Is CoQ10 Right For You? Here’s How To Know
If you think the nutrition, self-care, and fitness worlds are overwhelming, just wait until you dive into the supplement industry. There are quite literally thousands of capsules, powders, tinctures, and tonics to choose from. There are vitamins, minerals, herbs, multis, and condition-specific blends — and of course, there are hundreds of brands, each claiming to be the best.
Even as a functional medicine practitioner who is extremely well-versed in the supplement world, it still surprises me how much time it takes to keep up-to-date on all the research and science.
If you want to dip a toe into the world of supplements, the best thing to do is to start simple and educate yourself fully on the ingredient that you’re considering. By educating yourself on the importance of specific nutrients, you can better prioritize, starting with what makes the most sense for your body and specific health goals.
One of the supplements I often find myself recommending to my patients in my functional medicine telehealth clinic is CoQ10.
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CoQ10 101: The basics
I frequently lean on CoQ10 — which stands for coenzyme Q10 — because it can elevate certain areas of health that many of my patients struggle with. CoQ10 is found in every cell in the body — more specifically in the mitochondria, which are the energy centers of the cell. In order for your body to use CoQ10, it needs to convert the inactive form (something called ubiquinone), into ubiquinol which is the active form of this nutrient.
Once ubiquinone is in the body, it works as an antioxidant and neutralizes free radicals in the body. Too many free radicals in the body can contribute to cellular and DNA damage as well as chronic inflammation, which can lead to a variety of inflammatory health conditions such as heart disease, autoimmune conditions, and even cancer.
The Benefits: Blood Sugar, Migraines, & More
Knowing that antioxidants like ubiquinone play so many roles in the body, it won’t surprise you that CoQ10 can benefit a wide range of physical functions and even certain diseases. But before we dive into the benefits, it’s important to talk about CoQ10 safety. Because while CoQ10 is generally safe for most people, if you are taking blood thinners it may decrease their effectiveness. It’s important to talk with your doctor before adding in supplements to avoid any possible interactions.
And now, without further adieu. Here are six reasons why you might want to consider a CoQ10 supplement:
1. Blood sugar imbalance
Supplementing with CoQ10 can help reduce blood sugar levels for those with higher than normal levels, thanks to its ability to lower insulin resistance, which is the underlying cause of blood sugar issues. If you have a blood sugar problem, also try these science-backed ways to maintain healthy blood sugar.
Those who struggle with frequent migraines are also more likely (1) to have lower levels of CoQ10. But research has shown that regular supplementation can help alleviate migraine severity and frequency. You can also try these migraine-tips.
3. Lowered inflammation
Inflammation is the root cause of most illness these days, and luckily, CoQ10 has shown (2) an ability to reduce levels of the inflammatory compounds CRP and TNF-a as well as the pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-6 (3). This is most likely due to its ability to inhibit production of the one inflammatory protein in particular, called NF-kB.
This autoimmune disease affects millions of Americans and is characterized by chronic inflammation and pain throughout the body. In cases of fibromyalgia, CoQ10 is unevenly distributed (4) throughout the body which contributes to higher oxidative stress - which is important since increased oxidative stress is a contributor to inflammation and chronic pain. This makes regular supplementation important for those struggling with this condition.
5. Poor cardiovascular health
Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in America — and it is also intricately connected to lifestyle factors like diet, exercise, and smoking and alcohol consumption. And while that might sound bad, that’s actually a good thing because it means we have some control over our heart health. Researchers have looked into the effects of CoQ10 supplementation and its ability to significantly improve (5) heart health.
Depression is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. If you’re having trouble with your mood, you should know that a study (6) published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology found that in 18 people with depression, 400 to 800 mg/day of CoQ10 for a month decreased the severity of depression symptoms and significantly improved symptoms of fatigue, sadness, and difficulty concentrating or brain fog.
CoQ10 is a great supplement for a wide range of health woes. If you struggle with any of the issues mentioned above, talk to your doctor or health practitioner about CoQ10 — it might just make the difference!
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- Hershey AD, Powers SW, Vockell AL, et al. Coenzyme Q10 deficiency and response to supplementation in pediatric and adolescent migraine. Headache. 2007;47(1):73-80. doi:10.1111/j.1526-4610.2007.00652.x
- Fan L, Feng Y, Chen GC, Qin LQ, Fu CL, Chen LH. Effects of coenzyme Q10 supplementation on inflammatory markers: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Pharmacol Res. 2017;119:128-136. doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2017.01.032
- Mirhashemi SM, Najafi V, Raygan F, Asemi Z. The effects of coenzyme Q10 supplementation on cardiometabolic markers in overweight type 2 diabetic patients with stable myocardial infarction: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. ARYA Atheroscler. 2016;12(4):158-165.
- Cordero MD, Moreno-Fernández AM, deMiguel M, et al. Coenzyme Q10 distribution in blood is altered in patients with fibromyalgia. Clin Biochem. 2009;42(7-8):732-735. doi:10.1016/j.clinbiochem.2008.12.010
- Mortensen SA, Rosenfeldt F, Kumar A, et al. The effect of coenzyme Q10 on morbidity and mortality in chronic heart failure: results from Q-SYMBIO: a randomized double-blind trial. JACC Heart Fail. 2014;2(6):641-649. doi:10.1016/j.jchf.2014.06.008
- Forester BP, Harper DG, Georgakas J, Ravichandran C, Madurai N, Cohen BM. Antidepressant effects of open label treatment with coenzyme Q10 in geriatric bipolar depression. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2015;35(3):338-340. doi:10.1097/JCP.0000000000000326
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BY DR. WILL COLE
Dr. Will Cole, DNM, IFMCP, DC is a leading functional medicine expert who consults people around the globe, starting one of the first functional medicine telehealth centers in the world. Named one of the top 50 functional and integrative doctors in the nation, Dr. Will Cole provides a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. He is the host of the popular The Art Of Being Well podcast and the New York Times bestselling author of Intuitive Fasting, Ketotarian, The Inflammation Spectrum and the brand new book Gut Feelings: Healing the Shame-Fueled Relationship Between What You Eat and How You Feel.
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