). Effects of acute and 14-day coenzyme Q10 supplementation on exercise performance in both trained and untrained individuals. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 5(1), 8. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-5-8. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18318910
  3. Gül, I., Gökbel, H., Belviranli, M., Okudan, N., Büyükbaş, S., & Başarali, K. (2011). Oxidative stress and antioxidant defense in plasma after repeated bouts of supramaximal exercise: the effect of coenzyme Q10. The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 51(2), 305–312. Retrieved from https://www.minervamedica.it/en/journals/sports-med-physical-fitness/index.php
  4. Hershey, A. D., Powers, S. W., Vockell, A.-L. B., Lecates, S. L., Ellinor, P. L., Segers, A., … Kabbouche, M. A. (2007). Coenzyme Q10 Deficiency and Response to Supplementation in Pediatric and Adolescent Migraine. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 47(1). doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4610.2007.00652.x. Retrieved from https://headachejournal.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1526-4610.2007.00652.x
  5. Morisco, C., Trimarco, B., & Condorelli, M. (1993). Effect of coenzyme Q10 therapy in patients with congestive heart failure: a long-term multicenter randomized study. The Clinical Investigator, 71(S8). doi: 10.1007/bf00226854. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8241697
  6. Mortensen, S. A., Rosenfeldt, F., Kumar, A., Dolliner, P., Filipiak, K. J., Pella, D., … Littarru, G. P. (2014). The Effect of Coenzyme Q 10 on Morbidity and Mortality in Chronic Heart Failure. JACC: Heart Failure, 2(6), 641–649. doi: 10.1016/j.jchf.2014.06.008. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25282031
  7. Qu, H., Guo, M., Chai, H., Wang, W. T., Gao, Z. Y., & Shi, D. Z. (2018). Effects of Coenzyme Q10 on Statin‐Induced Myopathy: An Updated Meta‐Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Journal of the American Heart Association, 7(19). doi: 10.1161/jaha.118.009835. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30371340
  8. Rosenfeldt, F. L., Haas, S. J., Krum, H., Hadj, A., Ng, K., Leong, J.-Y., & Watts, G. F. (2007). Coenzyme Q10 in the treatment of hypertension: a meta-analysis of the clinical trials. Journal of Human Hypertension, 21(4), 297–306. doi: 10.1038/sj.jhh.1002138. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17287847
  9. Salviati, L. (2017, January 26). Primary Coenzyme Q10 Deficiency. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK410087/
  10. Sandor, P. S., Clemente, L. D., Coppola, G., Saenger, U., Fumal, A., Magis, D., … Schoenen, J. (2005). Efficacy of coenzyme Q10 in migraine prophylaxis: A randomized controlled trial. Neurology, 64(4), 713–715. doi: 10.1212/01.wnl.0000151975.03598.ed. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15728298
  11. Shults, C. W. (2002). Effects of Coenzyme Q10 in Early Parkinson Disease. Archives of Neurology, 59(10), 1541–1550. doi: 10.1001/archneur.59.10.1541. Retrieved from https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaneurology/fullarticle/782965
  12. Siciliano, G., Volpi, L., Piazza, S., Ricci, G., Mancuso, M., & Murri, L. (2007). Functional Diagnostics in Mitochondrial Diseases. Bioscience Reports, 27(1-3), 53–67. doi: 10.1007/s10540-007-9037-0. Retrieved frmo https://europepmc.org/article/med/17492503
  13. Yorns, W. R., & Hardison, H. H. (2013). Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Migraine. Seminars in Pediatric Neurology, 20(3), 188–193. doi: 10.1016/j.spen.2013.09.002. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24331360