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What are the benefits of CoQ10?

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BenefitsSide effects and interactionsMedical alternativesSummary
CoQ10 is a supplement that can have various benefits for your heart health. But it also has potential side effects and interactions with other medications.
Medically reviewed by Alyssa Walton, PharmD
Updated on February 1, 2024

When navigating the world of supplements, you’ve likely encountered coenzyme Q10 — or CoQ10 for short — to support heart health and energy production. 

CoQ10 is a compound naturally found in the body. It acts as an antioxidant, generating energy in the cells and preventing the generation of free radicals, which are harmful to the body. 

This harmful action is called “oxidative stress,” which, in the long term, can lead to health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and dementia.

CoQ10 benefits include improved heart health, blood sugar, and symptoms of congestive heart failure, among others. 

Natural CoQ10 levels decrease with age. This is why older people may be deficient and could benefit from a CoQ10 boost. Those predisposed to neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, may also benefit from taking CoQ10 as a preventive measure.

Benefits of CoQ10

A person looking at supplements in front of their laptop, considering the benefits of CoQ10.
Photography by Kseniya Ovchinnikova/Getty Images

CoQ10 may have benefits in many different conditions.

While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t approved CoQ10 to treat any conditions, it is available as an over-the-counter supplement. However, it is important to speak with a healthcare professional before taking any dietary supplements to manage any conditions.

Metabolic diseases like diabetes and insulin resistance may benefit from CoQ10, as studies show its effectiveness at regulating blood sugar levels. Some 2021 research shows it may even decrease risk factors of heart disease for people with diabetes. 

A 2018 review showed that the compound could help improve outcomes for people with heart failure, particularly those who have difficulty tolerating other treatments. 

Some people also often use CoQ10 to help prevent migraine attacks, known as prophylaxis, as research finds that people with migraine have low levels of the enzyme.

Oxidative stress, which CoQ10 works to reduce, is a well-known marker of mortality in heart failure.

Continued oxidative stress leads to chronic inflammation, which experts have linked to cancer, and studies have noted that people with the disease tend to be deficient in CoQ10.

That’s why medical research has studied its ability to block the growth of cancer cells, though more robust research is necessary to draw a scientifically significant conclusion.

The brain is also prone to the negative effects of oxidative stress, which can lead to conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Though the scientific research into CoQ10’s ability to slow the progression of these diseases is promising, more research on humans rather than animals is needed.

In addition to these more serious health issues, researchers have also studied in-depth CoQ10’s effect on exercise performance and skin wrinkles. A 2022 study found it can play a key role in mitochondrial function, which generates the energy to power your cells and may result in better muscle recovery during and after exercise. 

When applied topically, CoQ10 may help reduce the signs of aging by giving the skin a boost of antioxidant protection.

Side effects and drug interactions

Though typically CoQ10 is well-tolerated, there may be some side effects. These include:

  • diarrhea
  • headaches
  • nausea
  • skin rashes

It can also sometimes cause insomnia when taken too close to bedtime, especially in high doses (100 milligrams a day or more).

Note that CoQ10 might also interact with blood-thinning medications like warfarin (Coumadin) by reducing the drug’s effectiveness.

Medical alternatives to CoQ10

While CoQ10 has shown promise in managing several conditions, it’s important to remember that the supplement isn’t an FDA-approved treatment for them. Therefore, you’re likely to still benefit from prescription medications to manage your condition.

For example, if you have diabetes or insulin resistance, a doctor might prescribe the following:

For migraine prevention, you might take medications like:

For Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, a medical professional may prescribe drugs like:

A healthcare professional can help with the most appropriate treatment for your condition.

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Summary

CoQ10 is a compound with powerful antioxidant properties. Some studies indicate it can help improve and manage several health conditions, including diabetes, migraine, and dementia. It’s generally well-tolerated, with low risk of side effects, and any side effects are usually mild.

It’s available over the counter, and you don’t need a prescription. However, speak with a healthcare professional before taking any dietary supplements like CoQ10. They can tell you more about the risk of side effects and interactions.

Download the free Optum Perks Discount Card to save up to 80% on some prescription medications.

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