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Who Should Supplement CoQ10?
Beth Ley Knotts, Ph.D.
Each of the cells in our body contains an energy powerhouse called the mitochondria. CoenzymeQ10 (CoQ10) or ubiquinol is an essential component of healthy mitochondrial function. CoQ10 is needed to convert the energy from fats and sugars into usable cellular energy.

With age, the body’s production of CoQ10 declines significantly. When there is adequate levels of CoQ10 present, mitochondria work most efficiently throughout the entire body to produce energy. Organs have dense populations of CoQ10, with the highest concentrations in the heart.

CoQ10 is also a potent antioxidant, which helps to protect proteins, and DNA of mitochondria from oxidation and supports mitochondrial function.

More people are supplementing with CoQ10 than ever before. One reason is increased awareness that “statin” drugs used to lower LDL and cholesterol greatly deplete CoQ10 levels in the blood, and possibly the tissues.

CoQ10 Levels Decline with Age
While statin drugs have been shown to reduce plasma CoQ10 by nearly 40%, simple aging may even result in a much higher number. (Ghirlanda)

In addition to promoting longevity, some research suggests that CoQ10 is possibly effective for lowering high blood pressure, improving immunity in HIV/AIDS and preventing migraine headaches. Among the most promising use of CoQ10 is for those with heart failure combined with other medications.

CoQ10 is recommended in large doses for Parkinson’s, as high as 1,200 mg daily, compared to the 300 mg recommended to help lower cholesterol. CoQ10 levels in the mitochondria from Parkinson’s patients are reduced and the mitochondrial function in these patients is impaired. (Shults) CoQ10 treatment improves quality of life in patients with Parkinson's disease and may play a role in delaying the progression of that disorder. CoQ10 also has antidepressive effects associated with Parkinson’s. (Morris)

CoQ10 is recommended for anyone with Neurodegenerative Disorders including ALS, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s.

CoQ10 levels are also depleted in individuals with depression, myalgic encephalomyelitis, chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia and supplementing is recommended to help improve quality of life.

This may be explained through CoQ10’s ability to reduce free radical damage and protect the mitochondria. (Morris)

CoQ10 is recommended in addition to standard drug treatment for hypertension, especially in the elderly. (Kedziora) Oxidative stress and endothelial dysfunction are major causes of elevated blood pressure. CoQ10 supplementation reduces blood pressure in hypertensive patients, without producing dangerous abrupt drops in pressure. Doses of CoQ10 as low as 60 mg twice daily can lower blood pressure by up to 17.8 points systolic (top number) and 7 points diastolic (bottom number). (Burke, Ho)

Over the past 30 years, mounting evidence has established CoQ10 as one of the most vital nutrients necessary for heart health. Studies have shown that CoQ10 improves each of the risk factors for heart failure.

How Do We Get CoQ10?
There are a few foods which supply CoQ10, but most of it needs to be made by the body in the liver. CoQ10 can be found in organ meats such as the heart, kidney and liver (but much is lost during cooking). Other foods include peanuts, mackerel and sardines.

If you decide to take CoQ10 supplements, for adults 18 and older, up to 1,200 milligrams daily is considered safe. For best results, split up your dosing into 2-3 times each day, vs. 1 large dose.

Who Should Supplement CoQ10?
  • Smokers. Smoking can reduce CoQ10 stores in the body.

  • Those taking a statin drug. Statin drugs, prescribed to lower cholesterol levels, have been shown to reduce plasma CoQ10 by nearly 40%. (Ghirlanda)

  • Individuals over age 50. The aging process reduces CoQ10 levels in the heart muscle wall by 72%. (Rosenfeldt) The dual effect of aging plus statin drug use can result in severe depletion of cellular vitality. (Ghirlanda)

  • Individuals who have Parkinson’s or other mitochondrial or neurodegenerative disease or mitochondrial dysfunction such as migraine headaches.

  • Individuals who have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease and congestive heart failure. (Fotino)

  • Individuals who have diabetes, cancer, and muscular diseases. These conditions have all been associated with low CoQ10 levels. (Garrido-Maraver)

  • Individuals with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, autosomal recessive mutations, age-related oxidative stress. (Garrido-Maraver, Morris)

How Do You Choose a CoQ10 Supplement?
CoQ10 is difficult to absorb so look for a high absorption forms of CoQ10. Sublingual options may also be a good choice. Side effects are highly unlikely, even at high doses. It may however lower blood pressure so you may need to adjust your medication if you are taking high blood pressure medication.

Scientific References:

Burke BE,. Randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of coenzyme Q10 in isolated systolic hypertension. South Med J. 2001 Nov;94(11):1112-7.

Fotino AD, Thompson-Paul AM, et al. Effect of coenzyme Q10 supplementation on heart failure: a meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Feb;97(2):268-75

Garrido-Maraver J, Cordero MD, et al, Coenzyme q10 therapy. Mol Syndromol. 2014 Jul;5(3-4):187-97.

Ghirlanda G, Oradei A, et al. Evidence of plasma CoQ10-lowering effect by HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. J Clin Pharmacol. 1993 Mar;33(3):226-9.

Ho MJ, et al. Blood pressure lowering efficacy of coenzyme Q10 for primary hypertension. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009 (4):CD007435.

Morris G, Anderson G, et al. Coenzyme Q10 depletion in medical and neuropsychiatric disorders: potential repercussions and therapeutic implications. Mol Neurobiol. 2013 Dec;48(3):883-903.

Rosenfeldt FL, Pepe S, et al. Coenzyme Q10 improves the tolerance of the senscent myocardium to aerobic and ischemic stress: studies in rats and in human atrial tissues. Biofactors. 1999;9(2-4):291-9

Shults CW, Oakes D, Kieburtz K, Beal F, Haas R, et al and the Parkinson Study Group. "Effects of coenzyme Q10 in early Parkinson disease: evidence of slowing of the functional decline." Archives of Neurology, October 2002, Vol. 59, No. 10, pp. 1541- 1550.