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Coenzyme Q-10

Other name(s):

Co Q-10, Q-10, ubiquinone, ubiquinol

General description

Coenzyme Q-10 is a fat-soluble quinone. It’s similar to vitamins E and K. Since it was first found 40 years ago, research has been ongoing. It’s said to have benefits on the heart.

Coenzyme Q-10 is synthesized by cells throughout the body. This is why it’s also named ubiquinone. Ubi is used because it’s ubiquitous throughout the body. Quinone is used because it’s chemically a quinone with a side chain.

Q-10 acts as a catalyst in the respiratory chain. This chain makes energy from carbohydrates. It’s abundant in cell membranes, especially in the mitochondria.

Coenzyme Q-10 is a powerful antioxidant by itself. It’s also powerful when used with vitamin E.

Levels of coenzyme Q-10 decrease with age. They’re also low in people with heart disease. The amount of coenzyme Q-10 in the body peaks around age 20 and then decreases. Intense exercise also makes coenzyme Q-10 turn over faster. This lowers its levels. 

Organ meats are god sources of coenzyme Q-10. These include the heart, lung, kidney, spleen, liver, pancreas, and adrenals.

Medically valid uses

Coenzyme Q-10 has been studied for its role in congestive heart failure (CHF). It’s also been studied to see how it impacts heart disease. In studies outside of the U.S., coenzyme Q-10 has become part of the standard treatment of CHF and heart disease. This is because it seems to have a helpful effect. It doesn’t appear to cause any serious side effects.

Unsubstantiated claims

Please note that this section reports on claims that have not yet been substantiated through scientific studies.

Coenzyme Q-10 is claimed to help prevent LDL oxidation. This reduces the risk of atherosclerosis and re-perfusion injury after open-heart surgery. It also lowers the risk of liver injury from cholesterol-lowering medicines (lovastatin). Q-10 has also been used to boost exercise tolerance and athletic performance. It may also help blood sugar control in people with diabetes. It may also boost the immune system to fight disease (when used alone or with vitamin B-6). It may also help increase fat metabolism.

Some claims say that Q-10 may also treat periodontal diseases and gingivitis. It may also aid in breast cancer, chronic stable angina, mitral valve prolapse, heart rate issues. It may also help with high blood pressure (hypertension), Parkinson's disease, and muscular dystrophy.

Dosing format

Supplements range from 10–300 mg. There is no set dose. However, doses of 30–100 mg per day have been suggested. Higher doses may be used in some cases.

You should take this supplement with a meal that contains fat. This helps your body absorb it better. Coenzyme Q-10 isn’t absorbed well from the gastrointestinal tract.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should talk to their healthcare providers before taking any supplements.

Side effects, toxicity, and interactions

Doses of up to 600 mg per day for every kg of body weight do not show toxicity. In some cases, minor side effects can happen. These can include:

  • Burning feeling in your mouth

  • Loss of appetite

  • Nausea

  • Diarrhea

  • Trouble falling or staying asleep (insomnia)

  • Rashes

  • Dizziness

  • Irritability

  • Fatigue

  • Heartburn

  • Headache

  • Light sensitivity

  • Stomach pain

If you’re taking certain cholesterol medicines, you should take 100 mg per day of coenzyme-10. This includes lovastatin. These medicines block the synthesis of coenzyme Q-10.

Online Medical Reviewer: Poulson, Brittany, RD
Online Medical Reviewer: Wilkins, Joanna, R.D., C.D.
Date Last Reviewed: 8/1/2016