CoQ10 Benefits: A Brief Overview
The term “coenzyme” refers to any substance which plays a role in energy production. There are several forms of coenzyme, but they all have one thing in common: They’re substances that your body produces naturally when it needs energy.
Your liver makes them from fatty acids and amino acids, while other tissues such as muscles make them from proteins or carbohydrates.
In general, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is found in high concentrations in red blood cells, platelets, erythrocytes (blood plasma), and brain tissue. The main function of CoQ10 is to help convert nutrients into energy.
That’s why it helps maintain normal bodily functions like heart rate and blood pressure. It also helps with the production of hormones such as testosterone and estrogen. It’s also involved in DNA repair and cell growth.
CoQ10 Side Effects
There are no known side effects associated with taking coenzyme Q10 supplements. However, there may be some minor side effects if you take too much of the supplement.
These include stomach upset, diarrhea, vomiting, headache and dizziness. If these symptoms occur after taking a small amount of the supplement, then it probably isn’t enough to cause problems. If you experience severe stomach problems, however, then you should seek immediate medical attention.
Since there are no known major side effects of taking this supplement, it is considered to be safe to take for most people. The supplement can’t hurt you and may help with a number of different issues, so there’s little cause for concern unless you’re allergic to any of the ingredients.
If you are currently taking any medications or have any allergies, you should consult with your doctor before starting this or any other supplement. Pregnant and nursing women should not take this supplement until speaking with their doctor.
In order for your body to properly absorb the nutrients in a supplement, it’s important for you to take it on an empty stomach. Taking this supplement with food may actually prevent your body from absorbing the nutrients at all.
If you take your CoQ10 in the morning, it’s best to take it before breakfast. Wait at least one hour before eating your morning meal (unless, of course, you’re eating a supplement as well).
You may also want to divide your daily dose into two smaller doses taken with meals. This will help you to avoid taking too much if you have trouble controlling your portions.
As a general rule, always check the label of any supplements you take to see if there are any necessary preparation instructions. This is especially important for liquid supplements or those that have a strong taste (such as fish oils).
The brand matters when it comes to taking supplements because different brands contain different ingredients in different quantities. Always be sure to read the label of whatever brand you buy so you know exactly what is -and what is not- in the supplement and in what amount.
Choosing a CoQ10 Supplement
There are many different types of CoQ10 supplements on the market. Some are specifically designed for certain conditions and others are more general.
The best thing to do is to speak with your doctor about the different options available and what might be the best one for you. If you’d rather choose your own, then proceed with caution and consult your physician if you have any concerns at all.
Natural vs Synthetic
There are two different types of coenzyme Q10 supplements, natural and synthetic. While the natural one is obviously made through a process that mimics how it’s produced in the body naturally, the synthetic one is created in the laboratory through a chemical process.
There has been debate over which is better since some research seems to indicate that the natural version is better utilized by the body while other research claims there is no difference.
Free radicals are a natural by-product of energy generation in the cells of the body. Although free radicals can be dangerous, they normally exist in balance with antioxidants in the body.
Free radicals are neutralized by antioxidants, which include vitamins C and E and coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). As we grow older, our bodies produce less CoQ10, which is why many older adults experience less energy and stamina. The body’s organs rely most heavily on energy, so they require the most CoQ10 to function properly.
The pancreas, heart and brain have the highest concentrations of CoQ10. That’s why people who take CoQ10 supplements often report positive effects on those body parts.
Common effects of CoQ10 supplementation include:
Replenishes CoQ10 in vital organs, such as the heart
Boosts energy and stamina
Improves overall well-being and health
The amount of CoQ10 your body can synthesize is limited by your genetics. Although some people can produce more than others, even high producers will still experience less energy and stamina as they grow older if they don’t take CoQ10 in supplement form.
Your body can’t produce an unlimited amount of CoQ10 either. You have a limited supply that won’t regenerate once it’s gone.
Natural vs. Synthetic Forms
Coenzyme Q10 comes in two forms: Natural and Synthetic. Both forms have pros and cons.
Natural forms are produced by the human body and some foods, such as meats, contain them. Natural forms are also what your body is used to, so they typically are better absorbed by the body.
These supplements typically contain bioactive coenzyme Q10, meaning they have an effect on blood pressure and cholesterol levels when taken in conjunction with a daily statin medication.
Bioactive Coenzyme Q10 is fat soluble, which means it needs to be taken with a source of fat in order to maximize the absorption of the supplement. This can either be in the form of a diet that is high in fat or a supplement like fish oil or flaxseed oil.
Natural CoQ10 is made by biosynthesizing yeast. The yeast converts sugar into Q10, which then gets harvested and converted into bioactive and non-bioactive forms of CoQ10.
Although this process is not perfect, it allows for an affordable supplement that is readily available.
Synthetic forms of CoQ10 are not made by the human body, and there is no dietary source for this version. It’s usually made through chemical processes such as synthesizing it from plants or petroleum.
Because it is not made by the body, it requires a different production process, which some claim to be more complicated and costly.
Synthetic CoQ10 supplements are known as ubiquinone because they contain a keto group. This process produces a supplement that is more easily absorbed by the body and can be found in higher concentrations in the blood.
However, unlike the natural form, ubiquinone does not exist in the body or have any known function.
Coenzyme Q10 Warnings
Coenzyme Q10 supplements should not be taken by people who are already getting an adequate amount of the nutrient from their diet. This includes people who consistently eat a lot of meat, which is the best dietary source of CoQ10.
Taking too much CoQ10 can have negative effects, so always follow the directions on the package or consult your physician before taking any supplement.
Coenzyme Q10 can worsen the effects of some chemotherapy drugs and should be avoided by people undergoing cancer treatments.
Sources & references used in this article:
A randomized trial of coenzyme Q10 in patients with confirmed statin myopathy by BA Taylor, L Lorson, CM White, PD Thompson – Atherosclerosis, 2015 – Elsevier
Increased oxidative stress and coenzyme Q10 deficiency in juvenile fibromyalgia: amelioration of hypercholesterolemia and fatigue by ubiquinol-10 supplementation by T Miyamae, M Seki, T Naga, S Uchino, H Asazuma… – Redox …, 2013 – Taylor & Francis
Coenzyme Q10 Status as a Determinant of Muscular Strength in Two Independent Cohorts by A Fischer, S Onur, P Niklowitz, T Menke, M Laudes… – PLoS …, 2016 – journals.plos.org
Plasma coenzyme Q10 response to oral ingestion of coenzyme Q10 formulations by HN Bhagavan, RK Chopra – Mitochondrion, 2007 – Elsevier
Coenzyme Q10 changes are associated with metabolic syndrome by MV Miles, JA Morrison, PS Horn, PH Tang, AJ Pesce – Clinica Chimica Acta, 2004 – Elsevier
Coenzyme Q10 supplementation in aging and disease by JD Hernández-Camacho, M Bernier… – Frontiers in …, 2018 – frontiersin.org