CoQ10 may help support the skin, brain, and lungs, as well as protect against chronic diseases like cancer or diabetes. More research is needed to understand its benefits, however.
Coenzyme Q10, also known as CoQ10, is a compound that helps generate energy in your cells (
Your body produces CoQ10 naturally, but the production tends to decrease with age. Fortunately, you can also get CoQ10 through supplements or foods (
Several conditions may be associated with low levels of CoQ10, including cancer, diabetes, and neurodegenerative disorders. However, it is not clear whether low levels of CoQ10 cause these diseases or result from them. (
Here is all you need to know about CoQ10, including 9 of its potential benefits and important safety information.
CoQ10 is a substance found naturally throughout the body, with the highest levels in the heart, liver, kidney, and pancreas (
One of its primary functions is to help generate energy in your cells. It makes adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is involved in cell energy transfer (
The other crucial role of CoQ10 is to serve as an antioxidant and protect cells against oxidative damage (
Excessive amounts of free radicals lead to oxidative damage, which can interfere with regular cell functioning. This is known to contribute to many health conditions (
Given that ATP is used to carry out all the body’s functions and oxidative damage is destructive to cells, it is not surprising that some chronic diseases have been associated with low levels of CoQ10 (
CoQ10 production decreases as you age. Thus, older people can be deficient in this compound (
Some other possible causes of low CoQ10 levels include (
- genetic defects in CoQ10 synthesis or utilization
- increased demands by tissues as a consequence of disease
- mitochondrial diseases
- oxidative stress due to aging
- side effects of statin treatments
CoQ10 is a substance found throughout the body that acts as an antioxidant and is involved in energy production. Low levels of CoQ10 may be associated with older age, certain medications, genetic defects, nutritional deficiencies, and specific health conditions.
Heart failure is often a consequence of other heart conditions, such as coronary artery disease or high blood pressure, which can cause increased oxidative damage and inflammation of the veins and arteries (
Some research suggests that CoQ10 could improve treatment outcomes for people with heart failure (
For instance, one analysis of seven reviews concluded that CoQ10 could be beneficial for managing heart failure, especially for those unable to tolerate other treatment methods (
Another review of 14 studies found that people with heart failure who took CoQ10 supplements had a decreased risk of dying and a greater improvement in exercise capacity compared to those who took a placebo (
It seems that treatment with CoQ10 could also assist with restoring optimal levels of energy production, reducing oxidative damage, and improving heart function, all of which can aid the treatment of heart failure (
CoQ10 may help decrease oxidative stress and enhance heart function, which could be beneficial for improving treatment outcomes in people with heart failure.
Female fertility decreases with age due to a decline in the number and quality of available eggs (
CoQ10 is directly involved in this process. As you age, CoQ10 production slows, making the body less effective at protecting the eggs from oxidative damage (
Supplementing with CoQ10 seems to help and may even reverse this age-related decline in egg quality and quantity (
Similarly, male sperm is susceptible to oxidative damage, which may result in reduced sperm count, poor sperm quality, and infertility (
Several studies have concluded that supplementing with CoQ10 may improve sperm quality, activity, and concentration by increasing antioxidant protection (
CoQ10 may help prevent oxidative damage, which could help promote both female and male fertility.
Your skin is the largest organ in your body, and it’s widely exposed to damaging agents that contribute to aging (
These agents can be internal or external. Some internal damaging factors include cellular damage and hormonal imbalances, while external factors include environmental agents such as UV rays (19).
Harmful elements can lead to reduced skin moisture and protection from environmental aggressors, as well as the thinning of the layers of the skin (
According to one 2015 study, applying CoQ10 directly to the skin may reduce the damage from internal and external agents by increasing energy production in skin cells and promoting antioxidant protection (
When CoQ10 is applied directly to the skin, it may help reduce oxidative damage caused by UV rays and help decrease the depth of wrinkles, according to human and animal studies (
When applied topically, CoQ10 may protect against damage to the skin, which may help support healthy skin aging.
Abnormal mitochondrial function can lead to increased calcium uptake by the cells, the excessive production of free radicals, and decreased antioxidant protection. This can result in low energy in the brain cells and may contribute to migraine (
Since CoQ10 lives mainly in the mitochondria of the cells, it has been shown it may help improve mitochondrial function and may be beneficial for the treatment of migraine (
One review of five studies found that CoQ10 may effectively reduce the duration and frequency of migraine in children and adults (
Another small study of 80 people found that people taking 100 milligrams (mg) of CoQ10 daily experienced a significant reduction in the frequency, severity, and duration of migraine, with no adverse side effects reported (
Additionally, one 2017 study showed that CoQ10 might help reduce the frequency of headaches and make them shorter and less severe (
Research shows that CoQ10 supplementation may be effective at reducing the frequency, duration, and severity of migraine headaches.
Oxidative stress can affect muscle function and, thus, exercise performance (
Similarly, the abnormal mitochondrial function can reduce muscle energy, making it hard for muscles to contract efficiently and sustain exercise (
CoQ10 may help exercise performance by decreasing oxidative stress in the cells and improving mitochondrial function (
One study found that CoQ10 supplementation may have helped inhibit oxidative stress and markers of muscle and liver damage in adolescent elite swimmers during their competition phase (
Moreover, supplementing with CoQ10 may help reduce fatigue, which could also potentially improve exercise performance (
CoQ10 may help improve exercise performance by supporting mitochondrial function, decreasing oxidative stress, and reducing fatigue.
Oxidative stress can induce cell damage. This can result in metabolic diseases like diabetes (
Abnormal mitochondrial function has also been linked to insulin resistance (
CoQ10 has been suggested to improve insulin sensitivity and regulate blood sugar levels (
One review of 13 studies showed that CoQ10 could reduce fasting blood sugar and hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), a marker of long-term blood sugar control, in people with type 2 diabetes. Moreover, it may also improve certain risk factors for heart disease, including triglyceride and HDL (good) cholesterol levels (
Another study in people with diabetic neuropathy — a type of nerve damage that can occur in people with diabetes — found that taking 100 mg of CoQ10 daily for 12 weeks may have improved HbA1c levels and insulin resistance (
Not only that, but it also may have reduced markers of oxidative stress and harmful compounds, such as advanced glycation end products, compared to a placebo (
CoQ10 could help promote blood sugar control and prevent insulin resistance. It may also decrease oxidative stress and certain risk factors for heart disease in people with diabetes.
Some research suggests that oxidative stress could be involved in the development of cancer (
According to some test-tube studies, CoQ10 could prevent oxidative stress, support immune function, and block the growth of cancer cells (
Interestingly, people with cancer have been shown to have lower levels of CoQ10.
Some studies suggest low levels of CoQ10 may be associated with a higher risk of certain types of cancer in some older studies, including breast and prostate cancer (
Some studies have suggested that supplementing with CoQ10 could reduce markers of inflammation and improve the quality of life in people with breast cancer (
That said, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that CoQ10 has not been shown to be of value as a cancer treatment, so more research needs to be conducted before a definitive claim can be made (
CoQ10 could reduce oxidative stress, which may be involved in cancer development. Though more research is needed, some studies also show that low levels of CoQ10 could be linked to an increased risk of certain types of cancer.
Mitochondria are the main energy generators of brain cells (
Mitochondrial function tends to decrease with age, which can lead to the death of brain cells and contribute to conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s (
Unfortunately, the brain is very susceptible to oxidative damage due to its high fatty acid content and its high demand for oxygen (
This oxidative damage enhances the production of harmful compounds that could affect memory, cognition, and physical functions (
CoQ10 may reduce these harmful compounds, possibly slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, according to some animal studies (
However, more research on humans is needed.
CoQ10 can protect against oxidative damage in the brain, which could potentially protect against cognitive decline. However, more studies in humans are needed.
Of all your organs, your lungs have the most contact with oxygen. This makes them very susceptible to oxidative damage.
Increased oxidative damage in the lungs and poor antioxidant protection, including low levels of CoQ10, can result in lung diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma (
Furthermore, some older studies have found that people with these conditions tend to have lower levels of CoQ10 (
A 2005 study demonstrated that supplementing with CoQ10 may have reduced inflammation in individuals who had asthma, as well as their need for steroid medications to treat it (
Another study found that supplementing with CoQ10 and creatine — a compound found in muscle cells — may have improved functional performance, perception of shortness of breath, and body composition in people with COPD (
CoQ10 could reduce oxidative damage in the lungs, which may benefit respiratory conditions like asthma or COPD.
CoQ10 comes in two different forms — ubiquinol and ubiquinone.
Ubiquinol accounts for 90% of the CoQ10 in the blood and is the most absorbable form. Thus, it’s recommended to choose supplements containing the ubiquinol form (
CoQ10 supplements are available in various doses, ranging from 30 to 600 mg (
Doses of 100–400 mg per day have been used in studies related to heart health, while doses ranging from 600–3,000 mg have been used for treating some neurodegenerative disorders (
However, taking 200 mg twice daily with food is considered the average dosage needed to maintain therapeutic blood levels of CoQ10 for most people (
Because CoQ10 is a fat-soluble compound, its absorption is slow and limited. However, taking CoQ10 supplements with food can help your body absorb it better than taking it without food (
Additionally, some products offer a solubilized form of CoQ10, or a combination of CoQ10 and oils, to improve its absorption (
CoQ10 is well-tolerated and is not associated with any serious side effects. Doses can range from 100–3,000 mg per day, though it’s best to use only as directed.
While you can easily consume CoQ10 as a supplement, it can also be found in some foods.
The following foods contain CoQ10 (
- Organ meats: heart, liver, and kidney
- Some muscle meats: pork, beef, and chicken
- Fatty fish: trout, herring, mackerel, and sardines
- Legumes: soybeans, lentils, and peanuts
- Nuts and seeds: sesame seeds and pistachios
- Oils: soybean and canola oil
In addition to the foods listed above, some types of fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and cereals also contain CoQ10, though in much lower amounts (
CoQ10 is found in many food sources, including meat, fish, poultry, legumes, nuts, seeds, and oils.
While research indicates CoQ10 may have a number of health benefits, definitive claims still cannot be made. Research has not found any serious side effects from supplementing with CoQ10 (
Supplementing with CoQ10 appears to be well tolerated by humans, even when used in doses up to 1,200 mg (
You may experience some insomnia or indigestion, and you should not take it if you are also taking blood thinning medications like Warfarin (Jantoven) and certain cancer medications (
You should speak to your doctor before trying CoQ10 and make sure they are informed about any medications or other supplements you are taking.
CoQ10 is a fat-soluble, vitamin-like compound that seems to have some health benefits.
In particular, research suggests that it may help improve heart health and blood sugar regulation, protect against certain types of cancer, and reduce the frequency of migraine.
It may also reduce oxidative damage that leads to muscle fatigue, skin damage, and brain and lung diseases. However, more research is necessary to determine whether CoQ10 can help in these areas.
CoQ10 can be found as a supplement that seems well tolerated, but you should ask your doctor before trying it. You can also increase your intake through various food sources, including organ and muscle meats, oils, nuts, seeds, and legumes.