Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an antioxidant that your body already produces naturally, found in many foods, and is available in supplements. Levels of CoQ10 decrease as we age. CoQ10 is found in the mitochondria, which are in charge of producing energy and protecting cells from damage. There are two forms, Ubiquinol which is the active antioxidant form, and ubiquinone, which is the oxidized form. When looking for a supplement you want the Ubiquinol! CoQ10 is found in meat, fish, and whole grains but is highest in Chicken hearts. Although some like to kebab hearts, not my favorite way to up my intake of anything.
Several studies have shown CoQ10 to be an effective supplement. The American College of Cardiology published a study where the conclusion states, ” Long-term CoQ10 treatment of patients with chronic HF (Heart Failure) is safe, improves symptoms, and reduces major adverse cardiovascular events”. Several studies have shown that CoQ10 may help alleviate migraine headaches and may reduce blood pressure. As this article explains, migraines can actually manifest in more ways than just that splitting headache! Recent research has also shown it may help people in the early stages of Parkinson‘s.
One of the most common uses, and often recommended by cardiologists, is for people taking statins. Research has found that statins decrease CoQ10 as well as cholesterol. Some people taking statins have the adverse effect of myopathy (muscle pain or weakness) which is thought to occur because of mitochondrial dysfunction. Several studies have shown taking CoQ10 reduces statin related myopathy as well as potentially having the effect of bringing CoQ10 levels back to normal which may have a preventative effect on heart disease.
In a study in 1961, scientists found that people with cancer had little CoQ10 in their blood. They found low CoQ10 blood levels in people with myeloma, lymphoma, and cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, pancreas, colon, kidney, and head and neck. Some research has suggested that CoQ10 helps the immune system and may be useful as a secondary treatment for cancer. But the National Cancer Institute (NCI) rates the strength of the evidence for CoQ10 and cancer as weak. (WebMD)
While CoQ10 is naturally occurring in the body taking high doses may cause some side effects in some people. Some reports of mild insomnia have been reported with higher than 200mg/daily. CoQ10 has also been found to interact with and reduce the effectiveness of the drug Warfarin (Coumadin) which is an anticoagulant. It can also decrease insulin requirements in people with diabetes. As with any supplement, if you are taking other medications it is important to talk to your doctor to determine if they will be safe and healthful.