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Do I Need CoQ10?

By Sandi Busch

Without coenzyme Q10, your body can’t produce energy, which supports your metabolism and keeps you alive and thriving. In addition to this vital role, it’s also an important antioxidant. Though your body needs coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, deficiencies are rare, since your body makes it and you get it through a variety of foods. Coenzyme Q10 supplements may help treat some medical conditions.

Coenzyme Q10 Basics

When cells throughout your body convert sugar into energy, they follow a chain of events that can’t proceed unless coenzyme Q10 is present. These cells synthesize their own CoQ10, which requires vitamin B6 and the amino acids, tyrosine and phenylalanine. As an antioxidant, coenzyme Q10 neutralizes unstable molecules, known as free radicals, before they damage structural fats in cell membranes. Due to its essential roles, coenzyme Q10 may have the potential to treat or prevent a variety of health conditions. But the evidence to date does not support its ability to improve athletic endurance, prevent age-related decline or lower blood sugar. Although research is ongoing, there is also no evidence that CoQ10 aids in the treatment of Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease or cancer, according to the Linus Pauling Institute website.

Foods with CoQ10

Most people consume about 10 milligrams of CoQ10 daily through their diets, but since it’s not an essential nutrient, a recommended daily intake has not been established. The best sources are meat, poultry and fish. You’ll get 2.6 milligrams from a 3-ounce serving of beef and 1.4 milligrams from a 3-ounce serving of fried chicken. Fish falls in the same range. For example, herring has 2.3 milligrams per 3-ounce serving, while trout has about 1 milligram in the same size serving. Sesame seeds and pistachio nuts provide less than 1 milligram per 1-ounce serving, while 1/2 cup of strawberries, one orange, 1/2 cup of boiled broccoli and 1 boiled egg all contain less than .5 milligrams.

Causes of Deficiency

Even though levels of CoQ10 naturally go down as you get older, this doesn’t necessarily cause a deficiency. If you’re healthy and eat a balanced diet, you probably don’t need to worry about having a lack of CoQ10. Some medical conditions and medications decrease CoQ10 levels, however. For instance, rare genetic mitochondrial disorders cause a deficiency, while low blood levels are also found in people with diabetes, cancer and congestive heart failure. Cholesterol-lowering medications may interfere with your body’s ability to synthesize CoQ10. You may also need extra coenzyme Q10 if you take beta blockers, antidepressants or medications to treat high blood pressure.

Supplemental Support

If you have hypertension, talk with your doctor about taking coenzyme Q10 because it can help lower blood pressure. It also shows promise for relieving symptoms caused by congestive failure, although research results are mixed, according to the NYU Langone Medical Center website. Further, CoQ10 may boost the immune systems of people with cancer, notes the National Cancer Institute website. Supplements also improve symptoms related to some mitochondrial disorders. Recommended doses of CoQ10 range from 30 to 300 milligrams daily. While it’s safe for most people, you shouldn't take CoQ10 until you consult your physician if you’re pregnant, take any prescription medications or have heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease or hypertension.

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