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Foods high in coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10): are you getting enough?

Mike Bohl, MD, MPH, ALMlinnea zielinski

Medically Reviewed by Mike Bohl, MD, MPH, ALM

Written by Linnea Zielinski

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.

Most people aren’t excited about getting older. They’re not looking forward to their joints hurting or slowing down. They’re really dreading the wrinkles.

But there are aging processes inside our body too that we need to know about. They may not be, well, uplifting, but awareness means you can plan for them—and even anticipate the changes to age as well and healthfully as possible.

One of the things that happens as we age—that we don’t see written on the outside of our bodies—is that we start making less coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10).

CoQ10 is a compound that our bodies produce and then store in our mitochondria. It helps with energy production in our cells and also has antioxidant properties that combat oxidative damage throughout our bodies.

Oxidative damage is caused by free radicals, which are byproducts of chemical processes in our bodies. Free radicals are normal and natural. Unchecked by antioxidants, however, they can cause cellular damage.

This compound’s ability to lower oxidative stress and prevent oxidative damage means the health benefits of adequate levels of CoQ10 may include helping to protect against several diseases and boosting our heart health.

And there are other benefits of CoQ10. This compound may lower blood pressure (both systolic and diastolic) and reduce migraine headaches, which researchers believe are linked to mitochondrial function (Yorns, 2013).

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Foods high in CoQ10

Most people trying to follow a healthy diet rich in whole foods and low in processed foods are already getting some dietary intake of CoQ10. But if you want to boost your CoQ10 levels (and your cardiovascular health), make sure some of these foods are in your weekly diet.

  • Organ meats: kidney, liver
  • Fatty fish: sardines, salmon, trout, mackerel
  • Meats: chicken, beef, pork
  • Vegetables: spinach, broccoli, cauliflower
  • Fruits: strawberries, oranges
  • Oils: soybean and canola oils
  • Legumes: soybeans, lentils, peanuts
  • Nuts and seeds: pistachio, sesame seeds
  • Whole grains

Organ meats are especially good food sources of coenzyme Q10 with the highest concentrations of this compound. But if you find these difficult to work into your diet, talk to a medical professional about supplements.

Our bodies appear to absorb CoQ10 similarly from food and dietary supplements, so neither has an advantage over the other in terms of bioavailability (Weber, 1997).

Additional sources of CoQ10

CoQ10 supplementation is a viable option for everyone and may be easier for some people trying to get enough of this compound than planning their diets around food sources.

Healthcare providers may also put people on statin drugs on CoQ10 supplements since these cholesterol-lowering medications may deplete levels of this compound in the human body.

CoQ10 supplements are most commonly seen as capsules. If you’re shopping for a supplement, you may also see CoQ10 listed as two different ingredients—ubiquinol and ubiquinone.

It’s suggested that you choose ubiquinol since this form is the most readily absorbed. But since CoQ10 is fat-soluble, your body will better be able to use supplements you’re taking if they’re paired with a meal that contains some fat (Langsjoen, 2013).

Standard supplements range from 90–200 mg of CoQ10 per day. In some cases, a medical professional may suggest doses as high as 500 mg, but always follow medical advice when beginning a new supplement regimen.

References

  1. Langsjoen, P. H., & Langsjoen, A. M. (2013). Comparison study of plasma coenzyme Q10 levels in healthy subjects supplemented with ubiquinol versus ubiquinone. Clinical Pharmacology in Drug Development, 3(1), 13–17. doi: 10.1002/cpdd.73. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27128225
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. Weber, C., Bysted, A., & Hølmer, G. (1997). Intestinal absorption of coenzyme Q10 administered in a meal or as capsules to healthy subjects. Nutrition Research, 17(6), 941–945. doi: 10.1016/s0271-5317(97)00059-6. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0271531797000596
  5. 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