What Is Coenzyme Q10 Used For? Health Benefits, Side Effects & Drug Interactions

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Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an antioxidant and a popular supplement in alternative and holistic medicine.

Learn more about this substance, which is sold as a dietary supplement, its potential health benefits, what foods contain it and about its safety.

What is Coenzyme Q10?

CoQ10 is a substance that helps convert food into energy, according to a Mount Sinai overview. An antioxidant, it helps prevent or reduce damage to your cells.

"Antioxidants fight damaging particles in the body known as free radicals," Mount Sinai explained, adding: "Scientists believe free radicals contribute to the aging process, as well as a number of health problems, including heart disease and cancer. Antioxidants, such as CoQ10, can neutralize free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause."

In the body, CoQ10 is mostly found in the heart, brain, muscles and liver, according to Dr. Chiti Parikh, a New York City-based specialist in internal medicine. Levels of the enzyme decrease with age.

Like other antioxidants, CoQ10 is found in many foods, especially fruits and vegetables.

Potential health benefits of Coenzyme Q10

Some studies have shown that CoQ10 benefits people with congestive heart failure, according to Parikh, executive director of the Integrative Health and Wellbeing Program at New York-Presbyterian, in collaboration with Weill Cornell Medicine.

Other studies have found the enzyme offers modest help in lowering cholesterol and blood sugar, reducing migraine, boosting energy and fertility, she added.

Coenzyme Q10 foods

Parikh said these foods are good sources of CoQ10:

  • Organ meats (like liver)

  • Fatty fish such as sardines

  • Salmon

  • Broccoli

  • Spinach

  • Cauliflower

Other foods may contain smaller amounts of CoQ10.

Most people who eat a balanced diet generally get enough CoQ10, according to Mount Sinai.

Safety of Coenzyme Q10

CoQ10 supplements appear to be safe, according to the Mayo Clinic. But its safety during pregnancy and breastfeeding has not been established.

Side effects of Coenzyme Q10

While CoQ10 appears to be safe, there is the potential for side effects.

Parikh cited these:

  • Nausea

  • Diarrhea

  • Insomnia

Mount Sinai points out that CoQ10 may lower blood sugar, so people with diabetes should talk with a health care provider before taking it. There is also evidence it may lower blood pressure.

“It is recommended that supplements be taken with foods,” Parikh said. “[Take a coenzyme Q10 supplement] in the morning and in divided doses to minimize side effects.”

Potential drug interactions of Coenzyme Q10

The U.S. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health notes that CoQ10 may interact with the blood thinner warfarin and the diabetes drug insulin. It may also be incompatible with some cancer treatments.

And some medications can affect CoQ10 levels in the body.

“Certain medications — such as cholesterol-lowering drugs, statins, beta blockers and certain antidepressant and antipsychotic medications — can reduce the level of CoQ10 in the body,” Parikh said. “People who are on these medications can discuss with their physicians to see if CoQ10 supplementation is right for them.”


For adults, the recommended dose for CoQ10 supplementation is 30 to 200 mg daily, according to Mount Sinai. Higher doses may be recommended for specific conditions. Because CoQ10 is fat soluble, it should be taken with a meal containing fat so your body can absorb it. Taking it at night may help the body's ability to use it, Mount Sinai adds.

What a doctor says

As always, when you are considering a nutrition supplement, talk to your health care provider first to see if it is right for you.

Bottom line

CoQ10 supplements help prevent disease and cellular aging, but evidence that they will prevent or ease symptoms of specific diseases is too limited for conclusions to be drawn, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

SOURCE: Chiti Parikh, MD, executive director, Integrative Health and Wellbeing Program, New York-Presbyterian, in collaboration with Weill Cornell Medicine, New York City


National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: Coenzyme Q10.

Mayo Clinic: Coenzyme Q10

Mount Sinai: Coenzyme Q10

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