What Is CoQ10? CoQ10 stands for Coenzyme Q10, which is an antioxidant that promotes a healthy cardiovascular system as well as fight the effects of aging. Coenzyme Q10 is naturally produced by the body, but its production usually declines as people age.

Low levels of CoQ10 in the body are often associated with the negative effects of free radicals (1). The good news is that CoQ10 is available in foods and dietary supplements, which can be conveniently taken. Other conditions that are associated with low CoQ10 levels include (2):

  • Diabetes*
  • Heart disease*
  • Muscle problems*
  • Fibromyalgia*
  • Cognitive decline*

Due to the antioxidant properties of CoQ10, has become one of the most in demand supplements all over the world.

How Does CoQ10 Work?

For the body to properly function, energy is required. To sustain sufficient energy levels, mitochondria, which are tiny organelles within the cells take fat along with other nutrients and convert them into sources of energy that the body can use. Coenzyme Q10 is required in this conversion process.

Aside from producing enough cellular energy, CoQ10 also has the ability to fight the harmful effects of free radicals and enhance the absorption of essential nutrients since it is a potent antioxidant. It also promotes proper food digestion.

Moreover, it helps boost the effects of antioxidants and vitamins in the body as well as help in the recycling of vitamins C and E.

Studies also show that CoQ10 may help slow down the progression of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease since it helps prevent physical and cognitive decline (3, 4).

Is it necessary to take CoQ10 supplements?

Research studies gathered by the Oregon State University suggest that CoQ10 supplementation along with dietary intake can help prevent a deficiency of this coenzyme in healthy individuals, although the production of CoQ10 notably decreases as people age (5).

During the aging process, the body becomes unable to convert CoQ10 into ubiquinol, which is a more advanced form of CoQ10. A deficiency in CoQ10 commonly develops when people reach the age of 40 and above, especially those who are taking medications that reduce cholesterol levels in the blood, such as statins.

People who have congestive heart failure, cancer, or diabetes are also found to be low in coenzyme Q10 in their plasma.

In rare cases, a person may have a genetic disorder called primary coenzyme Q10 deficiency, which hinders the body to properly produce CoQ10. A person with this disorder may require CoQ10 supplementation to help reverse the symptoms.

Since CoQ10 naturally declines with age, people may benefit from adding CoQ10 into their diets through food or CoQ10 supplements.

Top Foods with High CoQ10 Content

Aside from supplements, coenzyme Q10 can be naturally acquired through our diet. Foods that contain CoQ10 include fish, animal organs (kidney and liver), and whole grains.

Excellent sources of coenzyme Q10 are chicken, meat, and fish. For vegetarians, they can get their CoQ10 from certain vegetables, nuts, beans, dairy products, and eggs (6). Other foods rich in coenzyme Q10 include:

  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli and broccoli sprouts
  • Parsley
  • Sweet potato
  • Pistachio
  • Hazelnuts
  • Walnuts
  • Soybeans
  • Sesame seeds
  • Butter
  • Swiss cheese
  • Milk
  • Egg yolks
  • Beef (grass-fed)
  • Chicken (free-range)
  • Herring
  • Mackerel
  • Tuna
  • Avocado
  • Strawberries
  • Grapefruit
  • Oranges
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Rapeseed oil
  • Peanut oil

Side Effects of CoQ10

Coenzyme Q10 has been used for many years in the medical field without any adverse side effects. However, few cases have reported rare side effects of CoQ10, which include:

  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

Unless otherwise instructed by your doctor, make sure to follow the correct dosage as indicated in your CoQ10 supplement.

There is still no substantial evidence that CoQ10 supplements are safe to take by pregnant and breastfeeding women, so it would probably be best to avoid this supplement during pregnancy and lactation.

Make sure that you check with your healthcare provider if you are taking medications that lower cholesterol levels, such as statins since CoQ10 tends to affect the effectiveness of these medications.

Final Thoughts

Whether CoQ10 is consumed through foods or supplements, this coenzyme could provide a number of health benefits.

It possesses properties that can help in cellular preservation, including in the treatment and prevention of serious medical conditions. Since the production of CoQ10 declines with age, most adults could probably benefit from taking it.

References

  1. 1. Catarina M. Quinzii, Luis C. López, Robert W. Gilkerson, Beatriz Dorado, Jorida Coku, Ali B. Naini, Clotilde Lagier-Tourenne, Markus Schuelke, Leonardo Salviati, Rosalba Carrozzo, Filippo Santorelli, Shamima Rahman, Meriem Tazir, Michel Koenig, Salvatore DiMauro, and Michio Hirano. Reactive oxygen species, oxidative stress, and cell death correlate with level of CoQ10 deficiency. The FASEB Journal. (2010)
  2. Garrido-Maraver J, et al. Clinical applications of coenzyme Q10. Front Biosci (Landmark Ed). (2014)
  3. Shults CW, et al. Effects of coenzyme Q10 in early Parkinson disease: evidence of slowing of the functional decline. Arch Neurol. (2002)
  4. Wadsworth TL, et al. Evaluation of coenzyme Q as an antioxidant strategy for Alzheimer’s disease. J Alzheimers Dis. (2008)
  5. Higdon J, et al. Coenzyme Q10. Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University. (2003-2018)
  6. Kamei M, et al. The distribution and content of ubiquinone in foods. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. (1986)