Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a vitamin-like compound that your body needs to keep cells healthy and energized. It is used by every cell of practically every living thing on the planet, including plants, animals, bacteria and of course, people. It’s such a widespread and essential component of life that it’s also referred to as ubiquinone or ubiquinol, which is a combination of the words ubiquitous (meaning it is everywhere) and quinone or quinol (referring to its structure).
But if you take statins, a type of prescription medication that supports cholesterol health, your statins may interfere with your body’s level of CoQ10.1
Why Your Cells Need CoQ10
Think of coenzyme Q10 as a spark of energy for your cells. It jump-starts cellular respiration and adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production, which is the process of converting the nutrients you consume into fuel your cells can use for vital biological processes.2 CoQ10 also plays a role as an antioxidant, helping to neutralize free radicals and combat oxidative damage to your cells, as well as to lipids, proteins and DNA.
Our bodies make some CoQ10 naturally, but increasing your CoQ10 intake can help support optimal health and provide many benefits. Plus, the amount our bodies produce declines with age, and certain medications or treatments, including statins, may affect our CoQ10 levels, which may result in suboptimal health.3,4
About CoQ10 and Statins
If you take a prescription medicine to help support cholesterol health, the medicine might be a statin. Statins help lower bad cholesterol in your blood by blocking the production of an enzyme known as HMG-CoA, which is used by the liver for cholesterol production.5 Experts claim that blocking this enzyme may help reduce the liver’s production of cholesterol.5 Unfortunately, statins may also decrease the amount of coenzyme Q10 your body produces.1
Multiple studies have shown a decrease in CoQ10 levels after taking statins, which scientists have noted in both serum and muscle tissues.2 Researchers have attributed the reduced CoQ10 levels to the ability of statins to inhibit a key step in the synthesis of CoQ10, so some experts have recommended that statin users take CoQ10 supplements to avoid becoming deficient.2 But check with your doctor first before taking CoQ10 if you are taking statins or any other medications, just to be sure it’s the best option for you.
More on Statins and CoQ10
Low levels of CoQ10 appear to have a correlation with statin side effects. Some people who take statins experience side effects like muscle aches, nausea, digestive issues, liver and kidney concerns, along with decreased CoQ10 levels.6 And as CoQ10 levels become lower, there have been reports of an increase in statin side effects.6 CoQ10 supplements may help statin users maintain adequate levels of this vital enzyme in their bodies, possibly reducing the side effects of statins.7
Signs of a CoQ10 Deficiency
Though statins may reduce your CoQ10 levels, most healthy people make enough CoQ10 to provide for the essential needs of the body, and a true deficiency is rare.4
If you do have a CoQ10 deficiency or low levels of CoQ10, however, the signs may be difficult to spot as they may be easily mistaken for something else. Muscle weakness, fatigue and difficulty thinking have been linked to CoQ10 deficiencies.4,8,9 But in rare cases, extreme deficiencies may cause cardiovascular and brain health concerns, plus other related issues.10,11,12
How to Boost CoQ10 Levels
Given the health benefits of CoQ10 for heart and muscle health, energy production and more, most people want to know how to raise their CoQ10 level.13 As with many nutrients, you have two primary choices for helping your body maintain its CoQ10 level: foods rich in CoQ10 and CoQ10 supplements. But there aren’t a lot of foods that are truly high in CoQ10.
Cold water fish, soybeans, broccoli, pork, chicken and beef all provide some CoQ10, but even the richer food sources, which typically include organ meats, don’t provide high levels. For example, chicken liver only provides 11.6 mg in a 3.5 ounce serving. Soybeans are a higher vegetable source of CoQ10, providing 1.87 mg of CoQ10 per 3.5 ounce serving.
You can get a consistently higher intake of CoQ10 from supplements than from food sources. A typical daily intake of CoQ10 from supplements is between 100 to 200 mg, but be sure to follow the directions on the product.14
Are You Taking Statins? Do You Suspect You May Have Low Levels of CoQ10?
CoQ10 is an essential enzyme for helping keep our bodies healthy. If you are taking statins, you might want to talk to your doctor about the potential benefits of adding a CoQ10 supplement to your daily health and wellness routine.
Learn more about the benefits of CoQ10 for optimal health in the article CoQ10 Benefits: What You Need to Know and check out Swanson Health CoQ10 supplements. You may also want to read CoQ10 Food Sources.
1 Coenzyme Q10 and Statin-Induced Mitochondrial Dysfunction. US National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3096178/ (Accessed 1/24/2018)
2 Coenzyme Q10 Therapy. US National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4112525/ (Accessed 1/24/2018)
3 Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10): In Depth. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/supplements/coq10 (Accessed 1/24/2018)
4 Primary and secondary CoQ10 deficiencies in humans. US National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3258494 (Accessed 1/24/2018)
5 Statins: Uses, Side Effects, and More. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/high-cholesterol/statins-uses-side-effects (Accessed 1/24/2018)
6 CoQ10 and Statins: What You Need to Know. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/coq10-and-statins (Accessed 1/24/2018)
7 Effect of coenzyme q10 on myopathic symptoms in patients treated with statins. PubMed. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17493470 (Accessed 1/24/2018)
8 Coenzyme Q10 action on mental fatigue and energy, in acute physical stress. http://pm3.ro/pdf/57/oct%202014/RO/07%20-%20jurcau%20189-192.pdf (Accessed 1/24/2018)
9 CoQ10: An Answer to Fibromyalgia. Holtorf Medical Group. https://www.holtorfmed.com/coq10-an-answer-to-fibromyalgia/ (Accessed 1/24/2018)
10 Coenzyme Q10: The essential nutrient. US National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3178961/ (Accessed 1/24/2018)
11 The Pill Book Guide to Natural Medicines: Vitamins Minerals, Supplements, Herbs and Other Natural Products. https://books.google.com/books?id=GrjVCQAAQBAJ&pg (Accessed 1/24/2018)
12 Coenzyme Q10 in neuromuscular and neurodegenerative disorders. PubMed. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20017723 (Accessed 1/24/2018)
13 Coenzyme Q10. The Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-coenzyme-q10/art-20362602 (Accessed 1/5/2018)
14 Coenzyme Q10: CoQ10. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/diet/supplement-guide-coenzymeq10-coq10#1 (Accessed 1/24/2018)
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.