Given their immense popularity among my clients and the general public, I’ve made it a habit of late to focus my writing attention on the world’s top selling dietary supplements.
So What The Heck Is Coenzyme Q10?
To make it short and sweet, CoQ10 is a naturally occurring compound that exists in our cell membranes and plays a role in modulating fundamental biological processes including mitochondrial functioning, energy & anti-oxidant production as well as blood flow.
It is a vitamin-like substance that our bodies produce internally, but that can also be provided by certain types of food ( meat, fish, certain vegetables etc).
CoQ10 has garnered a great deal of interest in the world of cardiovascular health and heart failure treatment, while a recent study has even suggested that low circulating levels of CoQ10 in the blood could be predictive of future dementia.
But Does CoQ10 Supplementation Actually Do Anything?
That’s the millions of dollars of supplements sold question.
While the biochemical role of CoQ10 is under little dispute, we have to seriously question whether or not taking CoQ10 in supplemental form actually contributes to our health in any meaningful way.
And that, my friends, is precisely the goal of today’s article.
Let’s get started by reviewing five key benefits that the best available evidence points to CoQ10 supplementation offering.
#1 CoQ10 May Help People Who Take Statin Medications
Cholesterol lowering statin medications are among the most frequently prescribed in North America.
They are considered quite effective and generally have modest side effects, one of which happens to be myalgia (muscle ache, weakness and/or fatigue.)
Statins are also known to decrease circulating levels of CoQ10 and interestingly enough a 2018 meta-analysis out of the Journal Of The American Heart Association found that CoQ10 supplementation helped reduce myalgia in those who take statin medication.
#2 CoQ10 May Increase HDL or “Good” Cholesterol Levels
CoQ10 is often pushed or promoted as a cardiovascular health supplement because it is associated with a reduced likelihood of negative cardiovascular outcomes in certain populations.
Although it has not be shown to be able to reduce LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels, a 2018 review out of the Lipids In Health And Disease journal found evidence that may increase HDL cholesterol levels.
This is an intriguing finding since HDL levels are traditionally thought to be increased by regular physical activity and blood levels below the optimal range may increase one’s risk of cardiovascular disease.
#3 CoQ10 May Help Women Living With PCOS (+ Fertility?)
Multiple papers including a 2019 publication from the Journal Of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism and a 2018 paper out of Clinical Endocrinology (Oxford) have that CoQ10 supplementation could offer modest benefits to glucose metabolism ( improved fasting blood sugar levels, insulin resistance etc) in women with PCOS.
PCOS is also one of the leading causes of fertility concerns in women.
I’ve written previously on the specific foods, nutrients and dietary patterns that might improve PCOS/fertility outcomes and I do recommend you give it a read if the subject is of interest you.
There is an additional growing interest round CoQ10 supplementation ( 1, 2)in certain capacities improving fertility outcomes independent of PCOS, although more research is required to draw firm conclusions.
#4 CoQ10 May Help With Migraine
Migraine is a common but perhaps not overly well understood issue that many people face.
While dietary triggers play a role, those who dealing with migraine regularly will inevitably seek as much as help as they can get.
With that being said, a 2019 meta-analysis out of the Neurologica journal found that CoQ10 supplementation may reduce the frequency and severity of migraine in those who suffer from them regularly.
#5 CoQ10 May Improve Exercise Performance
Given CoQ10’s role in energy metabolism it is perhaps unsurprising that it has been explored as a potential ergogenic aid.
While I don’t believe that CoQ10 is widely considered a cornerstone supplement in the world of sports nutrition, there are some intriguing studies out there that focus on its role in performance enhancement.
A 2013 study from the Journal Of The International Society Of Sports Nutrition, for example, found that CoQ10 supplementation actually improved total output in well-trained athletes.
In 2008, a paper published from the same journal found that CoQ10 supplementation contributed to enhanced endurance and had positive effects on oxidative stress levels after exercise in both trained and untrained individuals.
CoQ10 supplementation appears to be the subject of numerous studies in a variety of capacities.
Although more data is always helpful to draw firm conclusions, it does appear that CoQ10 has the potential to be a sort of something for everyone type of supplement.
As evidenced by it’s Amazon.com ranking, CoQ10 supplements are a top selling product that appear to be widely available and among the more affordable supplements with minimal risk of side effects or drug interactions.
With that being said, it is not approved for the treatment of any specific medical condition.
Vulnerable populations including the elderly, children and nursing mothers, as well as those living with chronic conditions ( diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease) should exercise caution with taking this or any other supplement and are advised to consult their healthcare professional before proceeding.
While CoQ10 supplementation is by no means a fundamental component of good health, it appears to be a thoroughly reviewed product that may offer some value to certain people in certain contexts.
Just make sure you eat you keep eating your kale.
Until next time,
Andy De Santis RD MPH
PS: Curious about a specific product or supplement that I haven’t written about yet? Feel free to use my contact form to send me a request and I will happily consider writing a future article on that topic.
From the mineral perspective, magnesium and calcium are two of the most supplemented – I’ve already written on the top food sources of these nutrients though.