Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)

Medically Reviewed by Jabeen Begum, MD on August 01, 2023
4 min read

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a nutrient that occurs naturally in your body. CoQ10 is also in many foods you eat. CoQ10 acts as an antioxidant, which protects cells from damage and plays an important part in your metabolism.

Although CoQ10 plays a key role in the body, most healthy people have enough CoQ10 naturally.

CoQ10 has been used to treat many different conditions. There's evidence that CoQ10 supplements can lower blood pressure slightly.

Though still controversial, some preliminary evidence suggests that CoQ10 may help prevent or treat the adverse effects, such as muscle pains and liver problems, of taking statin-type cholesterol drugs.

Preliminary studies show that CoQ10 may slow, but not stop, the progression of Alzheimer's disease. Additional research is needed to confirm this effect.

CoQ10 has also been studied as a preventive treatment for migraine headaches, though it may take several months to work. It has also been studied for low sperm count, cancer, HIV, muscular dystrophy, Parkinson’s disease, gum disease, and many other conditions. However, research has not found any conclusive benefits. Although CoQ10 is sometimes sold as an energy supplement, there's no evidence that it boosts energy in a typical person.

Benefits also may include:

Heart health. Risk factors for heart failure, such as high blood pressure and coronary heart disease, often lead to oxidative stress and cell damage. Studies show that CoQ10 can improve symptoms and reduce the risk of heart-related complications. It may also reduce the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.

Brain health. CoQ10 may reduce harmful compounds that could increase your risk of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. In turn, this could slow disease progression.

Eggs and sperm are susceptible to oxidative damage. CoQ10 may help stop, and even reverse, the decline in egg quantity and quality as you age. Studies also show that the compound could improve sperm activity and concentration, boosting fertility.

There's no established ideal dose of CoQ10. Studies have used doses of CoQ10 ranging from 50 to 1,200 milligrams in adults, sometimes split into several doses over the course of a day.

CoQ10 supplements. The amount of CoQ10 found naturally in foods is much lower than that found in supplements. In many cases, a doctor might recommend a CoQ10 supplement. There are no known ideal dosages, as everyone’s needs vary. Standard dosages for CoQ10 supplements range between 60 and 500 milligrams daily, and the highest recommended daily dose is around 1,200 milligrams. Follow the instructions on the bottle or get advice from your doctor or a dietitian. Keep in mind that different supplement brands might have different ingredients and strengths.

When to take CoQ10. AsCoQ10 is fat-soluble, it's best taken with a meal that contains fat, so that your body can better absorb it. Some studies show it may work better if taken at night.

While many people’s bodies make all the CoQ10 they need, some don’t. The whole body content is between 500 and 1,500 milligrams, and it decreases with age.

Good food sources of CoQ10 include:

Organ meats. CoQ10 is present in cells throughout your body, mostly concentrated in your vital organs. This means animal organ meats have the highest amounts of CoQ10 per 100 grams. For instance, a beef heart has 11.3 milligrams, and a beef liver has 3.9 milligrams. A chicken heart has 9.2 milligrams and liver has 11.6 milligrams.

Fatty fish. Fatty fish such as trout, salmon, mackerel, and sardines contain CoQ10. Mackerel provides about 6.75 milligrams per 100 grams while trout provides 0.85 milligrams per 100 grams.

Meat. It’s not just animal organs that provide CoQ10. Because it lives throughout your body, it's present in all meat forms. Beef offers about 3.1 milligrams per 100 grams, chicken has 1.4 milligrams, and pork has 2.4 milligrams. Reindeer meat provides about 15.8 milligrams.

Soybeans. Soybean products such as tofu, soy milk, and soy yogurt are a valuable protein source. Soybeans also have many other vitamins and minerals, as well as CoQ10. Boiled soybeans have 1.2 milligrams per 100 grams. Other soy products contain lesser amount of CoQ10, with tofu at 0.3 milligrams and soy milk at 0.25 milligrams.

Vegetables. Along with many vitamins and minerals, a lot of vegetables contain CoQ10. Among them, broccoli has high CoQ10 content, weighing in at 0.6 to 0.86 milligrams per 100 grams.

Nuts and seeds. Along with protein, heart-healthy fats, and other important nutrients, nuts and seeds provide CoQ10. Pistachios have 2 milligrams of CoQ10 per 100-gram serving, peanuts have 2.6 milligrams, and sesame seeds have 1.7 milligrams.

Most side effects of CoQ10 are mild. They include digestive problems, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, and heartburn.

More serious risks are possible. Don't take CoQ10 supplements without first talking to your doctor if you:

  • have heart failure
  • have liver problems
  • have diabetes
  • are pregnant
  • are breastfeeding
  • take blood thinners
  • take thyroid medications
  • receive chemotherapy

CoQ10 supplements are also not recommended for children.

Does CoQ10 cause blood clots? Possibly. There's some evidence that CoQ10 can reduce the effectiveness of blood thinners like warfarin (Jantoven). This may increase your risk for blood clots.