What Is CoQ10?

By Sandi Busch

All of the energy you rely on to stay active and healthy depends on coenzyme Q10. Since it’s essential for energy production, your body makes CoQ10. You'll also get it from natural sources such as meat, poultry, fish, soybeans and nuts, but a recommended daily intake has not been established. In supplemental form, CoQ10 may interact with medications, so consult your health care provider to be sure you can safely take CoQ10 supplements.

Senior couple walking hand in hand

All of the energy you rely on to stay active and healthy depends on coenzyme Q10. Since it’s essential for energy production, your body makes CoQ10. You'll also get it from natural sources such as meat, poultry, fish, soybeans and nuts, but a recommended daily intake has not been established. In supplemental form, CoQ10 may interact with medications, so consult your health care provider to be sure you can safely take CoQ10 supplements.

Coenzyme Q10 Basics

Coenzyme Q10 is often called vitamin Q10 or shortened to CQ10 or CoQ10. You may also see it referred to as ubiquinone, although it’s one of several compounds in the ubiquinone family, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. CoQ10 is found in every cell in your body, where it fills two essential jobs.

CoQ10 must be available for cells to synthesize energy. The process that produces energy would stop without CoQ10 there to shuttle electrons from one step to the next.

Ubiquinol is a form of CoQ10 that works as an antioxidant. In this role, it protects fats from damage by reactive molecules known as free radicals. This is important because fats form the structure of cell membranes and lipoproteins, which transport fats through your blood.

CoQ10 exists in several forms, including ubiquinol and ubiquinone. Ubiquinol is the active form and it's better absorbed, which makes it the best supplemental form.

Protects Heart Health

Some of CoQ10’s most promising benefits are associated with cardiovascular health. It may help lower your blood pressure. When kendo martial arts athletes took supplemental ubiquinol, their blood pressure went down compared to athletes who did not take supplements, according to an article published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness in November 2014.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in February 2013 found that CoQ10 may improve heart function in patients with congestive heart failure.

Patients with chronic heart failure had fewer symptoms and a lower incidence of hospitalizations when they took CoQ10 together with their prescribed medications, reported a study in JACC: Heart Failure in December 2014.

Other Health Benefits

The scientific evidence to date shows CoQ10 supplementation may help relieve fatigue and stiffness caused by fibromyalgia in patients who are CoQ10 deficient, according to a review in Molecular Syndromology in July 2014. The same review shows it may also improve nerve function in diabetics and help protect nerves in people with Parkinson's disease.

Taking CoQ10 supplements improved symptoms of depression and helped alleviate fatigue in patients with multiple sclerosis, reported a study in the January 2015 issue of Nutritional Neuroscience.

Overall, though, studies have produced conflicting results, and more research is needed to confirm CoQ10's effectiveness for all of these health conditions.

Caution With Supplements

Supplements can help boost CoQ10 levels, which decline due to age and health conditions such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease. While supplemental CoQ10 is safe for most people, it should not be mixed with some medications unless your physician gives the go-ahead.

CoQ10 may interfere with the effectiveness of blood-thinning medications such as warfarin. It could also amplify the impact of medications used to lower blood pressure, which might cause an unhealthy drop in your blood pressure.

Use CoQ10 supplements with caution if you have diabetes or nerve damage caused by HIV. CoQ10 may make blood sugar drop too low, and it can worsen symptoms of HIV-related neuropathy, reports NYU Langone Medical Center.

References

About the Author

Sandi Busch received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, then pursued training in nursing and nutrition. She taught families to plan and prepare special diets, worked as a therapeutic support specialist, and now writes about her favorite topics – nutrition, food, families and parenting – for hospitals and trade magazines.

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