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Coenzyme Q10

What does coenzyme q10 do?
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is also called ubiquinone, a name that signifies its ubiquitous (widespread) distribution in the human body. CoQ10 is used by the body to transform food into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy on which the body runs.

CoQ10 is a powerful antioxidant that protects the body from free radicals1 and helps preserve vitamin E, the major antioxidant of cell membranes and blood cholesterol.2

CoQ10 supplementation has been investigated as a way to improve physical endurance because of its effect on energy production; however, most research shows that CoQ10 does not improve athletic performance.3 In other research, investigators reported no differences in CoQ10 in muscles or blood from patients with fibromyalgia compared with healthy people.4

Synthesis of sperm requires considerable energy. Due to its role in energy production, CoQ10 has been studied in infertile men. Preliminary research reports that supplementation of CoQ7, a related molecule, increased sperm counts in a group of infertile men.5

Healing of the gums of the mouth (periodontal tissue) may require increased energy production; therefore, researchers have explored the effects of CoQ10 supplementation in people with periodontal disease, which has been linked to CoQ10 deficiency. Double-blind research shows that people with gum disease given CoQ10 achieve better results than those given a placebo.6

The role of CoQ10 in energy formation also relates to how the body uses carbohydrates. Preliminary research suggests that a close relative of this nutrient lowered blood sugar levels in a group of people with diabetes.7 People with type 2 (adult onset) diabetes have been found to have significantly lower blood levels of CoQ10 compared with healthy people.8

Virtually every cell of the human body contains CoQ10. It is concentrated in the mitochondria, the area of cells where energy is produced. The heart and liver contain the greatest amount of CoQ10. It has helped some people with congestive heart failure,(CHF)9 an effect reported in an analysis of eight controlled trials10 and found in some,11 though not all, double-blind studies.12 13 14 The beneficial effects of CoQ10 may not be seen until after several months of treatment. Discontinuation of CoQ10 supplementation in people with CHF has resulted in severe relapses and should only be attempted under the supervision of a doctor.15

Similar improvements have been reported in people with cardiomyopathies—a group of diseases affecting heart muscle. Research (including double-blind studies) in this area has been consistently positive.16

Also, due to its effect on heart muscle, researchers have studied CoQ10 in people with heart arrhythmias. Preliminary research in this area reported improvement after approximately one month in people with premature ventricular beats (a form of arrhythmia) who also suffer from diabetes.17

Angina patients taking 150 mg per day of CoQ10 report a greater ability to exercise without experiencing chest pain.18 This has been confirmed in independent investigations.19

CoQ10 appears to increase the heart’s tolerance to a lack of oxygen. Perhaps as a result, preliminary research has shown that problems resulting from heart surgery occurred less frequently in people given CoQ10 compared with the control group.20

Muscle mitochondria lack adequate CoQ10 in people with muscular dystrophy, a problem that could affect muscle function. In a double-blind three-month trial, four of eight people with muscular dystrophy had improvements in heart function and sense of well-being when supplementing CoQ10.21

Mitochondrial function also appears to be impaired in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Due to CoQ10’s effects on mitochondrial functioning, one group of researchers has given CoQ10 (along with iron and vitamin B6) to several people with Alzheimer’s disease and reported the progression of the disease appeared to have been prevented for one and a half to two years.22

CoQ10 also modulates immunity.23 Perhaps as a result, a few cases have been reported in which women with metastatic breast cancer (cancer that had spread to other tissues) had a regression of their cancer after treatment with a very large amount of CoQ10 (390 mg per day).24

CoQ10 appears to modulate blood pressure by reducing resistance to blood flow.25 Several trials have reported that supplementation with CoQ10 significantly reduced blood pressure in people with hypertension, usually after ten weeks to four or more months of treatment.26

In a double-blind study of 21 patients with chronic renal (kidney) failure, 15 of whom were on dialysis, supplementation with 60 mg of CoQ10 three times per day for four weeks improved certain measures of kidney function (BUN [blood urea nitrogen], serum creatinine, and creatinine clearance), compared with placebo, and eliminated the need for dialysis in some patients.27 Because chronic renal failure is a serious and complicated disease, individuals with this condition should take CoQ10 only under strict medical supervision.

In a double-blind trial, administration of 1,200 mg of CoQ10 per day for 16 months to people with early Parkinson's disease significantly slowed the progression of the disease, compared with a placebo.28 Smaller amount of CoQ10 were slightly more effective than placebo, but the difference was not statistically significant.

Where is coenzyme q10 found?
CoQ10 is found primarily in fish and meat, but the amounts in food are far less than what can be obtained from supplements.

Coenzyme Q10 has been used in connection with the following conditions 
(refer to the individual health concern for complete information)

Health Concerns

Heart attack
High blood pressure


Cerebellar ataxia (familial)
Congestive heart failure
Gingivitis (periodontal disease)
Halitosis (if gum disease)
Migraine headaches
Parkinson's disease
Renal (kidney) failur


Alzheimer’s disease
Athletic performance
Breast cancer
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
HIV support
Infertility (male)
Insulin resistance syndrome (Syndrome X)
Lung cancer
Muscular dystrophy
Prostate cancer

Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support and/or minimal health benefit.


 Who is likely to be deficient of coenzyme q10?

Deficiency is poorly understood, but it may be caused by synthesis problems in the body rather than an insufficiency in the diet. Low blood levels have been reported in people with heart failure, cardiomyopathy, gingivitis (inflammation of the gums), morbid obesity, hypertension, muscular dystrophy, diabetes, AIDS, and in some people on kidney dialysis. People with phenylketonuria (PKU) may be deficient in CoQ10 because of dietary restrictions.29CoQ10 levels are also generally lower in older people. The test used to assess CoQ10 status is not routinely available from medical laboratories.

Which form of coenzyme Q10 is best?
Some,30 but not all,31 research suggests that a fat-soluble form of CoQ10 is absorbed better than CoQ10 in granular (powder) form.32

How much coenzyme q10 is usually taken?
Adult levels of supplementation are usually 30–90 mg per day, although people with specific health conditions may supplement with higher levels (with the involvement of a physician). Most of the research on heart conditions has used 90–150 mg of CoQ10 per day. People with cancer who consider taking much higher amounts should discuss this issue with a doctor before supplementing. There are several anecdotal reports of large amounts of CoQ10 resulting in improvements in certain types of cancer. However, controlled trials are needed to confirm these preliminary observations. Most doctors recommend that CoQ10 be taken with meals to improve absorption.

Are there any side effects or interactions with coenzyme q10?
Congestive heart failure patients who are taking CoQ10 should not discontinue taking CoQ10 supplements unless under the supervision of a doctor.

An isolated test tube study reported that the anticancer effect of a certain cholesterol-lowering drug was blocked by addition of CoQ10.33 So far, experts in the field have put little stock in this report because its results have not yet been confirmed in animal, human, or even other test tube studies. The drug used in the test tube is not used to treat cancer, and preliminary information regarding the use of high amounts of CoQ10 in humans suggests the possibility of anticancer activity.34 35 36

Are there any drug interactions?
Certain medicines may interact with coenzyme Q10. Refer to drug interactions for a list of those medicines.