There are so many health-related supplements on the market these days (one figure puts the number at 55,000), with so many claims about their efficacy, that it’s hard to keep up.
CoQ10 is an antioxidant naturally produced by the body, but this production declines with age. Because it is found in every cell in the body as a means to produce energy, it is thought that supplementing the body’s store of CoQ10 will help increase energy and physical performance. In its role as an antioxidant, it fights the proliferation of free radicals in the body, those particles known to damage and even kill cells. Free radicals are chiefly responsible for the aging of the body as well as the introduction of diseases, mainly cancer. Thus, it is believed that increasing the body’s supply of CoQ10 will lead to better health and fewer diseases.
Here are some of numerous health claims attributed to CoQ10, and the strength of these claims based on various clinical studies.
- Improved survival after heart attack, when taken within three days of a heart attack
- Heart failure, when taken in concert with conventional medications
- Improved post-surgical recovery in cardiac patients
- Reducing high blood pressure
- Lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol
- Preventing heart damage with some chemotherapy drugs
- Better control of blood sugar in diabetics
- Treatment for Parkinson’s disease
- Increased sperm motility
- Prevention of migraine headaches
- Improved immune function in HIV/AIDS patients
- Treatment of gum (periodontal) disease
- Improved physical performance
- Treatment of cancer
- Treatment of chest pain (angina)
- Treatment of neurodegenerative diseases
- Treatment of statin-related muscle weakness
- Prevention of age-related DNA damage
- Life extension
Many of the claims attributed to the use of CoQ10 supplements are based on observation: Either low blood levels were reported in those suffering from various conditions, or those taking the supplement seemed to improve from their condition. But there have been relatively few large studies, and almost no long-term clinical studies done on the efficacy of CoQ10 for treating or curing various conditions or diseases.
There are, however, some reported mild side effects associated with CoQ10 supplementation. These include: insomnia, increased liver enzymes, rashes, nausea, upper abdominal pain, dizziness, sensitivity to light, irritability, headaches, heartburn, and fatigue. It may also interfere with such blood thinners as warfarin, rendering them less effective. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) cautions that CoQ10 should not be used by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. NIH also reports that the supplement is generally well tolerated.
As always, remember that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t approve supplements before they are offered for sale. And because CoQ10 may interfere with certain medications you may be taking or medical conditions you may have, we recommend you check with us before taking this or any other over-the-counter supplement.