CoQ10 (short for CoEnzyme Q10) is a compound that helps generate energy in our cells. It is beneficial in various ways, especially for different disorders related to cellular energy production, metabolism, and oxidative injury. Research reveals CoQ10 to be most promising to neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease – for which CoEnzyme Q10 has gained high popularity.
What is CoQ10?
Coenzyme Q10 (2,3 dimethoxy-5 methyl-6-decaprenyl benzoquinone) is a fat-soluble, vitamin-like quinone commonly known as ubiquinone, CoQ, and vitamin Q10. It is available in more than 100 single-ingredient and combination-ingredient products, and in 2002 it accounted for more than $200 million in sales in the United States. 
Coenzyme Q10 was first isolated in 1957 in beef mitochondria and is found in the highest concentrations in tissues with high energy turnover such as the heart, brain, liver, and kidney.
CoQ10 is a ubiquitous compound vital to several activities related to energy metabolism.
Because dysfunctional energy metabolism has been cited as a contributing factor for several conditions, coenzyme Q10 has been indicated in the treatment of cardiac, neurologic, oncologic, and immunologic disorders.
Although the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 does not allow claims for treatment of specific diseases in the United States, coenzyme Q10 has been cleared for treatment indications in other countries, such as congestive heart failure (CHF) in Japan since 1974.
This fat-soluble substance, which resembles a vitamin, is present in all respiring eukaryotic cells, primarily in the mitochondria. It is a component of the electron transport chain. It participates in aerobic cellular respiration, which generates energy in ATP. Ninety-five percent of the human body’s energy is caused this way. Therefore, those organs with the highest energy requirements, such as the heart, liver, and kidney, have the highest CoQ10 concentrations.
There are three redox states of CoQ10: fully oxidized (ubiquinone), semiquinone (ubisemiquinone), and fully reduced (ubiquinol). The capacity of this molecule to act as a two-electron carrier (moving between the quinone and quinol form) and a one-electron carrier (moving between the semiquinone and one of these other forms) is central to its role in the electron transport chain due to the iron–sulfur clusters that can only accept one electron at a time, and as a free-radical–scavenging antioxidant.” Wikipedia
According to Nootropics Depot:
Coenzyme Q10 (also known as CoQ10) is, as the name suggests, a coenzyme. CoQ10, via its action as a coenzyme, can drive many cellular processes throughout our bodies. Although not classified as a vitamin, CoQ10 closely resembles the structure of vitamin K and it appears that CoQ10 benefits resemble vitamin-like effects. This also hints at an important aspect of CoQ10: it is essential for overall human health. Without CoQ10, many bodily functions would may not work properly. Luckily our bodies are fairly good at preserving CoQ10, and CoQ10 deficiencies are rare. That said, taking a CoQ10 supplement still may have some remarkable effects on overall health.
Supplementing with extra CoEnzyme Q10, alongside a healthy diet, can benefit all the following:
- Support cardiovascular health
- Support metabolic function
- Improve cognitive function
- Support brain health (being a neuroprotectant)
Many of CoQ10 benefits are attributed to its help in producing ATP energy. This essential molecule drives most biological processes. CoQ10 is also known as a redox molecule, which allows it to transfer between fully oxidized and fully reduced states. Through its redox actions, CoQ10 can help power our cells while also helping protect them from oxidative stress. This all sounds great on paper, right? However, CoQ10, in its crystalline form, is faced with some significant issues and may not be able to produce all of the CoQ10 benefits mentioned above.
Benefits & Effects
What Are CoQ10 Benefits?
- Enhances and Sharpens Mental Capabilities
- Boosts Energy and Reduces Fatigue
- Boosts Mitochondrial Health & Function
- Reduces Stress and Free Radicals Damage
- Supports Fertility
- Combats Statin Drug Side Effects
- Cancer Prevention Potential
- Powerful Antioxidant & Neuroprotectant
- Protects Blood Vessels and Enhances Blood Flow
Enhances and Sharpens Mental Capabilities
Coenzyme Q10 may also present significant benefits to your cognition. Studies found that individuals with higher levels of CoQ10 showed greater mental sharpness, increased mental energy, and greater performance on a variety of mental tests. In contrast, those with lower levels of Coenzyme Q10 had greater difficulty concentrating, experienced brain fog, were slower in their mental processing, and showed general cognitive decline. Some researchers suggest that taking Coenzyme Q10 early enough may decrease your chances of suffering memory loss as a result of aging.
Boosts Energy and Reduces Fatigue
Some studies also show that Coenzyme Q10 may help to reduce physical fatigue, increase energy, improve exercise capacity, and expedite recovery from exercise.
Boosts Mitochondrial Health & Function
In studies of eight to 44 patients, Coenzyme Q10 demonstrated positive trends in reducing symptoms associated with selected mitochondrial abnormalities including the mitochondrial encephalopathy, lactic acidosis, and stroke-like episodes (MELAS) syndrome, Kearns-Sayre syndrome, and the myoclonus epilepsy with ragged-red fibers (MERRhF) syndrome. [R]
Reduces Stress and Free Radicals Damage
Oxidative damage (or free radical damage) of cell structures plays an important role in the functional declines that accompany aging and cause disease. As both a water- and fat-soluble antioxidant, CoQ10 has been found to inhibit lipid peroxidation, which occurs when cell membranes and low-density lipoproteins are exposed to oxidizing conditions that enter from outside the body. [R]
The antioxidant properties of CoQ10 could help improve sperm quality and reduce the decline in the number and quality of eggs in women. Supplementing with CoQ10 seems to help and may even reverse this age-related decline in egg quality and quantity.
Female fertility decreases with age due to a decline in the number and quality of available eggs. CoQ10 is directly involved in this process. As you age, CoQ10 production slows, making the body less effective at protecting the eggs from oxidative damage. [R]
Combats Statin Drug Side Effects
Statins are drugs that help lower cholesterol but often come along with a host of side effects.
Patients suffering from statin-related muscle pain, muscle strength degradation, and decreased aerobic activity can increase performance through daily intake of CoQ10 without other symptoms.
“Statin drugs can induce rhabdomyolysis (muscle death) which release rhabdomyosarcoma cells into the bloodstream, degrading other tissues. Human rhabdomyosarcoma cells treated with a CoQ10 supplement alongside simvastatin reversed muscle death and killed off remaining sarcoma cells.” [R]
Cancer Prevention Potential
Low levels of CoQ10 have been associated with up to a 53.3% higher risk of cancer and indicate a poor prognosis for various types of cancer [R]
CoQ10 plays a critical role in the protection of cell DNA and cell survival, both of which are strongly linked to cancer prevention and recurrence.
Powerful Antioxidant & Neuroprotectant
Antioxidants are necessary for neutralizing harmful compounds known as free radicals, which are created when cells undergo oxidation. Free radicals can promote cell death, mutate DNA, and damage cell membranes. CoQ10 may help to eliminate free radicals and prevent the damage they can cause. Some studies even suggest that CoQ10 may recharge other antioxidant compounds and nutrients.
Within mitochondria, coenzyme Q10 has been found to protect membrane proteins and DNA from the oxidative damage that accompanies lipid peroxidation and neutralize free radicals directly that contribute to nearly all age-related diseases (heart disease, cancer, diabetes, neurological disease, etc.). [R]
Protects Blood Vessels and Enhances Blood Flow
According to Nootropics Depot, one of the most popular companies that manufactures nootropics, CoQ10 can protect your blood vessels and enhance your blood flow. This is partly caused by preservation of nitric oxide, a signaling molecule that relaxes the arteries. This may improve overall circulation and cardiovascular health.
COQ10 can reduce the damage oxidized Low-density Lipoprotein (LDL) can do to blood vessels, as well as reduce plaque buildup in the arteries.
Mechanism of Action
How Does CoQ10 Work?
Coenzyme Q10 is vital for the proper transfer of electrons within the mitochondrial oxidative respiratory chain, whose main function is adenosine triphosphate production. Coenzyme Q10 also appears to increase adenosine triphosphate levels by preventing the loss of the adenine nucleotide pool from cardiac cells.4 Additionally, coenzyme Q10 has demonstrated activity in preventing lipid peroxidation as an antioxidant scavenger and an indirect stabilizer of calcium channels to decrease calcium overload.
Much of the basic research in support of coenzyme Q10 supplementation has focused on the CHF model. The myocardium of patients with CHF demonstrates increased oxidative stress as well as decreased concentrations of coenzyme Q10 as confirmed by tissue assays.8 These levels appear to correlate with CHF severity in the animal and human model, with coenzyme Q10 supplementation protecting against ischemia and reperfusion injury in animal studies.
Ubiquinol vs. Ubiquinone
Coenzyme Q10 can occur in multiple different forms in the body, and the two most abundant forms are oxidized CoQ10 (ubiquinone) and reduced CoQ10 (ubiquinol). Many people tend to prefer ubiquinol, due to its oxidation reducing effects in the body. However, due to this, the lesser desired ubiquinone often times gets overlooked. This is a shame because it actually has some very unique effects! Ubiquinone plays a major role in the electron transport chain, acting as a shuttle for cellular energy. Due to the fact that ubiquinone CoQ10 is hydrophobic and lipophilic, it can freely move between hydrophobic regions in the inner membranes of mitochondrion. It moves by way of passive diffusion, so no energy is needed to move CoQ10 around in the mitochondrion.
Ubiquinone stores energy temporarily, and is able to move it through the electron transport chain. It does this by attaching an electron to its benzoquinone head. It can accept electrons from various different systems, such as NADH-Q reductase. Ubiquinone transports these electrons from complex I and complex II of the electron transport chain, to complex III of the electron transport chain. While it does this, it also transports protons, which generates a proton gradient across the inner mitochondrial membrane. As these protons flow back across the inner mitochondrial membrane, it directly helps form adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This is in addition to ubiquinone already enhancing ATP synthesis by transporting electrons throughout the electron transport chain.
How To Take CoQ10?
The standard dose for CoQ10 is generally 90mg for a low dose and 200mg for the higher dose, taken once daily with a meal due to its reliance on food for absorption.
There generally isn’t too much of a therapeutic effect of CoQ10 supplementation (mostly taken with the ‘just in case’ mentality that pervades multivitamin supplementation), although for people who have previously experience a heart attack or damage to cardiac tissue as well as for people on statin therapy supplementation becomes much more important. CoQ10 supplements can be either the oxidized form (ubiquinone) or reduced form (ubiquinol) as both forms seem pretty equally potent in increasing circulating levels of total CoQ10 in the body. ‘Total CoQ10′ refers to the sum of both forms, since CoQ10 can readily swap between forms as it acts in the body. – Examine.com
Frequently Asked Questions
What is CoQ10?
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a natural antioxidant synthesized by the body, found in many foods, and available as a supplement. It comes in two forms: ubiquinol, the active antioxidant form, and ubiquinone, the oxidized form, which the body partially converts to ubiquinol. Many multi-ingredient supplements contain both forms of CoQ10. In general, coenzymes support enzymes in their various biochemical functions. CoQ10 is a vital participant in the chain of metabolic chemical reactions that generate energy within cells. It is found in every cell of the body (the name ubiquinone stems from its ubiquity), but is present in higher concentrations in organs with higher energy requirements such as the kidneys, liver, and heart. Many medical studies demonstrate CoQ10 benefits when taken as a supplement, most of which stem from its vital role in oxygen utilization and energy production, particularly in heart muscle cells.
Why is CoQ10 necessary?
Coenzyme Q10 is beneficial for heart health in many ways. It assists in maintaining the normal oxidative state of LDL cholesterol, helps assure circulatory health, and supports optimal functioning of the heart muscle. CoQ10 may also help support the health of vessel walls. In addition, Coenzyme Q10 may play a role in reducing the number and severity of migraine headaches, and improving sperm motility in men. Some research has indicated therapeutic value in high doses to slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease, but a 2011 study by the National Institute for Neurological Disease and Stroke found no benefit in slowing symptoms or neural degeneration. A few small clinical trials have indicated CoQ10 supplementation may help prevent and treat inflamed gums, a condition known as gingivitis.
What are the signs of a Coenzyme Q10 deficiency?
Studies in both animals and humans have associated significantly decreased levels of CoQ10 with a wide variety of diseases. Since this enzyme is found in high concentration in heart muscle cells, deficiency has been associated with cardiovascular problems including angina, arrhythmia, heart failure and high blood pressure. Problems with blood sugar regulation, gingival (gum) health, and stomach ulcers have also been associated with CoQ10 deficiency. Those who are taking statins to lower cholesterol are at particular risk for deficiency, because not only do statins reduce cholesterol levels, but they also block CoQ10 synthesis in the body. Low CoQ10 levels in patients on statins can contribute to the common side effects of statin therapy such as fatigue and aching joints and muscles.
How much, and what kind of Coenzyme Q10, does an adult need?
There is no official Daily Value recommendation, but its suggested at least 90 to 120 mg of supplemental CoQ10 for any adult taking statin medications and for those with a family history of heart problems, or who is at increased risk for cardiovascular disease. This dosage is also appropriate for otherwise healthy men and women as a preventive measure and to help maintain a healthy cardiovascular system. CoQ10 is fat-soluble, so take the supplement with a meal containing fat. Seek out the soft-gel ubiquinol form when taking CoQ10 as a standalone supplement, as this has greater antioxidant efficiency than the ubiquinone form.
Is COQ10 harmful?
Of course not! The coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is vital for human metabolism, and is best known for its roles in glucose and fatty acid conversion to ATP, the form of energy used to power most body functions and as a powerful antioxidant in cells, inhibiting lipid peroxidation in cell membranes, DNA and low-density lipoproteins (LDL). Studies show that when taken daily, CoQ10 supplements are capable of significantly reducing oxidative damage. Also note that CoQ10’s levels in skin decline with age, which may also make your skin more susceptible to oxidative damage. The key thing that impacts the effectiveness of CoQ10 supplements is that many of them have relatively poor bioavailability due to limited solubility. Thus, it is helpful to go for solubilized forms of CoQ10 which allow for 90-100 percent of dissolution, and which have been improved absorption.