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What is CoQ10 and How Can It Help Me?

In the simplest terms, Coenzyme Q10 (or CoQ10, because that can be a mouthful) is a compound made by your body whose primary job is to help your body make adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is necessary for energy production.

CoQ10 is also a powerful antioxidant, which fights off free radicals, or molecules that can cause chronic inflammation. Antioxidants play a significant role in preventing this type of inflammation, which can reduce the risk of certain diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, says Natalie Rizzo, a registered dietitian in New York City.

CoQ10 Benefits

Generally speaking, much of the research looking at the benefits of CoQ10 has been inconclusive or conducted on very small sample sizes. [1]

That said, antioxidants, like CoQ10, have been linked to a host of health benefits.

CoQ10 May Help Your Heart

CoQ10 has been linked to a reduced risk of some complications of heart surgery, when combined with other nutrients. [2]

While CoQ10 levels have been found to be lower in people with heart disease, when it comes to preventing heart disease and heart failure, results are inconclusive, mixed, at best. [1, 2]

A 2014 study published in JACC Heart Failure found that people with heart failure who were treated with CoQ10 for two years saw improved symptoms and had a reduced risk of dying from heart problems. [3]

CoQ10 Could Be Effective in Preventing Migraines

Research is limited, but the American Academy of Neurology and the American Headache Society suggest that CoQ10 could be effective in preventing migraines. A small open-label trial—meaning there was no placebo control group—found that people who suffered from migraine saw fewer attacks while taking CoQ10. [4]

A 2005 study of 42 patients reported that those taking CoQ10 had fewer migraines, fewer headache days, and fewer days with nausea compared to those who took a placebo. [5]

CoQ10 May Play a Role in Preventing Cancer

Like all antioxidants, CoQ10 fights the inflammation caused by free radicals, which can help in preventing cancer.

“Antioxidants are linked with reduced rates of cancer, and that may be why people are interested in CoQ10,” says Rizzo.

But when it comes to CoQ10 specifically, no studies have shown the proven therapeutic benefits of supplementation.

CoQ10 Foods

Again, because your body makes CoQ10, it’s not essential to seek it out in your diet. There are no specific dietary intake recommendations from the U.S. National Academy of Medicine [6], but eating a varied diet that is rich in antioxidants, like CoQ10, is better for overall health.

Organ meats

One of the best food sources of CoQ10 is organ meat, like heart, liver, and kidney. Organ meat is also an excellent source of iron.

Fatty fish

Trout, herring, mackerel, and sardines are not only good sources of CoQ10, they’re also high in omega-3 for heart and brain health, and a source of lean protein.

Vegetables

Toss spinach, cauliflower, and broccoli into a stir-fry for a boost of CoQ10, fiber, and vitamin C.

Fruit

Oranges are strawberries are go-to fruits when it comes to boosting your antioxidant intake, including CoQ10.

Nuts and seeds

Pistachios and sesame seeds are also high in good-for-you fat.

Legumes

Soybeans, lentils, and peanuts also provide a source of quality plant protein.

Oils

Switch up your go-to cooking oils a few times a week with soybean and canola for a boost of CoQ10.

CoQ10 Supplements and Dosage

There is no known disease that causes a deficiency of CoQ10, says Rizzo. And if everything is functioning as normal, she says, it’s not really necessary to take a supplement.

That said, as you age, your natural levels of CoQ10 in heart tissue and the brain decrease. [7]

The typical dosage, says Rizzo, is 30 to 90 mg per day, but the recommended amount can be as high as 200 mg per day.

Studies have found that supplementing with CoQ10 is safe. However, there may be an interaction if you’re taking a blood thinner like Warfarin, so it’s important to discuss supplementation with a healthcare provider, says Rizzo.

There are two forms of CoQ10: ubiquinone and ubiquinol. While the two forms—ubiquinone is oxidized, which means it has fewer electrons—are technically different, it’s unclear if one is more effective as a supplement. Ubiquinone is the most studied form, and until 2006, it was the only form used in supplements. [8]

Because CoQ10 is a fat-soluble compound, take your supplement with fatty foods, like full-fat dairy or fish.

Will you be adding CoQ10 into your healthcare routine? Share in the comments below.

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