What is CoQ10?

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  • Written By: Karyn Maier
  • Edited By: Jay Garcia
  • Images By: Joshua Resnick, Anja Disseldorp, Peterjunaidy
  • Last Modified Date: 29 January 2020
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CoQ10, or coenzyme Q10, is a compound that occurs naturally in the human body. In fact, it is necessary to produce adenosine-5-triphosphate, the primary source of fuel used by the mitochondria of every cell for energy and to manufacture proteins. CoQ10 is also found in abundance in organs that require the most energy to function, such as the liver and heart. For this reason, it is available from certain dietary sources, such as fish and organ meats.

CoQ10 is known to possess antioxidant properties, meaning that it may prevent DNA mutation and cellular damage by neutralizing free radicals. As such, CoQ10 has become a popular dietary supplement that may reputedly help to prevent or treat a variety of health ailments. In addition, CoQ10 is credited with increasing energy and stamina, as well as providing enhanced immunity.


CoQ10 is often recommended to help compensate for a deficiency of this compound due to metabolic and mitochondrial disorders, such as Kearns-Sayre syndrome. In fact, supplementation is also appropriate for the elderly, who also typically produce low levels of this substance. In addition, CoQ10 is sometimes suggested to help manage secondary symptoms associated with diabetes, such as poor glucose metabolism, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and heart disease. CoQ10 is also recommended to help prevent cardiomyopathy, or damage to the heart from chemotherapy drugs such as athracyclin or adriamycin. It is also frequently given to support recovery after undergoing heart surgery such as a coronary artery bypass graft.

There is increasing evidence that CoQ10 may play an important role in preventing heart disease. Numerous studies have demonstrated the compound’s ability to improve cellular energy production and the circulation of blood flow in patients suffering from congestive heart failure, including those recovering from recent heart attacks. Researchers attribute this benefit to the antioxidant action of CoQ10, in addition to its apparent ability to deter the formation of blood clots.

There is also evidence to suggest that CoQ10 may help to prevent or treat several age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, macular degeneration, and Parkinson’s disease. In addition, studies involving women with breast cancer indicate that CoQ10 supplementation in combination with other antioxidants (i.e., vitamins C, E, and selenium) and essential fatty acids may reduce the size of tumors. In men, CoQ10 supplementation seems to trigger improved fertility by increasing sperm count. Other therapeutic uses for this compound currently being evaluated include the potential treatment of HIV/AIDS, muscular dystrophy, chronic fatigue, migraines, kidney disease, asthma, and prostate cancer.

Known side effects from CoQ10 supplementation are generally mild and most commonly include nausea, diarrhea, and heartburn. Allergic reactions have also been reported, although they are rare. However, CoQ10 may interfere with other medications. For instance, it may reduce the effectiveness of blood-thinning drugs and beta-blockers such as warfarin and timolol respectively. Therefore, if you are taking these or any other medications, it is important to consult with your health care provider before supplementing with CoQ10.


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