Healthy woman jogging to maintain heart health

What Does CoQ10 Do for the Heart?

You may or may not have heard of coenzyme Q10, or just "CoQ10" for short. This nutrient is found in every cell in your body. You get it from the foods you eat—but your body also produces it on its own. CoQ10 is also one of the most popular supplements for heart health. The reason: CoQ10 is a very important part of your body's cellular energy production cycle…and if there's one organ that needs a lot of energy to do its job, it's your hard-working heart.

What is CoQ10?

CoQ10 is a fat-soluble molecule. It's also sometimes called either ubiquinone or ubiquinol, depending on whether you're talking about the oxidized version of the nutrient or not (more on that later).

The primary value of CoQ10 lies with its relationship with cellular energy. Your cells need CoQ10 to produce cellular energy. CoQ10 helps your cells move electrons during the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). If you were paying attention in high school science class, that's the compound that your cells use to power their daily functions, which include everything from your kidney's detoxification efforts to breathing to your heart beating.

Is CoQ10 good for your heart?

Man biking to improve his heart health

The short answer is "yes." Your heart has massively high energy requirements. Your heart beats all the time, after all, and when it contracts (called cardiac contraction) the activation of the proteins that govern this action requires energy. Since CoQ10 is directly involved in the transport of electrons during mitochondrial energy production, it makes sense that the cells in your heart need all the CoQ10 they can get.

Then there's the fact that that CoQ10 functions as an antioxidant. Because all that cellular energy production creates oxidizing free radicals, CoQ10's ability to quench these oxidative stress-causing compounds is not to be overlooked.

This is because oxidizing free radicals can put stress on everything from cell membranes in your heart and cardiovascular system (think your vascular endothelium, or the delicate inner lining of your veins), the essential proteins in your blood—and even your DNA. Having adequate CoQ10 levels can halt these processes in their tracks, however.

CoQ10 for heart health shows promise when it comes to inhibiting inflammatory factors to support a healthy heart. Lastly, CoQ10 has been associated with nitric oxide support. If you've ever looked into how blood pressure works, you know nitric oxide is important for vasodilation…so together, CoQ10 and nitric oxide take some of the "pressure" off of your cardiovascular system!

Should I take CoQ10?

Since CoQ10 benefits your body in so many ways, it's a great option for most people's supplement routines. The support of cellular energy levels makes CoQ10 a good choice even if you're not worried about heart health—because let's admit it: we all could use healthy energy. Your brain, liver and kidneys can benefit from CoQ10, since they work hard to keep you healthy as well—which means they need energy and antioxidant protection.

And the good news is that CoQ10 is widely tolerated—meaning there's very, very few people who shouldn't take CoQ10. As always, consult with your doctor if you think taking CoQ10 as a supplement might be a problem.

Does CoQ10 supplementation work?

There are plenty of studies that indicate pretty strong evidence for CoQ10's value as a nutritional supplement. Not only does CoQ10 help you maintain heart health, but it's also got pretty solid benefits for endothelial function and overall support for your entire vascular system. One study even shows CoQ10 can help with exercise-related fatigue and performance.

How much CoQ10 should I take?

Studies have found heart health benefits of taking CoQ10 from 50 mg a day all the way up to 300 mg. The average person can get all the benefits they need from about 100 mg a day of supplementation. If you're concerned with maintaining your heart health however, or you've been experiencing occasional general fatigue, a higher dose—like maybe 200 mg of ubiquinol a day—might be in order.

It is a heart health myth that the higher the dosage supplement, the better, however. The human digestive system can only absorb so much CoQ10 at a time. One study found that 100 mg twice a day at separate times produced a better increase in serum levels than a single 200 mg dosing. But if you're likely to forget to take that second dose, you can take 200 mg at once. No matter how much you take, it'll take between five and eight hours for that supplemental CoQ10 to reach peak levels in your bloodstream.

When to take CoQ10—morning or night?

There's no prescribed "best time" to take CoQ10. But because it is a lipid soluble nutrient, it is always best to take your CoQ10 softgels with food. It is important to note that some people report having trouble sleeping if they take CoQ10 too late in the evening—which makes sense given CoQ10's propensity for stimulating cellular energy production. So if you are going to take CoQ10, why not take it with breakfast or lunch?

Are there different types of CoQ10?

In your body, CoQ10 exists as both ubiquinol and ubiquinone. Your cells continually convert one to the other as a part of CoQ10's normal life cycle. But that doesn't answer the million-dollar question: which form is best for getting the CoQ10 into your body?

As supplements, there are two primary types of CoQ10. The most traditional and common form is called ubiquinone. Ubiquinone is the oxidized version of CoQ10. Ubiquinol is a form that is better at quenching free radicals because ubiquinol is the reduced form of CoQ10. That means it has more electrons, which makes it better at quenching free radicals which want to oxidize (i.e. take electrons from) other compounds.

Because of this, ubiquinol is seen as a better CoQ10 supplement. That being said, ubiquinone is usually more affordable and commonly found, and it's a still a good option if you aren't able to get ubiquinol.

Ubiquinol CoQ10 vs ubiquinone

CoQ10 was first purified from a bovine heart. Fortunately, there are much easier ways to supplement with CoQ10 these days! It's more common to find the ubiquinone form of CoQ10, but we recommend choosing the ubiquinol form. In one comparison study, ubiquinol CoQ10 absorption was nearly twice that of its ubiquinone counterpart.

Another thing worth mentioning: it appears that the older you are, the better off you'll be taking ubiquinol CoQ10—several studies report significantly better bioavailability of ubiquinol vs. ubiquinone in older people.

CoQ10 and PQQ (pyrroloquinoline quinone)

Sometimes you'll see CoQ10 paired with a nutrient called pyrroloquinoline quinone, or just "PQQ" for short. This is because the two nutrients work well together: PQQ encourages your body to grew new mitochondria—which is good because as you grow older, your number of functioning mitochondria decreases. CoQ10 is utilized by your mitochondria to create cellular energy—which makes these two a match made in heaven.

CoQ10 levels in your blood

CoQ10 circulation is determined by measuring serum CoQ10 levels with a lab test. But in order to get CoQ10 into your blood, you have to digest it first—and that's where the greatest variation in both personal biology and dosing comes into play. In many studies, CoQ10 absorption, uptake, and utilization varies by the people who take it.

Other heart-healthy supplements

Woman taking CoQ10 supplement for heart health

If you're taking CoQ10 for heart health, consider adding these supplements to your routine as well:

  • Selenium

    : A trace mineral found in soil and foods such as Brazil nuts, fish and eggs. Selenium has powerful antioxidant and longevity benefits in its own right, but interestingly enough, studies show it might be really good for your heart when you pair selenium with CoQ10.
  • Magnesium

    : Another mineral that's good for your heart: magnesium—and although it doesn't directly relate to CoQ10, magnesium helps relax the smooth muscles within blood vessels as well as promotes the synthesis of nitric oxide.
  • Potassium

    : It gets most of its attention from the regular exercise crowd because it helps with muscle recovery. But like magnesium, potassium helps maintain already-healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • Fish Oil

    : This is a cardiovascular superstar because it helps keep your already healthy triglycerides within the normal range. Fish oil is also good at inhibiting inflammation to support heart health—same reason it's good for your joints as well.

Start taking CoQ10 today

Since the 1950s, health science and research has yielded a huge swath of evidence that CoQ10 is good for your heart—and the rest of you. Whether you choose a state-of-the-art ubiquinol supplement or go with a cost-saving ubiquinone formulation, odds are you'll benefit from taking CoQ10 every day.

References

By: John Gawley, Health & Wellness Writer

John Gawley graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in English before beginning his career as a technical writer, copy writer and content manager. John has extensive experience in the health and wellness field, and he is the Senior Copywriter at Life Extension.

Scientifically Reviewed By: Michael A. Smith, MD