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Coenzyme Q10: 10 Health benefits backed by science

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Coenzyme Q10: 10 Health benefits backed by science

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Coenzyme Q10 commonly known as CoQ10 is a natural fat-soluble antioxidant found in meat, organs, fish, oils, nuts, and seeds (1).

It is also one of the most consumed dietary supplements in the world. It is available in the market as the reduced form (ubiquinol) as well as the oxidized form (ubiquinone).  

Both forms readily interchange in our bodies and perform vital functions.  

Ubiquinone is essential for the production of ATP, the energy source in the body. Ubiquinol acts as an antioxidant and has shown tremendous health benefits (2).

There are many health benefits of CoQ10 but the 10 most relevant health benefits confirmed by research are described below. 

1) CoQ10 acts as a strong antioxidant to Lower oxidative stress

Oxidative stress is one of the main causes of major diseases e.g. cardiovascular diseases and neurological diseases (3).

CoQ10 is a strong antioxidant with free radical scavenging capabilities. This lowers the oxidative stress in the cells (4).

CoQ10 is effective in protecting cell membrane and lipoproteins from oxidative damage (5).

The antioxidant activity of CoQ10 comes from its reduced form (ubiquinol) that can lower oxidative stress conditions. It can also help convert vitamins C and E back to their active forms (6).

CoQ10 effectively protects the peroxidation of LDL via its antioxidant function (7).

And in supplement form, it protects DNA damage from oxidative stress in human lymphocytes (8).

CoQ10 has strong antioxidant potential which is important for human health.

2) CoQ10 may reduce inflammation in the body

A strong antioxidant function also gives CoQ10 the ability to act as an anti-inflammatory agent. It can control the gene expression of vital pathways to induce anti-inflammatory effects (9).

Several studies have proven the effect of CoQ10 in reducing inflammation. 

In laboratory settings, the application of CoQ10 on human skin cells showed a marked reduction in pro-inflammatory indicators such as PGE-2, IL-1, and IL-6 (10).

In type-2 diabetes patients, combined use of metformin and CoQ10 significantly decreased inflammatory indicators. This also significantly improved endothelial function(11). A proper endothelial function is important for cardiovascular health.

In a randomized, double-blind placebo control study, multiple sclerosis patients who received CoQ10 had a significant decrease in inflammatory indicators including TNF alpha and IL-6 (12).

In mildly hypertensive patients, daily supplementation of 100 mg coenzyme Q10 reduced pro-inflammatory indicators IL6 and hs-CRP (13).

A study tested the effects of the Mediterranean diet and CoQ10 supplement. The use of CoQ10 in the elderly significantly lowered the expression of pro-inflammatory indicators (14).

CoQ10 use may reduce the expression of pro-inflammatory indicators. This protects from chronic inflammation which can be detrimental to the body.  

3) CoQ10 is good for heart health

The role of CoQ10 in heart health has been extensively studied. 

Research shows that CoQ supplementation use can be beneficial in reducing morbidity and mortality in patients with heart failure or cardiovascular events but clinical data is insufficient (15,16,17).

Strong anti-oxidant and anti-inflammation functions are largely responsible for heart health (18). Additionally, CoQ10 also improves endothelial function by improving nitric oxide bioavailability (19).

Low CoQ10 plasma levels were observed in patients with coronary artery disease and higher levels of CoQ10 were associated with a lower risk of coronary artery disease (20).

CoQ10 supplementation in patients with coronary artery disease reduced oxidative stress and enhanced antioxidant enzymes such as CAT (catalase) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) (21).

Coronary artery disease patients receiving statin therapy with CoQ10 supplement also had lower inflammation due to increased anti-oxidation (22).

A meta-analysis of several randomized control trials concluded that CoQ10 supplement use resulted in improved ejection fraction in congestive heart failure conditions (23).

Another comprehensive multinational study found that long-term use of CoQ10 (ubiquinol) in patients with chronic heart failure decreased cardiovascular mortality and all-cause mortality (24).

Combined use of omega-3 and CoQ10 significantly reduced triglycerides levels as well as inflammatory indicators in dyslipidemia patients receiving statin therapy (25).

A study found a significant reduction in arterial fibrillation in patients with heart failure after CoQ10 (30 mg/day for 1 year) use (26).

A 10 years long study in the Swedish population found that the use of 200 mg/day CoQ10 and 200 µg/day selenium for 4 years significantly reduced cardiovascular-related death (27).

Current research shows that the anti-oxidant ability of CoQ10 is potent in improving heart conditions. CoQ10 supplement use produced promising results in heart patients. So supplement use can beneficial. 

4) CoQ10 can help with male and female infertility

Oxidative stress is considered one of the major reasons for both male and female infertility (28,29).

Potential strategies to deal with infertility involve the use of antioxidants. 

For female infertility, a few studies have been done in the context of in-vitro fertilization (IVF). The use of CoQ10 is associated with decreased oxidative stress, increased ovarian reserve capacity, and high-quality embryos (30,31,32).

For male infertility, the use of 200 mg/day CoQ10 for 3 months significantly improved sperm parameters (sperm concentration and sperm motility) with reduced oxidative stress in infertile patients with Idiopathic Oligoasthenozoospermia (33).

Other research found similar results of improvement in sperm motility after CoQ10 use (34).

The use of CoQ10 (ubiquinol) in combination with other micronutrients is beneficial to enhance sperm parameters.

For example, the use of 200mg/day CoQ10 in combination with 2.66g/day Aspartic acid for 3 months was effective in improving sperm parameters (35).

The use of Carni-Q-Nol, which has CoQ10 ubiquinol, l-carnitine fumarate, vitamin C, and E, for 6 months resulted in significant improvement in sperm parameters as well as increased pregnancies (36). Another study showed that CoQ10 with vitamin C and E was effective as well (37).

Research shows that the use of CoQ10 improves in-vitro fertilization results in female infertility treatment. For male infertility treatment, the use of CoQ10 in combination with vitamin C and E significantly can improve sperm parameters.

5) CoQ10 can improve athletic performance

Animal studies show that the use of CoQ10 preserved the muscle damage caused by mild exercise (38).

Intense exercise increases:

  • oxidative stress,
  • cellular inflammation, and
  • potential muscle loss (39).

The low levels of active form ubiquinol are associated with age-related muscle weakness and reduced muscle mass in humans (40).

CoQ10 intake before strenuous physical exercise reduced oxidative stress, inflammatory indicators, and muscle damage (41).

2-week use of 200mg/day ubiquinol supplement in men before performing intense exercise resulted in increased muscle recovery and anti-inflammatory indicators (42).

Some studies found that the use of ubiquinol in healthy individuals did not result in higher physical performance. Although, an increase in the anti-oxidant effect was observed (43,44).

The active form ubiquinol increases recovery, decreases inflammatory indicators and oxidative stress. It may also improve physical performance.

6) CoQ10 can improve glycemic control in diabetes

Increased oxidative stress is associated with increased insulin resistance and thus leads to worsening of the diabetes condition (45).

In type 2 diabetes patients, plasma CoQ10 levels decrease with the increase in oxidative stress indicator MDA (46).

Low plasma levels of ubiquinol compared to ubiquinone were found in type 2 diabetes patients (47). And high ubiquinone compared to ubiquinol levels were observed in type 2 diabetes patients (48).

Some studies have found no positive effect of CoQ10 use in improving glycemic control in diabetes patients (49,50).

But it is important to note that ubiquinone was used in many of these studies. In diabetes and another disease, the ability to convert ubiquinone into ubiquinol decreases (51).

Considering these studies, ubiquinol may provide necessary benefits in diabetes.  

Oral supplementation of ubiquinol in addition to medication improves glycemic control by improving insulin secretion (52).

Therefore, studies with the use of ubiquinol in the context of diabetes may provide a better understanding. 

CoQ10 due to its strong antioxidant activity can improve glycemic controls. It appears that ubiquinol use may provide benefits in diabetes.  

7) CoQ10 can reduce cancer progress and cell damage after chemotherapy

Low CoQ10 level is observed in some cancer cells, cancer tissue, and some melanomas compared to normal cells (53,54).

Antioxidant status is increased in tumor cells due to the body’s response to protect cells. Also, chemotherapy drug use increases the CoQ10 levels in isolated cancer cells, perhaps due to the protection mechanism from chemotherapy drugs (55).

Therefore, CoQ10 supplements may be useful to increase chemotherapy tolerance (56).

Research shows that heart cell damage can be reduced by using CoQ10 during chemotherapy treatment (57). Breast cancer metastasis, cancer concurrence were reduced along with cancer indicators after the use of CoQ10, riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin(vitamin B3), and tamoxifen (58).

Current studies show that the use of CoQ10 may be beneficial in cancer because of its strong anti-oxidant effects. However, large-scale robust studies are needed.

8) CoQ10 can protect against neurodegenerative diseases

Currently, CoQ10 and its analogs are the potential candidates to treat certain neurodegenerative diseases. 

Diseases that may benefit from CoQ10 supplements include Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (59,60).

Laboratory studies show CoQ10 has nerve cells protection capabilities under oxidative stress conditions (61).

In animals, the use of CoQ10 was sufficient to protect the cells from damage in Alzheimer’s disease model (62).

Research also found a reduction in amyloid plaques (Alzheimer’s disease indicators) in animals treated with CoQ10 compared to no use (63,64).

A Japanese study showed that in humans, low serum levels are associated with dementia. Therefore, CoQ10 serum levels can be used as a predictor for the onset of dementia (65).

In humans, no solid evidence of CoQ10 protection in neurodegeneration exists despite a tremendous positive correlation between CoQ10 supplement and protection from neurodegenerative diseases in laboratory and animals studies (66).

Current laboratory and animal studies show that CoQ10 can protect against neurodegenerative diseases but no human study has definitively shown this effect. 

9) CoQ10 can improve skin health and has skin anti-aging potential

The level of CoQ10 is decreased in skin cells as we age. Damage due to UV light can be reduced by increasing CoQ10 levels via topical application (67). That’s why many skincare creams and lotions use CoQ10 as an ingredient.

The use of topical CoQ10 can improve its levels in the skin, skin cell energy metabolism, and oxidative status (68). CoQ10 use may be beneficial as a skin anti-aging agent (69).

A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study showed that the daily use of 50 and 150 mg highly bioavailable water-soluble CoQ10 (Q10Vital) for 12 weeks significantly reduced wrinkles and microrelief lines and improved skin smoothness but it did not affect hydration or skin thickness (70).

A randomized control study found that the use of CoQ10, selenium, vitamin E improved severe skin psoriasis condition (71).

CoQ10 is beneficial for improving skin cell metabolism and skin conditions by restoring antioxidation. Currently, CoQ10 is being used in skin creams.

10) CoQ10 can lower blood pressure and help with hypertension condition

CoQ10 can provide benefits for hypertension due to its strong anti-oxidative stress (72).

A meta-analysis of 12 clinical trials shows that the use of CoQ10 has the potential to lower blood pressure without any adverse side effects (73).

A randomized, double-blinded controlled study in patients with hyperlipidemia and heart conditions found that the use of 200 mg/day CoQ10 for 12-weeks was effective in lowering blood pressure (74).

CoQ10 use lowered blood pressure by reducing oxidative stress in patients with coronary artery disease  (75).

Some have found no effect of CoQ10 use on blood pressure in patients who did not suffer from hypertension but had health conditions such as obesity and type 2 diabetes (76,77).

Another meta-analysis of randomized control trials concluded that the use of CoQ10 supplementation can significantly improve the endothelial function which has implications for hypertension (78).

CoQ10 has the potential to lower blood pressure. It can help with hypertension due to its strong antioxidant function. 

The Gist

CoQ10 is one of the most used dietary supplements in the world. 

It has several health benefits. Most of the health benefits of CoQ10 come from its strong antioxidant potential. 

So far, it has shown benefits in cardiovascular diseases, fertility, skin health, neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes, and athletic performance.

CoQ10 and vitamins e.g. vitamin B, C, and E elicit a strong antioxidant effect that can help with reducing oxidative stress and inflammation.