Can Your Patients Benefit From Taking CoQ-10?

June 27, 2018   /


Anne Danahy, MS, RDN, LDN



CoQ10, short for Coenzyme Q10, also known as ubiquinone, is a fat-soluble compound found in every human cell, and in highest concentrations in the heart, liver, and kidneys. Frequently taken as an “anti-aging supplement,” it is responsible for (Adenosine triphosphate) ATP or energy production in the mitochondria, and it also functions as a cellular antioxidant. CoQ10 is both synthesized within the body, and consumed in the diet, so deficiency is rare. However, as people age, and with certain health conditions and medications, levels of CoQ10 within the body decline, and supplementation may be beneficial in some cases.


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Do we get enough?

CoQ10 is not considered a vitamin, and there is no recommended amount that should be consumed each day. Animal foods, including beef, poultry, and fish, especially herring and trout, provide the greatest amounts of dietary CoQ10, but some plant foods, such as peanuts, pistachios, sesame seeds, broccoli, soybean, and canola oil are good sources too.

It is estimated that the average daily dietary intake of CoQ10 is between 3 and 5 mg/day, and this accounts for about 25% of plasma CoQ10. The rest is made endogenously through a multi-step process that requires the amino acids tyrosine or phenylalanine, as well as vitamins B6, B12, folate, and C. The enzyme hydroxymethylglutaryl (HMG)-CoA reductase is also critical for CoQ10 synthesis. A reduced activity of this enzyme (which occurs with the use of cholesterol-lowering statin medications), or deficiency in the necessary nutrients, can impact the amount of CoQ10 available in the body.

Primary CoQ10 deficiency occurs when a genetic defect prevents CoQ10 biosynthesis, resulting in compromised muscle and neuronal function. Supplementing with CoQ10 can improve function in these patients. In addition, several disease conditions, including diabetes, cancer, and congestive heart failure, can result in lower (but not deficient) tissue and plasma levels of CoQ10. Increasing dietary sources of CoQ10 is unlikely to raise levels, but supplementation effectively increases plasma levels in the body, and can possibly help with disease prevention and management.

The dosages used in most research studies range from 100 to 300 mg/day with higher doses tested in neurological conditions.


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