The Benefits & Side Effects of CoQ10

CoQ10 sustains your energy.
CoQ10 sustains your energy. (Image: Ridofranz/iStock/Getty Images)

Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, is so important that every cell in your body produces the amount it needs rather than depending on dietary sources. Without CoQ10, you can’t produce the energy that sustains your metabolism and keeps you healthy. While researchers continue to explore CoQ10's potential to treat neurodegenerative disorders, cancer and diabetes, existing studies show it may help prevent heart disease and improve muscle performance.

Roles and Sources of CoQ10

CoQ10 works as an antioxidant in the membranes that surround cells. It’s also used inside every cell for converting sugar and fats into energy. Even though you don’t have to include it in your diet, you can get CoQ10 from a variety of foods. The best sources are meat, poultry and fish, reports the Linus Pauling Institute. Other good choices include nuts, soybean oil and canola oil. You'll also get a smaller amount from fruits, vegetables, dairy products and eggs. If you buy CoQ10 supplements, look for an oil-based soft gel rather than tablets because your body may absorb the oil-based form better, reports NYU Langone Medical Center.

Promotes Cardiovascular Health

Cardiovascular disease is associated with low levels of CoQ10, so researchers have studied its potential to treat or prevent heart disease. When patients with moderate to severe heart disease took CoQ10 supplements together with their usual medical treatment, they had fewer adverse cardiovascular events compared to those who did not take supplements, reported the “Journal of the American College of Cardiology” in September 2014. It may also help lower blood pressure in patients diagnosed with hypertension, according to a review of 12 clinical trials published in the "Journal of Human Hypertension” in April 2007.

Boosts Muscle Performance

Taking supplements increases the amount of CoQ10 in muscles, which may improve muscle performance. When sedentary men took CoQ10 and participated in bike pedaling, their muscle power increased. The researchers concluded that CoQ10 may boost performance during repeated bouts of exercise, according to their report in the January 2010 issue of the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.” Treatment with CoQ10 also improved muscle performance in older athletes taking cholesterol-lowering medications, according to “Physician and Sports Medicine” in November 2012.

Potential Side Effects

Even though CoQ10 does not cause serious side effects in most people, if you have heart disease, you should not take supplements except under the supervision of your physician. You should also avoid CoQ10 if you take anticoagulant medications such as warfarin because it may affect the medicine’s effectiveness. It can interfere with other drugs, so consult your health care provider before taking supplements if you take any prescription medications. CoQ10 may also lower blood sugar levels; while this could theoretically be a benefit if you have diabetes, it may also cause dangerously low levels of blood sugar.

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