If you asked me for the most powerful nutrient you can take for heart health, hands down the answer is Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). In fact, I’ve long said that if CoQ10 was a medication, pharmaceutical companies would be racing each other to get the patent—it’s literally that powerful for preventing and treating heart disease.
Yet, many cardiologists still don’t know what CoQ10 is or why it’s so powerful. So, I wanted to give you the facts that every patient—and cardiologist—should know about this important nutrient.
What is CoQ10?
CoQ10 is an essential nutrient that resides in the mitochondria, which are the tiny “energy factories” inside each of your cells. It’s the catalyst that sparks the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is your body’s energy. In fact, one of the major benefits of CoQ10 is more energy—which is critical to your entire body, and especially your heart.
Your heart needs an incredible amount of energy. It’s one of the few organs in your body that must work around-the-clock, without resting. Therefore, the myocardium (your heart muscle) needs a lot of ATP energy. That’s why anything that decreases your CoQ10 will impair your heart and affect the energy level throughout your body.
More Energy is the Biggest Benefit of CoQ10
I’ve had patients who thought the energy decline they were feeling was just “old age”—but after they began taking CoQ10 and their energy level rose they literally felt 10 years younger. CoQ10 is that powerful.
CoQ10 is also a true miracle for patients with serious heart conditions, such as heart failure. Over the years, many of my patients with heart failure who took CoQ10 showed improvement in their body’s ejection fraction—which is the percentage of blood that leaves your heart with each heartbeat contraction. The better your ejection fraction, the better your heart is working.
But the benefits of CoQ10 don’t end there.
How CoQ10 Benefits Your Heart
- Lowers Elevated Blood Pressure: Several studies have shown that CoQ10 can reduce high blood pressure, especially systolic blood pressure—but it can take four to 12 weeks to see a measurable difference. In my clinical experience, some patients could reduce their blood pressure medications by adding CoQ10 to their daily routine—but consult your doctor before making any changes to your medications.
- Tempers Cardiac Arrhythmias: Heart palpitations were one of the top conditions that brought people into my cardiology practice. The good news is that one of the benefits of CoQ10 is that it may act as an anti-arrhythmic agent, something that’s been demonstrated in the animal model and that I saw repeatedly in my clinical practice. CoQ10 helps arrhythmias by helping to stabilize the membranes of the electrical conduction system in your body—making it difficult for arrhythmia to start in the first place.
- Reduces Symptoms of Mitral Valve Prolapse: For mitral valve prolapse (MVP), most doctors will prescribe beta-blockers. While they can be effective, especially for pronounced symptoms, they don’t work for everyone and can cause unwanted side effects. That’s why in my clinical practice I often harnessed the benefits of CoQ10 and magnesium for MVP—and between 60% to 70% of my patients did very well with this protocol.
- Treats Congestive Heart Failure: The primary cause of congestive heart failure is tired, weak muscles in the heart—so restoring the heart’s energy supply is critical. By sparking energy production, CoQ10 benefits congestive heart failure by helping to fuel the heart. Clinical studies have shown that after taking CoQ10 for six months, 87% of heart failure patients improved significantly.
- Reduces Episodes of Angina: Over the years, many small-scale studies have shown that taking CoQ10 may help to reduce episodes of angina and improve exercise capacity for those with angina. Therefore, in my clinical practice, I often recommended CoQ10 in combination with anti-anginal medications.
Plus, the benefits of CoQ10 go beyond heart health. Studies show that supplementing with CoQ10 may delay the onset of Parkinson’s disease, improve brain health, prevent migraine headaches, help with macular degeneration, and more.
Do You Have Enough CoQ10?
Your body makes CoQ10 in every cell of your body, especially your liver. But manufacturing CoQ10 isn’t easy. Your body needs many vitamins, amino acids, and cofactors to produce CoQ10 and if it’s deficient in any one of them, it impairs your body’s ability to manufacture CoQ10.
Research has also shown that CoQ10 levels decline with age. After age 40, your body produces less CoQ10 and by age 70 you’re producing just a fraction of the CoQ10 your body used to manufacture. So, supplementing with CoQ10 is important as we age.
Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs can also deplete your body’s supply of CoQ10. That’s because statins work by blocking the enzyme pathway that leads to cholesterol production, which is the same pathway your body uses to manufacture CoQ10. In fact, CoQ10 depletion is one of the primary causes of statin drug side effects—including muscle aches, memory issues, and more.
Can You Get the Benefits of CoQ10 from Food?
There are several food sources of CoQ10, including:
- Chicken Liver
- Beef Heart
Yet, it’s difficult to get the full benefits of CoQ10 from food sources alone. Most people get just 2 to 5 mg of CoQ10 daily in their diets. Therefore, to get the full benefits of CoQ10 you want to take a CoQ10 supplement as well.
What Is the Best Form of CoQ10 to Take?
CoQ10 exists in two forms: ubiquinol and ubiquinone. So, what is the difference? Ubiquinol is the form of CoQ10 that your body naturally produces. Therefore, many manufacturers who make the ubiquinol form of CoQ10 use that as a selling point. Unsurprisingly, ubiquinol is also the more expensive form of CoQ10.
As a cardiologist who has studied the benefits of CoQ10 for more than 40 years, I have yet to find that ubiquinol is superior to ubiquinone. What I have found is that highly absorbable ubiquinone gives you the same benefits of CoQ10, with a much lower price tag.
What is the Right CoQ10 Dosage for You?
The best CoQ10 dosage varies from person to person:
- Best CoQ10 Dosage If You’re Between 40 to 60: I recommend taking at least 50 to 100 mg of CoQ10 daily. That’s because after age 40, your body’s production of CoQ10 begins to decline. In fact, by age 70 most people’s bodies produce just a fraction of the CoQ10 they used to generate.
- Best CoQ10 Dosage If You’re Over 60, or On a Statin Drug: Once you reach age 60, I recommend taking 100 to 200 mg of CoQ10 daily to get the full benefits of CoQ10. Plus, if you’re on a cholesterol-lowering statin drug, the best CoQ10 dosage increases since statins block CoQ10 production.
- Best CoQ10 Dosage If You’ve Had a Heart Attack, Recent Heart Surgery, or Congestive Heart Failure: I recommend taking 200 to 300 mg of CoQ10 daily. This is the best CoQ10 dosage for supporting your heart during these conditions.
How to Maximize the Benefits of CoQ10
To get the full benefits of CoQ10, I recommend taking it:
- In Divided Doses: Preferably with a meal, which helps to boost CoQ10 absorption.
- With Fat: Food, especially fats, help to increase your body’s absorption of CoQ10 so you get the full benefits of CoQ10. For this reason, I often suggest to people that they take their CoQ10 with a teaspoon of natural peanut or almond butter.
- With L-Carnitine: To maximize the benefits of CoQ10, I recommend taking it with L-Carnitine. L-Carnitine acts as a “shuttle,” delivering fuel to your cells—including the cells in your heart. Then, once that fuel reaches your cells, CoQ10 sparks energy production. Many people feel dramatically better when they pair these two nutrients.
Final Tip: If you find that CoQ10 gives you too much energy, or you feel jittery, just decrease the CoQ10 dosage to a level that works best for you.