Supplements for weight loss are incredibly common – and mostly ineffective. They typically make bold claims about how much you’ll lose, but rarely ever live up to them.
Yet, among all of that, there are a handful of ingredients that may actually help.
What does that mean for CoQ10 weight loss?
Is this compound as amazing as advocates suggest? Or, is it just another letdown?
What is CoQ10?
CoQ10 is short for Coenzyme Q10. You’ll also find it called ubiquinone or simply coenzyme Q (even CoQ, occasionally). Our bodies naturally produce the compound and CoQ10 is present in various foods too.
CoQ10 is created in the mitochondria of our cells and plays a critical role in energy generation. This includes being involved in food breakdown, a process that naturally releases energy.
It is also an antioxidant, helping to reduce oxidative stress and free radical damage to our bodies. Beyond this, CoQ10 is present in the membranes of most of our cells (1), which strongly illustrates its importance.
Why Supplement CoQ10?
Our bodies already produce CoQ10 and the compound is found in food. In fact, CoQ10 deficiency is uncommon, especially if you’re healthy with a diverse diet (2).
But, that doesn’t mean everyone is getting enough. CoQ10 production tends to decrease with age. It can decline with some diseases too (3).
We don’t know whether those low levels are the cause of disease or just a consequence. Either way, many studies have shown health benefits from increasing CoQ10 levels. We’ll look at those a little later on.
Deficiency is also just one part of the story. You may be getting enough CoQ10 for your essential functions but not enough to see all of the possible health benefits. The same pattern happens for vitamin D.
This applies to weight loss too.
Recommendations for CoQ10 levels don’t normally consider weight loss. As such, just avoiding CoQ10 deficiency may not be enough.
CoQ10 and Weight Loss
So then, what about CoQ10 weight loss? Is there any significant evidence? Let’s start by looking at why CoQ10 might help.
Weight Loss Theory
CoQ10 is important for energy production. Theories suggest that having more CoQ10 should improve your energy metabolism. This may increase how much energy you get from carbs and fatty acids. Such a pattern could contribute to improved metabolism and weight loss.
Another angle is fat cells. CoQ10 may help regulate fat cells and fat cell creation. This includes impacting the oxidation of fatty acids (4). By doing so, CoQ10 could promote the breakdown of fat cells (5).
The final area is age-related decline in CoQ10 levels. This pattern could contribute to weight gain that is often associated with age. However, a cause and effect relationship hasn’t been established.
There have been very few studies into whether CoQ10 helps with weight loss. The most significant one was published in 2005 and looked at the effects of various weight loss supplements on a middle-aged population.
The authors found that some of the supplements seemed to decrease weight gain, while others did not. CoQ10 was one that appeared to have no impact.
The study lasted for 10 years, so it is particularly powerful in that sense. Still, the results only apply to a single population. There was no attempt to control diet or lifestyle either.
This suggests that CoQ10 could still help with weight loss for some groups of people or some diet types. For example, the effects might be different for low-carb dieters, compared to people focusing on a conventional low-fat diet. Likewise, younger people may see more benefits.
Another study found that CoQ10 helped improve fat oxidation during exercise (7). This effect could possibly play a role in weight loss, although the authors simply focused on exercise-related measures.
Animal studies also suggest that:
The Balance of Evidence
Honestly, we don’t know whether CoQ10 helps with weight loss or not. There simply hasn’t been enough research. The studies that have been done are extremely limited and most are on animals, not humans.
There are also large gaps in our knowledge. For example, we don’t know all the mechanisms that CoQ10 has in the body or the indirect impacts that it can have.
The current evidence isn’t encouraging but it’s far too soon to suggest that CoQ10 has no weight loss implications.
The Health Benefits of CoQ10
CoQ10 does have some potential for weight loss. But, right now, it’s just potential, nothing more. There isn’t enough evidence to say one way or another about whether it can help you lose weight.
This doesn’t mean you should ignore CoQ10 entirely. Instead, the compound has other health implications, ones that have been researched in much more depth.
The following areas are all key advantages associated with CoQ10:
- Improved heart health. For example, one study found that long-term CoQ10 treatment helped to lower cardiovascular mortality in heart disease patients (13). Another study found that CoQ10 supplementation reduced the risk of hospitalization for patients with congestive heart failure (14).
- Decreased heart disease risk. CoQ10 has also been suggested for the primary prevention of heart disease. Relatively few studies have been conducted but there is some evidence to support this outcome (15).
- May reduce migraines. Experimental research shows that regular CoQ10 supplemention decreases migraine frequency more than a placebo. CoQ10 may also help treat migraines when they occur. These effects are associated CoQ10’s role in the mitochondria (16,17).
- Increased exercise performance. The antioxidant and mitochondrial impacts of CoQ10 may be relevant for exercise performance (18,19,20).
- Cognitive advantages. Improving mitochondria function is thought to be a key way to improve cognition. CoQ10 supplementation may be one way to do this, especially as CoQ10 also has antioxidant roles (21,22,23).
- Diabetes benefits. CoQ10 has been linked to biological improvements for people with diabetes (24), including better insulin sensitivity (25) and glycemic control (26).
- Antioxidant effects. The antioxidant role of CoQ10 has many more advantages as well, such as protecting the lungs (27), reducing the risk of cancer and other diseases (28,29), and helping to fight aging (30).
More research is still needed in these fields, of course. Even with that limitation, it’s clear that CoQ10 has some potential for your health.
Where to Find CoQ10
For the regular population, evidence about CoQ10 supplementation benefits is mixed. The weight loss impact isn’t clear and many of the health advantages are suspected but not proven.
Even so, CoQ10 supplementation makes sense.
For one thing, it’s safe. Research shows that there are no serious adverse effects and that this type of supplement is common (31,32). CoQ10 is also often used as part of an antioxidant strategy, which may lower disease risk or symptoms.
If you’re going to increase your CoQ10 intake, how do you go about it?
CoQ10 can be found in many types of food, although the dose is typically low.
The highest concentrations are found in organ meats. These are important for other nutrients too, including hyaluronic acid and vitamin K2. Organ meat isn’t for everyone. But, if you’re interested in trying it out, PaleoLeap has a fascinating guide about how to cook unusual pieces of meat.
Other food sources include:
- Fish, particularly mackerel, rainbow trout and sardines
Unless you’re eating organ meats most days, getting your CoQ10 from food probably isn’t realistic. And, we’re just talking about the recommended dose. If you want weight loss and health benefits, you may need more CoQ10 still.
Various brands produce CoQ10 supplements. You can find these at your local health store or online. For example, the brand Life Extension has 100 mg softgel ubiquinol CoQ10 supplement, which receives good reviews.
Some supplements will also pair CoQ10 with other ingredients to improve effectiveness. One common approach is CoQ10 and BioPerine. The brand Doctor’s Best is one example of that pattern.
BioPerine is a type of black pepper extract and is the same compound used to improve turmeric absorption. There is less evidence that BioPerine will help with CoQ10 absorption, but it is another angle to consider. After all, black pepper does have some health implications too.
Weight Loss Supplements
You’ll also find CoQ10 included in various weight loss supplements, such as Le-Vel Thrive Patches. Such supplements often include various other ingredients that might promote weight loss, like chromium, caffeine, green tea extract and green coffee bean extract.
In most cases, the evidence for individual ingredients is extremely limited.
Such products are also a bad choice for CoQ10. Many use a proprietary formula and you often don't know how much CoQ10 you’re getting. The dose may be very low indeed. You also don’t know whether the other ingredients will lead to side effects.
Whenever possible, it’s best to stick to a basic CoQ10 supplement. This makes it easier to see what benefits you’re getting and means you can be confident about the dose.
Dose, Side Effects and Related Areas
Standard doses range anywhere from 90 mg to 200 mg (and sometimes higher). CoQ10 is generally safe and even higher doses seem to cause no significant risk (33).
However, dose information is limited. Studies have varied considerably in the doses that they’ve used. Most recommendations also focus on health benefits, not weight loss.
That being said, 100 mg is probably a safe place to start. You can always change your dose over time, based on how your body responds.
Other Things to Consider:
CoQ10 is fat soluble and is best absorbed when consumed with food (34).
Our bodies don’t store CoQ10 well, so it’s important to supplement regularly.
Some people recommend the ubiquinol version of CoQ10 for the best benefits (rather than ubiquinone). But, as Dr. Sinatra points out, there isn't much evidence to support this claim. Our bodies can readily convert from one form to the other.
The ubiquinone version is often less expensive as well. However, if you're taking this angle, focus on a liquid capsule, not a powder-filled one.
CoQ10 Side Effects
CoQ10 is considered safe as a supplement. But, any supplement has some side effect risk. Mayo Clinic has details about what you can expect, with minor side effects including nausea, headaches and loss of appetite.
Such side effects are rare and most people won’t experience any of them. You can also split your dose across the day. This helps lower the risk of side effects.
CoQ10 also doesn’t react with many medications.
The most significant interaction is with anticoagulants, including warfarin. If you’re on any blood-thinning medication, you should talk to your doctor before using CoQ10. This is also a good general rule if you’re on medication or have a significant health condition.
CoQ10 won’t have dramatic weight loss impacts – no supplement will do that. The compound mightn’t even have any effects at all.
At present, the research is still very limited. There is some suggestion that CoQ10 will help you lose weight. But honestly, we just don’t know. Research shows more support for overall health benefits. Even so, there are relatively few studies conducted for each health outcome.
This means you need to decide whether or not CoQ10 is the right fit for you. It is generally considered safe, potentially offers health benefits and could even impact weight loss. But, it is also expensive and might do nothing at all.
Kurtis Frank over at Examine.com suggests that CoQ10 is generally beneficial, with a range of potential advantages. But, like us, he recommends that people make decisions based on their own needs.
The one exception is people on statin medications. Statins do decrease CoQ10 levels - to the point that you can end up deficient in CoQ10. For anyone in this situation, CoQ10 supplementation may be critical.
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