According to recent news reports Coenzyme Q10 (Coq 10), is the third most popular supplement in the United States. With $700m being spent a year on this substance it might seem like Coq 10 is the next big thing in the world of health supplements.
It’s been touted for its anti-ageing benefits.
Doctors have even prescribed it in relation to a variety of different illnesses.
But is the research behind Coq 10 comprehensive enough? And more importantly, what are the benefits of Coenzyme Q10 for weight loss?
Read on, and we’ll give you the answers.
This article will give you the background of this fascinating antioxidant, and let you know what the benefits are, if any.
What is Coenzyme Q10?
Coenzyme Q10 (Coq 10) is also known as Ubiquinone. It’s a fat-soluble compound found throughout the human body (1, 2).
Although Coq10 functions similarly to a vitamin, it is not one. Mainly because it can be synthesized by humans whilst most vitamins can’t (2).
Wondering where Coq 10 is found?
It’s found all throughout the human body, thanks to its synthesis in tissues via the Coenzyme Q10 biosynthetic pathway (2).
One of the things that makes it so special is its ability to assist in the production of a substance called Adenosine Triphosphate, or ATP.
Remember ATP from biology class?
It’s utilized for energy (2) in all sorts of bodily reactions. Coq10 also protects cell membranes and blood when acting as an antioxidant (1, 2).
Is Coenzyme Q10 natural?
We obtain most of Coq 10 from food sources.
In fact it is believed that as much as 25 percent of the Coq10 found in our blood may come from dietary intake (2).
Wondering what the best food sources for this cool compound are?
Luckily it’s a delicious list: fish, poultry, meat and oils (such as corn, olive, canola, and soybean), as well as nuts and seeds for the vegetarians amongst us.
Studies have estimated that the average person has a Coq10 intake between 3 to 6 mg/day (2), which means that for most healthy people supplemental Coq10 is not necessary.
Individuals with certain conditions may benefit from supplementation in addition to medical treatment.
This includes conditions like mitochondrial disorders, and congestive heart failure (2).
Studies have estimated that the average person has a Coq10 intake between 3 to 6 mg/day.
Benefits of Coenzyme Q10
What makes Coq 10 so special?
Well, a deficiency has been observed in patients with a number of different illnesses, so it might seem obvious that boosting your levels will help treat these disorders (1).
It’s still unclear though whether low levels of Coq 10 are actually the cause of ill health, or whether they are simply a unrelated symptom caused by something else.
As you can imagine, CoQ10 has been studied heavily to assess its potential benefits.
- Improved quality of life and increased energy levels in people suffering from cardiovascular disorders
- Decreased oxidative stress and inflammation associated with coronary artery disease;
- Fewer side effects whilst using statin medications;
- Decreased blood pressure in some forms of hypertension;
- Reduced complications in people with both type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol;
- Anti-aging effects on keratin resulting in healthier hair
- Reduction (up to 50%) in migraine frequency; and
- Decreased risk of developing preeclampsia in pregnancy (1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7).
However, it is still unclear whether low levels of Coq 10 are the actual cause of ill health.
Coenzyme Q10 side effects and dosage information
Coq10 absorption and bioavailability can vary greatly depending on the type and quality of CoQ10 utilized. If taken with food, its intestinal absorption is approximately three times faster than without (1).
Coq10 supplements are considered to be safe for most healthy people. However, they can affect blood coagulation, people taking drugs such as warfarin or antiplatelet medications such as aspirin may need to exercise caution (1, 2).
Additionally, since Coq10 takes part in processes occurring in the liver, supplementation may not be appropriate for people with liver disorders, as a build up could potentially be harmful (1).
Typically, dosages up to 1200 mg/day for adults and 10 mg/kg/day for children are considered to be safe (1, 8).
If a higher dose than this is required for more than a few weeks then monitoring blood levels of Coq10 is usually recommended.
However, CoQ10 toxicity has not been found to be a common problem, even at the maximum dosages used in studies (1).
And when side effects did occur, they were typically mild and generic, including headache, nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, loss of appetite, and diarrhea.
Typically, dosages up to 1200 mg/day for adults and 10 mg/kg/day for children are considered to be safe.
Can Coenzyme Q10work for weight loss?
When it comes to weight loss, however, the results are a bit mixed. Animal studies tend to yield promising results. For example, one mouse study concluded that Coq10 supplementation led to significant obesity prevention related to the hypertrophy of fat cells (9).
As these mice were obese and also affected by diabetes, it seems plausible Coenzyme Q10 could work for humans with the same conditions.
Here’s the thing.
Some human studies have found a direct link between decreased Coq10 levels and increased body fat in older men (10).
Although this may sound like a useful discovery there is no evidence to demonstrate that supplementing with this vitamin like substance will lead to weight loss (11). In fact one of the few studies that measured the effectiveness for Coq 10 yielded some interesting conclusions, namely that other substances such as chromium and Vitamin B contributed to weight loss in the long term but Coq 10 didn’t appear to.
There are also two other important considerations to take in account here:
- Limited information on bioavailability means we are not certain it is even possible to boost Coq 10 levels by taking a supplement.
- Reduced Coq 10 levels are associated with aging so even if it did work for weight loss, the benefits are likely to be limited to a smallish subset of the population.
When it comes to weight loss, however, the results are a bit mixed.
Conclusion: Reviewing the science behind Coenzyme Q10
So, what’s the deal with CoQ10? Is it really a useful supplement, or should you spend your money on something else instead?
In short, it depends what you’re seeking from CoQ10 supplementation. Various studies have established a link between diminishing CoQ10 and deteriorating health. If you have a medical condition such as heart disease, CoQ10 might seem like an option worth trying.
However, it is worth noting that no dietary supplement is approved for use as a medicine or cure to your ailments, and it is never recommended to use them as alternative to more conventional treatments.
There are also some significant concerns surrounding the limited bioavailability of this ingredient, so it is best to do your research and determine the best way to optimize its absorption.
Furthermore, if you are looking to lose weight, this is by no means a proven benefit of Coq10. In fact it seems from the research done on Coenzyme Q10, that it was less effective than other substances used in the same studies.
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- J Garrido-Maraver et al. Coenzyme Q10 Therapy (2014), 187–197 (1)
- J Higdon et al. Coenzyme Q10 (2003), (2)
- E Alcocer-Gómez et al. Coenzyme Q(10): a novel therapeutic approach for Fibromyalgia? case series with 5 patients. (2011), (3)
- M Cordero et al. Oxidative Stress Correlates with Headache Symptoms in Fibromyalgia: Coenzyme Q10 Effect on Clinical Improvement. (2012), (4)
- M Cordero et al. Overview on coenzyme Q10 as adjunctive therapy in chronic heart failure. Rationale, design and end-points of “Q-symbio”–a multinational trial. (2003), (5)
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