What is it?
Coenzyme Q10 is a vitamin-like substance found throughout the body, but especially in the heart, liver, kidney, and pancreas. It is eaten in small amounts in meats and seafood. Coenzyme Q10 can also be made in a laboratory.
Coenzyme Q10 is most commonly used for conditions that affect the heart such as heart failure, chest pain, and high blood pressure. It is also used for preventing migraine headache, Parkinson’s disease, and many other conditions.
Coenzyme Q10 was first identified in 1957. The “Q10” refers to the chemical make-up of the substance.
Natural Medicines rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
The effectiveness ratings for Coenzyme Q10 are as follows:
Likely Effective for…
- Coenzyme Q10 deficiency. Taking coenzyme Q10 by mouth seems to improve symptoms of coenzyme Q10 deficiency. This is a very rare condition. The symptoms include weakness, fatigue, and seizures.
- Disorders that limit energy production in the cells of the body (mitochondrial disorders). Taking coenzyme Q10 by mouth seems to reduce symptoms of mitochondrial disorders. However, improvement in symptoms is slow. Some people have to take coenzyme Q10 for 6 months to get the most benefit.
Possibly Effective for…
- Age-related vision loss (age-related macular degeneration). Taking a specific product containing coenzyme Q-10, acetyl-L-carnitine, and omega-3 fatty acids (Phototrop) by mouth seems to improve vision in people with age-related vision loss.
- Preventing death due to heart problems. Taking coenzyme Q10 along with selenium might reduce the chance of heart-related death in the elderly, especially those with low selenium levels. This research was done in Sweden. It is not known if the same benefit might be seen in people living in other countries. It is also not known if the benefit is from selenium or coenzyme Q10.
- Heart failure. Early research found that heart failure might be linked with low coenzyme Q10 levels. Some research shows that taking coenzyme Q10 might help reduce some symptoms of heart failure. Coenzyme Q10 might also reduce the chances of death or hospitalization related to heart failure.
- Nerve damage caused by diabetes (diabetic neuropathy). Research shows that taking coenzyme Q-10 improves nerve damage and nerve pain in people with nerve damage caused by diabetes.
- Fibromyalgia. Some research shows that taking coenzyme Q10 by mouth reduces pain , tenderness, fatigue , and sleep issues in people with fibromyalgia.
- HIV/AIDS. Taking coenzyme Q10 by mouth seems to improve immune function in people with HIV/AIDS.
- An inherited neurological disorder called Huntington’s disease. Ubiquinol, an altered form of coenzyme Q10, has been granted “Orphan Drug Status” by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This gives the maker of Ubiquinol some financial incentives to study its effectiveness for Huntington’s, a condition that is so rare (affecting less than 200,000 individuals) that pharmaceutical companies might not otherwise invest in developing a drug for it. However, taking coenzyme Q10 by mouth in doses of 600 mg daily or less does not seem to be effective for slowing the progression of Huntington’s disease.
- Blood vessel complications caused by heart bypass surgery. Reduced blood supply during heart or blood vessel surgery can deprive tissue of oxygen. When blood supply returns to this tissue, the tissue can become damaged. There is some evidence that taking coenzyme Q10 by mouth for at least one week before heart bypass surgery or blood vessel surgery might help to reduce tissue damage. However, not all research agrees with this finding.
- A specific type of high blood pressure. Taking coenzyme Q10 by mouth daily appears to lower systolic blood pressure (the top number) in some people with high systolic blood pressure but normal diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number).
- Migraine headache. Taking coenzyme Q10 by mouth seems to help prevent migraine headaches. Studies show it can decrease the frequency of headaches by about 30% and the number of days with headache-related nausea by about 45% in adults. More than half of patients taking coenzyme Q10 experience a 50% decrease in the number of headache days per month. Taking coenzyme Q10 also appears to reduce migraine frequency in children who have low levels of coenzyme Q10. It can take up to 3 months for significant benefit. It may take 3 months of treatment to see any benefit.
- Multiple sclerosis (MS). Taking coenzyme Q10 by mouth seems to reduce tiredness and low mood in people with MS.
- A muscle disorder called muscular dystrophy. Taking coenzyme Q10 by mouth seems to improve physical performance in some people with muscular dystrophy.
- Heart attack. When started within 72 hours of a heart attack and taken for one year, coenzyme Q10 appears to lower the risk of heart-related events, including another heart attack.
- Painful erection in men (Peyronie’s disease). Research shows that taking coenzyme Q10 improves erectile function in men with painful erections.
Possibly Ineffective for…
- Alzheimer’s disease. Taking coenzyme Q10 does not seem to improve mental function in people with Alzheimer’s disease.
- Neurodegenerative disease called ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Research shows that taking coenzyme Q10 does not slow the progression of ALS.
- Fatigue due to cancer drugs. Taking coenzyme Q10 does not seem to reduce – fatigue in people being treated for breast cancer.
- Cocaine dependence. Taking a combination of coenzyme Q10 and L-carnitine does not reduce cocaine use.
- Diabetes. Research has found that taking coenzyme Q10 does not lower blood sugar levels in people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
- Symptoms affecting polio survivors (post-polio syndrome). Research shows that taking coenzyme Q10 does not improve muscle strength , muscle function, or fatigue in people with post-polio syndrome.
Likely Ineffective for…
- Athletic performance. Taking coenzyme Q10 by mouth, alone or with other ingredients, does not improve athletic performance in athletes or non-athletes.
- An inherited neurological disorder called Huntington’s disease. Ubiquinol, a form of coenzyme Q10, has been granted “Orphan Drug Status” by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This gives the maker of Ubiquinol some financial incentives to study its effectiveness for Huntington’s, a condition that is so rare (affecting less than 200,000 individuals) that pharmaceutical companies might not otherwise invest in developing a drug for it. However, one large research study shows that taking coenzyme Q10 in large doses (2.4 grams daily) for up to 5 years does not stop Huntington’s disease symptoms from getting worse.
Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for…
- Chest pain (angina). Some early research suggests that taking coenzyme Q10 by mouth might reduce chest pain and improve exercise ability in people with angina.
- Heart toxicity caused by cancer drugs. Early research suggests that taking coenzyme Q10 by mouth might protect the heart in children aged 3-12 years who are being treated with a class of drugs called anthracyclines. However, results from larger studies are inconsistent.
- Autism. Early research shows that taking a specific form of coenzyme Q10 called ubiquinol improves autism symptoms in autism patients aged 3-6 years according to parent assessment. Higher quality studies are needed to confirm these results.
- Mental health disorder of extreme mood swings (bipolar disorder). Early research shows that taking coenzyme Q10 improve symptoms of depression in people over 55 years of age with bipolar disorder.
- Breast cancer. Some research in Chinese women suggests that having low blood levels of coenzyme Q10 is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. Also, early research shows that taking coenzyme Q10 by mouth might be helpful in advanced breast cancer when used along with surgery and conventional treatment plus other antioxidants and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Higher quality studies are needed to confirm these results.
- Cancer. Low coenzyme Q10 levels seem to be linked with an increased risk of skin cancer. Early research suggests that taking coenzyme Q10 along with other antioxidants increases survival time by 40% in patients with terminal cancer. Higher quality studies are needed to confirm these results.
- Brain damage that affects muscle movement (cerebellar ataxia). Early research suggests that taking coenzyme Q10 by mouth can improve posture and muscle function in people with cerebellar ataxia and low coenzyme Q10 levels. However, it doesn’t seem to benefit people with normal coenzyme Q10 levels.
- Lung disease called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Early research suggests that taking coenzyme Q10 does not improve lung function or exercise performance in people with COPD.
- Eye damage (corneal ulceration). Early research suggests that using coenzyme Q10 eye drops might make corneal ulcers heal faster.
- Cyclic vomiting syndrome. Early research suggests that taking coenzyme Q10 might work as well as prescription medications used to treat cyclic vomiting syndrome.
- Weakened and enlarged heart (dilated cardiomyopathy). Early research suggests that taking coenzyme Q10 improves heart function in children with dilated cardiomyopathy.
- Dry mouth. Early research suggests that taking an altered form of coenzyme Q10 called ubiquinol improves dry mouth.
- Rare inherited disease that causes nerve damage (Friedreich’s ataxia). Some early research shows that taking coenzyme Q10 plus vitamin E improves heart function but not posture or manner of walking in in people with Friedreich’s ataxia. However, other early research suggests that taking vitamin E together with coenzyme Q10 helps prevent decline in coordination, posture, and movement in people with Friedreich’s ataxia compared to no treatment. Coenzyme Q10 seems to work best in patients with low coenzyme Q10 levels at baseline.
- Hearing loss. Some research suggests that taking a specific coenzyme Q10 product (Q-TER) by mouth improves hearing in people with age-related hearing loss. However, combining coenzyme Q10 with conventional steroid treatments does not improve hearing more than steroid treatment alone in people with sudden deafness. Also, it doesn’t appear to improve hearing in people with noise-induced hearing loss.
- Hepatitis C. Research shows that taking coenzyme Q-10 does not improve liver function in people with hepatitis C who are not responding to conventional treatment.
- High blood pressure. Some research shows that taking coenzyme Q10 by itself or along with other medications for treating high blood pressure helps lowers blood pressure in people with high blood pressure. However, not all research has shown benefit. Coenzyme Q10 might only benefit people with high blood pressure who also have diabetes or low blood levels of coenzyme Q10 before treatment.
- A condition of an enlarged heart called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Taking coenzyme Q-10 by mouth seems to decrease the thickness of the heart wall and decrease symptoms of shortness of breath and fatigue in people with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
- Liver disease not caused by alcohol. Early research shows that taking coenzyme Q10 can improve markers of liver injury and disease severity in people with liver disease not caused by alcohol.
- Male infertility. There is some early evidence that taking coenzyme Q10 or an altered form of coenzyme Q10 called ubiquinol by mouth can improve the movement and density of sperm in men with certain types of infertility. It appears that these benefits require at least 6 months of treatment. However, these improvements may not increase pregnancy rate.
- Inherited diabetes and deafness. Early research suggests that taking coenzyme Q10 by mouth might prevent the progression of a rare form of diabetes that is maternally inherited.
- Parkinson’s disease. Some research shows that taking coenzyme Q10 by itself or along with other supplements might slow mental decline in people with early-stage Parkinson’s disease. At least 16 months of treatment and doses above 600 mg daily appear to be needed to achieve these benefits. However, not all data has been positive. Some research shows that coenzyme Q10 does not benefit people with early or mid-stage Parkinson’s disease.
- Procedure to improve blood flow to the heart (percutaneous coronary intervention or PCI). Early research shows that taking one dose of coenzyme Q10 2 hours before a PCI procedure does not reduce the risk of heart muscle injury. It also doesn’t seem to prevent serious heart-related events from occurring during the month after the procedure.
- Gum disease. Applying coenzyme Q10 to the gums is not effective for treating gum disease. However, there is some early evidence that taking coenzyme Q10 by mouth might be helpful in treating gum disease.
- Rare genetic disorder called Prader-Willi syndrome. Early research suggests that administering coenzyme Q10 improves mental and physical development in children with Prader- Willi syndrome. However, it is not clear if these improvements are due to the coenzyme Q10 or an age-related phenomenon.
- High cholesterol. It’s unclear if coenzyme Q10 reduces cholesterol levels. One study shows it might lower triglycerides and LDL (or “bad” cholesterol) by a small amount. Other studies show no benefit of taking coenzyme Q10 for lowering total cholesterol or LDL or increasing HDL (or “good” cholesterol) levels. It may take at least 3 months to see any benefit.
- An ovary disorder known as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). . Early research shows that taking coenzyme Q10 can reduce hair loss and acne in women with PCOS. It might also reduce blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels.
- High blood pressure during pregnancy (pre-eclampsia). Pre-eclampsia is a condition that some women develop during pregnancy. Some research shows that women who are at risk have a lower chance of developing the condition if they take coenzyme Q10 from week 20 of pregnancy until the baby is delivered.
- Kidney failure. Some early research suggests that taking coenzyme Q10 improves kidney function in people with end-stage kidney disease. However, other research shows that taking coenzyme Q10 does not improve kidney function.
- Blood infection called “sepsis”. Early research shows that taking a specific form of coenzyme Q10 called ubiquinol for 7 days does not prevent death or reduce time in the hospital related to an infection in the blood.
- A muscle condition called “statin-induced myopathy.” Statins, a class of drugs used to lower cholesterol, can sometimes cause muscle pain. There is some evidence that taking coenzyme Q10 might reduce this pain. However, not all evidence has been positive.
- Hair loss related to use of the warfarin. There is some early evidence that taking coenzyme Q10 might be helpful for preventing hair loss caused by the blood-thinning drug, warfarin.
- Wrinkled skin. Early evidence suggests that applying a coenzyme Q10 cream to the skin improves wrinkled skin.
- Dry eye.
- Eye surgery.
- Inflammation of the heart (myocarditis).
- Prostate cancer.
- Lyme disease.
- Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate coenzyme Q10 for these uses.
Coenzyme Q10 is an important vitamin-like substance required for the proper function of many organs and chemical reactions in the body. It helps provide energy to cells. Coenzyme Q10 also seems to have antioxidant activity. People with certain diseases, such as heart failure, high blood pressure, gum disease, Parkinson’s disease, blood infections, certain diseases of the muscles, and HIV infection, might have lower levels of coenzyme Q10.
Coenzyme Q10 is LIKELY SAFE for most adults when taken by mouth or when applied directly to the gums. While most people tolerate coenzyme Q10 well, it can cause some mild side effects including stomach upset, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. It can cause allergic skin rashes in some people. It also might lower blood pressure, so check your blood pressure carefully if you have very low blood pressure. Dividing the total daily dose by taking smaller amounts 2 or 3 times a day instead of a large amount all at once can help reduce side effects.
Coenzyme Q10 is POSSIBLY SAFE for children when taken by mouth. However, coenzyme Q-10 should not be used in children without medical supervision.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Coenzyme Q10 is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth appropriately during pregnancy. Coenzyme Q10 has been used safely when taken twice daily starting at 20 weeks until delivery. Not enough is known about the use of coenzyme Q10 during breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Chemotherapy: People undergoing chemotherapy with a class of drugs called alkylating agents should use coenzyme Q10 with caution. There is some concern that coenzyme Q10 might lower the effectiveness of these drugs. Some alkylating agents include busulfan, carboplatin, cisplatin, cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan), dacarbazine, thiotepa, and many others.
High blood pressure or low blood pressure: Coenzyme Q10 might lower blood pressure. It can increase the effects of medications used to lower blood pressure. Discuss your use of coenzyme Q10 with your healthcare provider if you have blood pressure problems.
Smoking: Cigarette smoking depletes the amount of coenzyme Q10 stored by the body.
Surgery: Coenzyme Q10 might interfere with blood pressure control during and after surgery. Stop using coenzyme Q10 at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Interaction Rating = Minor Be watchful with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.
Doxorubicin is a chemotherapy medication used to treat different types of cancer. Doxorubicin might increase levels of coenzyme Q10 in the body. It is too soon to know if this interaction is important.
Medications for cancer (Alkylating agents)
Interaction Rating = Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.
Coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant. There is some concern that antioxidants might decrease the effectiveness of some medications used for cancers. But it is too soon to know if the interaction occurs. Some medications for cancer include busulfan, carboplatin, cisplatin, cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan), dacarbazine, thiotepa, and many others.
Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs)
Interaction Rating = Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.
Coenzyme Q10 seems to decrease blood pressure. Taking coenzyme Q10 along with medications for high blood pressure might cause your blood pressure to go too low.
Some medications for high blood pressure include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), diltiazem (Cardizem), Amlodipine (Norvasc), hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDIURIL), furosemide (Lasix), and many others.
Interaction Rating = Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.
Warfarin (Coumadin) is used to slow blood clotting while coenzyme Q10 might increase blood clotting. By helping the blood clot, coenzyme Q10 might decrease the effectiveness of warfarin (Coumadin) and increase the risk of dangerous clots. Be sure to have your blood checked regularly. The dose of your warfarin (Coumadin) might need to be changed.
Taking coenzyme Q10 with acacia gum seems to increase the body’s absorption of coenzyme Q-10. In theory, this might increase the effects and side effects of coenzyme Q10.
Coenzyme Q10 can increase blood levels of beta-carotene. In theory, this might increase the effects and side effects of beta-carotene.
Herbs and supplements that lower blood pressure
Coenzyme Q10 might decrease blood pressure. Combining coenzyme Q10 with other herbs and supplements with that lower blood pressure might make blood pressure go too low. Some of these herbs and supplements include andrographis, casein peptides, cat’s claw, fish oil, L-arginine, lycium, stinging nettle, theanine, and others.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Combining coenzyme Q10 with omega-3 fatty acids can reduce blood levels of coenzyme Q10. In theory, this might reduce the effects of coenzyme Q10.
Red yeast might reduce coenzyme Q10 levels. In theory, this might reduce the effects of coenzyme Q10.
Coenzyme Q10 can increase blood levels of vitamin A. In theory, this might increase the effects and side effects of vitamin A.
Coenzyme Q10 can increase blood levels of vitamin C. In theory, this might increase the effects and side effects of vitamin C.
Coenzyme Q10 can increase blood levels of vitamin E. In theory, this might increase the effects and side effects of vitamin E.
Coenzyme Q10 can have effects in the body that are similar to vitamin K, including inhibiting the effects of blood thinning drugs such as warfarin. Taking coenzyme Q10 with vitamin K might increase the risk of blood clotting in people taking blood thinning drugs.
There are no known interactions with foods.
Co Q10, Co Q-10, Coenzima Q-10, Co-Enzyme 10, Coenzyme Q 10, Coenzyme Q10, Co-Enzyme Q10, Co-Enzyme Q-10, Co-Q 10, CoQ10, Co-Q10, CoQ-10, Ubidecarenone, Ubidécarénone, Ubiquinone-10.
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