I was introduced to coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) by my dad, Dr. Stephen Sinatra, who began researching this nutrient in the early 1990s, long before most doctors had heard of it. I remember sitting around the dinner table when I was a kid, hearing him talk about the remarkable benefits of CoQ10 for heart failure, blood pressure, chest pain, and other cardiovascular conditions.
Thanks to my father’s pioneering work, not to mention his profound influence on me, CoQ10 has been one of my core natural therapies since I first started practicing medicine.
What Does CoQ10 Do for the Body?
CoQ10 is found in virtually every cell in your body. It plays an essential role in the production of ATP, the energy that fuels your cells. All cells require energy, and supplemental CoQ10 increases cellular energy when stores are low. It is also a fat-soluble antioxidant that protects cellular and mitochondrial membranes against oxidative stress. Plus, CoQ10 reduces inflammation, which is a factor in many chronic diseases.
Is CoQ10 Good for Anything Besides Heart Disease?
You bet it is. Supplemental CoQ10 has many proven uses in addition to its well-documented benefits for congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, angina, hypertension, and other cardiovascular disorders.
I routinely recommend CoQ10 for my patients with chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and migraines. Initial studies show that it is a promising therapy for periodontal (gum) disease, diabetes, fatty liver disease, glaucoma, Parkinson’s, and other neurodegenerative diseases. Plus, CoQ10 increases fertility by improving egg quality, as well as sperm count and motility.
CoQ10 levels naturally decline in some tissues, such as heart tissue, as we get older. Therefore, maintaining an optimal level with supplements is important.
What Is the Best Form of CoQ10 to Take?
There are two main forms of supplemental CoQ10: ubiquinol and ubiquinone. Some claim that ubiquinol is better because it’s the form that is active in the body. This is a pretty weak argument. Both forms are naturally occurring in the body, and once you take ubiquinone and it is absorbed, it is converted to the active form.
The most important consideration when selecting a CoQ10 supplement is absorption. CoQ10 is fat soluble, meaning it requires fat or oil for absorption. Hard capsules with powdered CoQ10 or compressed tablets are very poorly absorbed. Using forms of this nutrient that are bio-enhanced to increase absorption is essential.
Bottom line, both ubiquinone and ubiquinol are fine, but I usually recommend ubiquinone because it is the form used in most of the clinical trials and it is less expensive.
What Is the Best Dose?
I generally recommend 100–200 mg a day for the treatment of various health challenges, although some conditions such as heart failure may require more. For prevention and health maintenance, 50–100 mg is my recommended daily dose.
When Is the Best Time to Take CoQ10?
CoQ10 is best taken with meals. As noted above, it is fat-soluble, so taking it with food that contains some fat enhances absorption.
Can You Take It Every Day?
Absolutely. I highly recommend taking CoQ10 daily to keep your blood levels steady. In fact, my dad recommended taking it in split doses—morning and evening—to avoid having your CoQ10 levels fall too low.
What Are the Side Effects of CoQ10?
CoQ10 is incredibly safe and very well tolerated. There have been no significant adverse side effects in clinical trials, including studies that involved doses as high as 3,600 mg a day.
Minor and infrequent gastrointestinal complaints such as stomach upset, nausea, and diarrhea have been reported in some of the studies, especially when higher doses were used. If you do have any of these issues, you can reduce your dose or break it up into smaller amounts taken two or three times a day. Taking your supplements with meals also minimizes side effects.
I have been asked if CoQ10 is safe during pregnancy. Research on this is limited, but I can tell you it is often used by women trying to get pregnant, including those undergoing fertility treatments. So, it has been taken during early pregnancy with no reported problems. However, you should discuss this with your doctor.
Does CoQ10 Cause Insomnia?
This is a reasonable question since CoQ10 promotes cellular energy production. I suppose it’s possible, but insomnia is not a common side effect. If you think your CoQ10 supplement is affecting your sleep, take it early in the day with breakfast or lunch.
Can CoQ10 Be Taken Along with Other Supplements?
It is perfectly fine, even advisable, to take CoQ10 plus other supplements. In fact, many excellent supplements targeting various health challenges combine CoQ10 with other supportive vitamins, minerals, herbs, and nutrients.
What Medications Interact with CoQ10?
The only potential drug-supplement interaction is with warfarin (Coumadin). There have been scattered reports that CoQ10 might decrease the blood-thinning effect of this medication. If you are taking warfarin, talk to your doctor before adding CoQ10, as blood tests to assess clotting time should be monitored when you first start taking it.
Note that you can take CoQ10 with other blood thinners such as Pradaxa, Eliquis, and Xarelto, as well as all other classes of medications.
Should a Statin and CoQ10 Be Taken Together?
Definitely. Lipitor, Zocor, Crestor, and other statin drugs lower cholesterol by targeting a biochemical pathway that blocks the production of cholesterol. The problem is that the same pathway is also required for the production of CoQ10, so this often leads to CoQ10 deficiency. Common signs of statin-related CoQ10 deficiency include fatigue, weakness, and muscle pain.
Anyone who is on a statin drug should also take a daily dose of 100–200 mg of supplemental CoQ10.
In summary, CoQ10 is essential not only for disease treatment but also for prevention and health maintenance.
Although CoQ10 is naturally produced in your body, production declines dramatically with age and in the presence of certain medications and diseases. When your cells run low on CoQ10, cellular energy lags, and this affects how you feel and how your body functions.
Supplemental CoQ10 is a safe, well-tolerated, and proven way to ensure that your cells have a steady supply of this essential compound.