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CoQ10 is short for coenzyme Q10. A coenzyme is a molecule that does nothing on its own but may play an essential role in processes involving enzymes. That’s certainly the case with CoQ10, which is found in nearly all our cells. Our mitochondria depend on it to both produce energy (in the form of adenosine triphosphate or ATP) and clean up some of the toxins created by the energy production process (acting as an antioxidant).

Several sources state that its functions are similar to those of vitamins – but it’s not a vitamin, because our cells can’t synthesize vitamins. Some say that we get about 25% of our CoQ10 from diet, with our bodies manufacturing the rest.

However, according to a review by Mantle and Dybring, nearly all of our CoQ10 is produced within the cells. Only about 1% of what’s required (which is estimated to be about 500 mg/day) comes from our diet. Unfortunately, the body’s ability to synthesize CoQ10 is thought to peak in our mid-twenties and gradually but continually declines from there.

CoQ10 in Your Body

CoQ10 is quite an amazing substance. It can regenerate vitamins C and E (both antioxidants), bringing them back to their active forms. It maintains the integrity of cell membranes. It’s the only fat-soluble antioxidant manufactured within the human body capable of protecting lipids (fats), proteins, and DNA from oxidative damage. Because it’s so important to the mitochondria (the powerhouses of the cell), a deficiency could cause serious problems. Aging and aging-related conditions are associated with mitochondrial dysfunction, and insufficient levels of CoQ10 could accelerate that process.

Adding it to cultured cells increases their resistance to something called “ferroptosis”, a type of cell death. A gene-expression profiling study demonstrated that it influences the expression of several hundred human genes. There seems to be an affinity for genes involved in chronic inflammation. This, combined with its role in so many mitochondrial functions, suggests that it might be the best antioxidant to supplement.

Potential Benefits

Studies have shown that CoQ10 can reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and heart-related complications. Researchers believe that one of the ways it accomplishes this is by protecting low-density lipoprotein (LDL) particles from free radical damage; CoQ10 is a master antioxidant.

There’s also preliminary evidence that it may help to prevent or treat the adverse effects of taking statins (a type of drug used to lower cholesterol) and reduce harmful compounds that could increase your risk of neurodegenerative diseases. If you’re taking statins, you might consider supplementing with selenium (1) and K2 (2) as well, as studies indicate they deplete both.

CoQ10 may even support both male and female fertility, potentially improving sperm activity and concentration and helping to stop (or even reverse) the decline in egg quantity and quality as women age. The studies are preliminary, however; more and better research is needed in these areas.

According to a study done on 100 aging female white mice (16 to 18 months old), CoQ10 may even help you (or at least the mice!) live longer.

The 50 mice who were given CoQ10 lived longer, healthier lives. 30 weeks into the experiment, the fur on the control mice was dull, coarse, and matted. Some had bald spots. They were listless, spending most of their time lying around. The lucky ones who received CoQ10 had smooth, soft fur and were more active. At 36 weeks, all 50 from the control group had died – but 40% of the CoQ10 group were still alive and looking younger than they should. At 56 weeks, 10% were still alive and thriving.

CoQ10’s Essential Role in Energy Production

As you can see, CoQ10’s potential benefits are vast. One of its most essential functions is to support the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy that drives so many of the processes within our cells. It acts as an electron carrier for a process known as the electron transport chain, which takes place within the cell’s mitochondria. This is a complex process that involves electrons being released from certain types of molecules, transported to where they’re needed, and received by another type of molecule. (Protons are also released, but that’s a story – and a process – of its own.)

During this process, CoQ10 alternates between its fully oxidized state, when it’s known as ubiquinone, and its fully reduced state, known as ubiquinol. The difference between the two is the addition (or subtraction) of a single hydrogen molecule. Ubiquinol later acts as an antioxidant, cleaning up some of the free radicals generated during the process.

Who Might Need More CoQ10

As you can see, CoQ10 plays some extremely important roles in our bodies. Most sources state that a slow decline in volume begins while we’re still in our twenties, though there are some questions as to whether aging is the only factor. In one analysis, the correlation with age disappeared when cholesterol levels were taken into account.

Medications can also deplete our levels. According to Ross Pelton, author of The Drug-Induced Nutrient Depletion Handbook, 11 classes of drugs deplete CoQ10:

  • Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT),
  • Oral contraceptives,
  • Statins,
  • Tricyclic antidepressants,
  • Adrenergic stimulants,
  • Thiazide diuretics,
  • Beta-blockers,
  • Oral hypoglycemics,
  • Sulfonylureas and biguanides,
  • Antipsychotics, and
  • Most chemotherapy drugs.

Taking any of these drugs may make you deficient in coenzyme Q10; so can certain medical conditions.

Does the research support taking a supplement?

There are plenty of conflicting research results regarding CoQ10’s effects. While there are clear anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular benefits, research into other conditions fails to give definitive answers.

In a review article published in 2021, Pallotti et al. shared their perspective on the problem. They mentioned two issues: its low bioavailability and the sheer volume of changes that take place when CoQ10 levels decrease. In their words: “…the study of the pathological implications due to ubiquinone depletion appears extremely complicated.” That makes it hard to study. And because it’s hard to study, it’s tough to develop a good treatment plan for specific problems.

But there’s an important clue in that explanation: “the sheer volume of changes”. CoQ10’s two main forms, ubiquinone and ubiquinol, come from the word “ubiquitous”, meaning “everywhere at once”. Its presence in all (or nearly all) our cells may make CoQ10 hard to study – but even harder to ignore.

Which form is better?

CoQ10’s bioavailability is quite low. Ubiquinol seems to be better absorbed than ubiquinone, but it’s also more expensive. Some companies offer more bioavailable versions of ubiquinone. Their methods range from the simple (adding piperine, a substance extracted from black pepper that’s often used to increase the bioavailability of turmeric) to the complex. One company uses a patented process to reduce crystallization, which hinders absorption. The use of protein nanoparticles is also under investigation (3).

Absorption also decreases as the dosage increases, so taking it in divided doses can help. It should also be taken with a meal that includes fat.

Side Effects and Safety

According to WebMD, most side effects are mild. Potential problems include digestive issues, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, diarrhea, nausea, and heartburn. Other sources have pointed out that taking too large a dose can give you too much energy. For that reason, children should not take CoQ10 unless prescribed by a doctor.

For some, however, there are more serious risks. WebMD warns of potential issues for anyone who:

  • Has experienced heart failure,
  • Has liver problems,
  • Has diabetes,
  • Are you pregnant or breastfeeding,
  • Takes blood thinners, thyroid medication, or
  • is receiving chemotherapy.

If you’re on this list, it’s important to consult your doctor before taking a CoQ10 supplement.


Researchers suggest we need about 500 mg of CoQ10 daily. Since our bodies produce most of it, how much you need depends on how well your body produces it and, of course, the bioavailability of your supplement. When choosing your dosage, consider what you hope to gain. If you’re taking it for a general longevity boost, you might start with a low dose, such as 50 or 100 mg a day.

If you’re suffering from chronic inflammation or taking medication that depletes CoQ10, you may want to take more or invest in a product with increased bioavailability. If you think you may have a deficiency, consider a blood test. It won’t tell you whether your organs and tissues are getting what they need, but at least you’ll know how much is in your bloodstream.

Research suggests that supplementing up to 1200 mg a day is safe in the long term, although higher amounts have been used – under a doctor’s care – for specific conditions.

If you’d like to try it out, here are three options to consider:

  • If you want to keep it simple, you could try Doctor’s Best. They add a patented form of piperine to ubiquinone to increase bioavailability.
  • If you’d rather try ubiquinol, here’s one from NOW. These 50 mg soft gels make it easy to take divided doses and find the amount that works for you. They’ve also added d-limonene to increase bioavailability.
  • If you want to go whole hog on bioavailability, you could try Pharma Nord’s Bio-Quinone. You can read all about it on the product page.

CoQ10 for Longevity

CoQ10 plays a crucial role in the human body. It influences the expression of hundreds of genes. It’s a master antioxidant that fights inflammation. It’s essential to the cell’s energy production process. It even protects the heart (and possibly other organs and systems) from damage. Medications (including statins, hormone replacement therapy, and tricyclic antidepressants) deplete it, and we seem to produce less as the years go by.   

It sounds like just what we need to improve the length – and more importantly, the quality – of our lives.

Read more

Get Energized With CoQ10

Pallotti F, Bergamini C, Lamperti C, Fato R. The Roles of Coenzyme Q in Disease: Direct and Indirect Involvement in Cellular Functions. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Dec 23;23(1):128. doi: 10.3390/ijms23010128. PMID: 35008564; PMCID: PMC8745647.
Pelton R. Coenzyme Q10: A Miracle Nutrient Advances in Understanding. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2020 Apr;19(2):16-20. PMID: 33041702; PMCID: PMC7482328.
Mantle D, Dybring A. Bioavailability of Coenzyme Q10: An Overview of the Absorption Process and Subsequent Metabolism. Antioxidants (Basel). 2020 May 5;9(5):386. doi: 10.3390/antiox9050386. PMID: 32380795; PMCID: PMC7278738.


Zhelyazkova-Savova MD, Yotov YT, Nikolova MN, Nazifova-Tasinova NF, Vankova DG, Atanasov AA, Galunska BT. Statins, vascular calcification, and vitamin K-dependent proteins: Is there a relation? Kaohsiung J Med Sci. 2021 Jul;37(7):624-631. doi: 10.1002/kjm2.12373. Epub 2021 Feb 26. PMID: 33634559.
Banun VJ, Rewatkar P, Chaudhary Z, Qu Z, Janjua T, Patil A, Wu Y, Ta HT, Bansal N, Miles JA, Ross BP, Kumeria T, Popat A. Protein Nanoparticles for Enhanced Oral Delivery of Coenzyme-Q10: in Vitro and in Silico Studies. ACS Biomater Sci Eng. 2023 Jun 12;9(6):2846-2856. doi: 10.1021/acsbiomaterials.0c01354. Epub 2021 Feb 22. PMID: 33617219.
Steph Sterner

Steph Sterner

Steph Sterner is a holistic practitioner and the author of No Guilt, No Games, No Drama and other self-help books. She writes about personal development, why we think and feel the way we do, and the nature of consciousness. You can find her on Medium (@Steph.Sterner) or at


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