What Is Coenzyme Q10? | Benefits, Side Effects & Dosage

“Functioning on low levels of Coenzyme Q10 would be similar to running a car on low-octane fuel”

What Is Coenzyme Q10?

Coenzyme Q10 is a compound that is naturally made in your body and found in every cell of all of the organs in your body – particularly the liver, heart, lungs and kidneys. Specifically, it is located in the mitochondria, which are responsible for producing energy in your cells as well as protecting your cells from viruses and oxidative damage and disease-causing bacteria.

Why is Coenzyme Q10 taken as a supplement by athletes and for daily wellbeing? Because its natural production in your body reduces as you get older, and so elderly people find themselves in shorter supply. This deficiency also extends to a deficiency of vitamin B6, which is needed for normal brain development and function, and helps your body make the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine, which influence mood, and melatonin, which helps regulate your body clock.

One of Coenzyme Q10’s main roles is its ability to assist in generating energy in your cells and its involvement in making adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

It’s also an excellent antioxidant, which protects your cells from oxidative damage, aka free radicals, which can affect the healthy functioning of your cells. Certain diseases have been linked to low levels of Coenzyme Q10 due to lower levels of ATP, which is a complex organic chemical that is integral in many of the body’s functions.

man with medicine ball

Coenzyme Q10 Benefits

Your athletic performance can be marred by oxidative stress and the function of your mitochondria. As your mitochondria play a role in producing energy, a malfunction could affect your muscles’ ability to contract along with your endurance. Coenzyme Q10 helps decrease oxidative stress and improves mitochondrial functions, which effectively reduces the threat of fatigue and increases your power and capacity for endurance.

Good For Your heart

High blood pressure among other heart conditions can increase oxidative damage and inflammation in your veins and arteries. Such condition can lead to heart failure when your heart is unable to contract and efficiently pump blood throughout your body.

In less severe cases, but of concern to your exercise, afflictions to your circulation means that oxygen and important nutrients cannot get to your muscles when they are in need – not to mention the lesser pump you will receive from all your reps. Coenzyme Q10 can limit and decrease the threat of heart failure by improving the function of your heart and increasing ATP production while, again, limiting oxidative damage.

Excellent For Fertility

Both sperm and eggs are put at risk by oxidative damage, which can be troubling for anyone trying to conceive. Fertility decreases with age for females due to the gradual, natural decline in their ability to produce eggs. Coenzyme Q10 plays a role in this process, so as those levels decrease with age so too does the production of quality eggs that are available. Supplementing with Coenzyme Q10, therefore, helps to reverse the decline that comes with age, while the antioxidant abilities of Coenzyme Q10 can help improve the quality of sperm.

Great For Young Skin

Coenzyme Q10, when applied to your skin, can help to counter the damage done by the sun among other harmful factors that your skin faces on a daily basis. And that’s just on the surface, inside hormonal imbalance and damage to your cells can harm your skin from within. Coenzyme Q10 increases the production of energy in your skin cells while reducing oxidative damage, which can help with the effects of UV rays and wrinkles.

Helps Headaches

The aforementioned abnormal functioning of your mitochondria can lead to an increased calcium uptake by your cells. This can result in low energy in the brain cells and is known as a cause of headaches and migraines, too. Coenzyme Q10’s presence in the mitochondria can, therefore, prevent and lessen the severity of migraines with its anti-inflammatory properties. Furthermore, while we’re looking at the head, Coenzyme Q10 has been proven to protect brain cells from oxidative damage and reduce the action of harmful compounds that can lead to brain disease.

Good News For Diabetics

Coenzyme Q10 supplementation can help to increase the body’s insulin sensitivity and improve blood sugar levels. It comes down to the damage to cells caused by oxidative stress, which can result in metabolic diseases such as diabetes. Coenzyme Q10 can potentially help keep diabetes at bay by stimulating the breakdown of fats and reducing the accumulation of fat cells that could lead to obesity or type 2 diabetes.

Coenzyme Q10 Side Effects

The good news is that for all of the many benefits, the side effects of Coenzyme Q10 are few and are not considered severe. Common side effects include heartburn, diarrhoea, vomiting and nausea. People with pre-existing health conditions such as heart failure, kidney and liver complications and diabetes are advised to proceed with caution, however, due to higher dosages’ effect on liver enzyme levels.

Coenzyme Q10 Dosage

Coenzyme Q10 comes in standard dosages from 90 mg to 200 mg per day. Doses of up to 500 mg are widely tolerated, though the aforementioned effect on liver enzyme levels is known to occur upon doses of around 300mg. Coenzyme Q10 is a fat-soluble compound, and as such is slowly absorbed by your digestive system. Supplementation can help, as when Coenzyme Q10 is taken alongside a healthy diet it can increase the rate of absorption.

Coenzyme Q10 Foods

Coenzyme Q10 can be naturally sourced from foods. To ensure you are getting a healthy balance in your diet, heart, liver and kidney meats, beef, sardines and mackerel are all top sources. For vegetarians, products containing soy and peanuts are excellent choices.

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Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.

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Faye Reid

Faye Reid

Writer and expert

Faye Reid has a Bachelor of Science in Sport and Exercise Physiology and a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology and Sports Nutrition. Faye has worked with numerous high-profile organisations, such as Men's Health, Sky Sports, Huddersfield Giants, Warrington Wolves, British Dressage and GB Rowing, providing her expert sports science support. Find out more about Faye's experience here: She puts her passion into practice as goal attack for her netball team, and in competitive event riding.

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