Promoting good health can often seem like a challenge. There are simply so many different things that we have to try and keep in balance, including what we eat, how much we move and what supplements (if any) we take.
All of this can seem overwhelming, especially as there is so much contradictory advice out there.
There are relatively few supplements that I directly recommend, because wherever possible it is better to get nutrients from your diet rather than from a bottle.
However, there are exceptions to this.
CoQ10 is one such exception.
This compound is significant not only because of CoQ10 health benefits but also because it is a compound that is needed in our bodies.
A Little Background
CoQ10 is a natural antioxidant and it comes from a range of sources.
These sources include the diet and supplements. Additionally, humans synthesize CoQ10 and the compound is found in every cell in the body.
The highest concentrations of CoQ10 can be found in the organs of the body that have higher energy requirements, like the heart and the liver (1).
CoQ10 also has importance in cases where people are deficient in the compound.
Because of the roles of CoQ10, there has been considerable emphasis on research about the potential of CoQ10 supplementation for a range of different health conditions (6).
CoQ10 and the Heart
Much of the research into CoQ10 focuses on the health and on reducing the risk of heart disease, often by influencing risk factors for heart disease.
In fact, CoQ10 supplementation has been suggested as a key approach in preventing cardiovascular disease (7).
For example, clinical trials have indicated that CoQ10 supplements can play a significant role in treating hypertension in patients by significantly lowering blood pressure (8). This also suggests that the process of supplementing with CoQ10 may provide a way of reducing the amount of antihypertensive drugs that people need to take (9).
Another example is an experimental study that looked at CoQ10 supplementation for patients with type 2 diabetes. In this study, the authors found that the supplementation had benefits on the levels of cardiovascular risk factor ADMA, contributing to decreased diabetic cardiovascular events (10).
At the same time, the antioxidant properties of CoQ10 have been associated with the potential to help treat cardiovascular disease (11). Indeed, CoQ10 (along with some other antioxidants) has been associated with therapeutic and preventative benefits concerning cardiovascular diseases (12).
One study found that treatment with CoQ10 was able to reduce complications in a specific type of cardiac surgery. This outcome was also linked to the antioxidant properties of CoQ10 (13).
Another study indicated that long-term treatment with CoQ10 was safe for patients with chronic heart failure and helped to improve symptoms and reduce major cardiovascular events (14).
Research has suggested that CoQ10 may provide an important form of therapy for these diseases although further research is needed to determine how effective CoQ10 is in this role (15).
CoQ10 supplementation appears to be an effective way of resolving issues of CoQ10 deficiency that arise from insufficient amounts of CoQ10 in the diet (16).
There is currently more than 30 years of research supporting the use of CoQ10 and its safety as a supplement for a range of health benefits (17).
The antioxidant aspects of CoQ10 have also been linked to other potential health benefits.
For example, one study indicated that in the short-term, CoQ10 supplementation could help to reduce some biochemical, inflammatory and oxidative parameters following exercise (18).
Similar results were found in a study looking at chronic fatigue syndrome and a cycle ergometer test (19).
Research also offers some support of the role that CoQ10 can play on the glycemic control and blood pressure of people with type 2 diabetes.
One study examined this in a randomized study involving 74 participants.
In this study, one group was provided with 100mg of CoQ10 twice each day, and they experienced significant improvements in their blood pressure and also in their glycemic control (20).
Additionally, some research studies have found that supplementation with CoQ10 can decrease how often people experience migraines and how long they last (21).
CoQ10 is also thought to play a significant role in some mental illnesses, such as depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, all of which are thought to be linked to problems in the mitochondria (22,23).
Limitations of Research
Even though there have been many studies on CoQ10 in general, there have been relatively few on any specific proposed benefit, such as preventing cardiovascular disease (26).
For example, studies on CoQ10 and heart disease have tended to involve small trials that considered psychological outcomes rather than clinically significant endpoints (27). This means that the studies tend to look at things like the change in concentration of a chemical rather than examining any actual change in cardiovascular disease outcomes.
This makes it difficult to prove whether or not CoQ10 health benefits do occur or to determine which types of health benefits are significant in human populations.
This pattern frequently occurs when it comes to supplements and some other approaches to health, because of funding.
For example, drug companies have considerable resources, which allows them to sponsor and promote research into the drugs that they sell.
That isn’t the case for supplements.
In fact, there is relatively little money in supplements, especially as so many different companies produce the same supplements. So, while there is research into the field, it tends to be slow and often studies are limited in scope or design because of financial limitations.
One important thing is that while there is not a consensus in the research, there also isn’t a large number of research studies indicating that CoQ10 does not offer health benefits.
Instead, the main issue seems to be that there simply has not been enough research done.
What you take away from all of this is up to you.
From the research I’ve discussed, I feel that there is more than enough evidence to recommend CoQ10 supplementation to anyone wanting to improve their health, especially if they are at risk for cardiovascular disease.
However, many advocates for CoQ10 supplementation may be overblown in their claims, as there is certainly a long way still to go in the research.
This means that people taking statins end up with lower levels of CoQ10 (29) and are potentially much more at risk for CoQ10 deficiency.
That issue may also contribute to some of the side effects that people taking statins may experience.
Because of this, taking CoQ10 supplements while on statin medication may help to decrease some of the side effects experienced as part of statin therapy
CoQ10 in the Diet
Like many nutrients, CoQ10 can be obtained from the diet.
Some of the key sources of this nutrient include vegetable oils, meats and fish that comes from cold water, such as salmon and tuna (30). The site One Green Planet also has information about various ways to get enough CoQ10.
However, if you are aiming to get some or all of your CoQ10 from your diet, I would recommend trying to avoid oils that are heavy in omega-6, as omega-6 is associated with a range of health problems (31).
It can also be challenging to get sufficient CoQ10 in the diet because the ideal amount hasn’t yet been established – especially if you are trying to get the health benefits of CoQ10.
In fact, CoQ10 supplementation may even be relevant for people who do not have health conditions, as the supplement can help in decreasing the risk of some diseases.
Dosage Consideration for CoQ10 Supplementation
As with any supplement or medication, research on CoQ10 has considered a range of different types of supplementation amounts, frequency and length of supplementation.
The amount used for supplementation also varies depending on the purpose of the supplementation.
For example, the normal dose used by people who are using CoQ10 for the treatment of hypertension is somewhere in the range of 120mg to 200mg per day, normally split into two different doses.
The dosage is a little different for people who are also taking statins, and this often ranges from 100mg to 200mg, again on a daily basis (32).
One of the challenges of CoQ10 supplementation is that it has a low absorption.
In some cases, this can create gastrointestinal problems.
Taking the supplement in two smaller doses per day rather than one larger dose can help to offset this problem.
An additional approach is to have the supplement with a meal that is high in fat, which can serve to improve absorption.
There are also differences across the types of supplements, with dry dosage capsules frequently being more difficult to absorb than soluble variants or soft-gel capsules (33).
Who Should Take CoQ10
Research has shown that CoQ10 is largely safe as a supplement for improving overall heath, and studies have confirmed no significant adverse effect from regular supplements of 200mg CoQ10 daily for up to a year or 100 mg daily for a six years (34).
Along with the fact that CoQ10 is not associated with side effects (35), these outcomes suggest that CoQ10 is safe for long-term supplementation.
People who are undergoing statin treatment should almost certainly take CoQ10 supplements as these can help mitigate how statins decrease CoQ10 levels.
Additionally, CoQ10 supplementation may play an important role for people towards the end of their life as negative impacts of oxidation are often associated with the biological processes of aging (36).
Many people choose to take CoQ10 supplementation on a regular basis because of its role in the prevention of diseases and the fact that the supplementation is safe and not associated with significant effects.
This means that people have the chance to obtain benefits from CoQ10 supplementation, but do not experience significant risk.
Safety and CoQ10 Supplementation
Like most supplements or medications, there are some people who should not take CoQ10 and some cases where it is not recommended.
Although evidence suggests that CoQ10 is safe for the majority of children, it is generally suggested that they do not consume CoQ10 without medical supervision.
Additionally, CoQ10 should not be taken by anyone who is breastfeeding or pregnant, as this could result in unpredicted outcomes for the child.
Coq10 should also not be taken in the weeks leading up to surgery.
When taking CoQ10 it is important to be mindful of the potential for negative interactions with other drugs.
In particular, CoQ10 is a supplement that decreases blood pressure.
This may cause interactions with other medications that have similar outcomes or in people who already have low blood pressure. The Mayo Clinic also has additional information about what to watch out for with the supplement.
This is important to be aware of as very low blood pressure can have negative impacts on health.
Nevertheless, for most people, CoQ10 is a safe supplement and one that has the potential to help improve health.