What is Coenzyme Q10?


You may have heard of Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). Your physician may have even recommended that you take this over-the-counter supplement. But exactly what purpose does it serve?

Coenzyme Q10 is naturally made by the body and can be taken as a pill or injection. Studies have shown it can help protect the heart from damaging side effects of medication and can potentially stimulate the immune system in cancer patients.

CoQ10 is a compound that is made in the body. CoQ10 is also known by the following names:

  • Q10
  • Vitamin Q10
  • Ubiquinone
  • Ubidecarenone
The body uses it for cell growth and to protect cells from damage. The body's cells use CoQ10 to make energy needed for the cells to grow and stay healthy. The body also uses CoQ10 as an antioxidant. An antioxidant protects cells from chemicals called free radicals.

CoQ10 is found in most body tissues. The highest amounts are found in the heart, liver, kidneys, and pancreas. The lowest amounts are found in the lungs. CoQ10 decreases in the body as people get older.

Clinical trials have shown some benefits from using CoQ10, but the trials have been limited to small sizes. Therefore, it is not clear if the benefits reported were from the CoQ10 therapy.

Always check with your doctor before taking any supplements. CoQ10 may not mix safely with other drugs. It is important that patients tell their health care providers about all drugs they are taking.

You can find CoQ10 at most drugstores. It is is sold as a dietary supplement rather than a drug and is not regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration. Additionally, all supplements have side effects. Reported side effects from the use of CoQ10 include:
  • High levels of liver enzymes
  • Nausea
  • Heartburn
  • Headache
  • Pain in the upper part of the abdomen
  • Dizziness
  • Rashes
  • Unable to fall sleep or stay asleep
  • Feeling very tired
  • Feeling irritable
  • Sensitivity to light
It is important to check with your doctor to find out if CoQ10 can be safely used with other drugs. Certain drugs, such as those that are used to lower cholesterol, blood pressure, or blood sugar levels, may decrease the effects of CoQ10. CoQ10 may change the way the body uses warfarin (a drug that prevents the blood from clotting) and insulin.

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