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Coenzyme Q10 Health Benefits

Coenzyme Q10 (also known as ubiquinone) is a fat soluble antioxidant found in all cells and cellular membranes of the body. The highest concentrations are found in cells that require the highest amount of energy, such as the heart, liver, kidneys, and skeletal muscles (Connolly, 2007).

This is because coenzyme Q10 functions as a cofactor in the electron transport chain of mitochondria. Mitochondria are responsible for enery production in cells. What this means is that coenzyme Q10 functions to carry electrons to assist in the formation of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is the molecule responsible for cellular energy. In adults, the amount of coenzyme Q10 is estimated to be between 0.5 and 1.5 grams, with about half of it found within the mitochondria (Connolly, 2007).

It is manufactured in the body from the amino acid tyrosine in the presence of vitamin B6. As people age, their ability to synthesize coenzyme Q10 decreases. This is thought to be due in part (but not entirely) because elderly people are often deficient in vitamin B6, which is necessary for coenzyme Q10 synthesis.

Health Benefits of Coenzyme Q10

  • Treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease and arrythmias
  • Lowers high blood pressure
  • May reduce the side effects of chemotherapy
  • Stimulates the immune system
  • Increases tissue oxygenation
  • Has anti-aging properties due to it's antioxidant activity
  • May enhance athletic performance (not all studies have found this)
  • Has neuroprotective effects

Coenzyme Q10 deficiency has been implicated in:

  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Periodontal disease
  • Diabetes

Sources of Coenzyme Q10:

  • Fish, such as mackerel, sardines, and salmon
  • Meat
  • Peanuts
  • Spinach

Fish and meat sources provide the highest amount of dietary coenzyme Q10. You can also take supplements. Typically, coenzyme Q10 supplements are sold in 30, 50, and 100 mg softgels that often contain a small amount of soybean or other oil. Because coenzyme Q10 is soluble in fat, it will be more easily absorbed in the presence of oil. It is best taken with a meal, especially if the meal contains some fat.

Coenzyme Q10 Side Effects

Coenzyme Q10 has been shown to be safe when taken in doses under 600 mg per day and there are no significant side effects to report. One study reported that coenzyme Q10 supplementation was safe for healthy adults at intakes up to 900 mg per day (Ikematsu et al., 2006). However, this study only lasted 4 weeks and so taking high doses for long periods of time could lead to health problems later on. The recommended dose for beneficial health effects is 100 mg (or less) per day.

A few people have reported gastrointestinal side effects, but most people do not have these effects. However, there was one study that reported that glucose levels were lower after taking coenzyme Q10 and so persons taking oral hypoglycemics or insulin for diabetes should use caution in using coenzyme Q10 supplements. Before taking any supplement for any health problem you should consult your physician.


Connolly, K. (2007). Ubiquinol: The other half of the CoQ10 story. Total Health 29: 24-25.

Ikematsua, H., Nakamurab, K., Harashimaa, S., Fujiic, K. (2006). Safety assessment of coenzyme Q10 (Kaneka Q10) in healthy subjects: A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology 44:212-218.