Diabetes Self-Management Blog

CoQ10, which stands for coenzyme Q10 (also called ubiquinone) might be something that you’ve never heard of. Then again, if you take a statin medicine for your cholesterol, you might just be taking this as a supplement. This week, we’ll take a closer look at this supplement that sometimes is hidden in the shadows but that has the potential for greatness.

What Is It, Anyway?
CoQ10 is a substance that is made in our bodies and is essential for good health. More specifically, you’ll find CoQ10 in a part of cell called the mitochondria, which, as I learned in biology, is the powerhouse of the cell. Without getting too heavy into biochemistry, CoQ10 is needed to make something called ATP which cells use for energy and which helps fuel a number of functions in the body, such as muscle contraction. For you history buffs, CoQ10 was “discovered” in beef heart muscle back in 1957 in Wisconsin. That same year, a professor in England isolated the same substance from rat liver.

CoQ10 is somewhat like a vitamin because it’s essential for health and is found in some foods. It’s actually made from an amino acid called tyrosine and requires several vitamins and minerals for its synthesis. In the 1970’s, it was found that a deficiency of CoQ10 was linked to heart disease. Production of CoQ10 in large quantities began that same decade to run clinical trials, many of which were conducted in the 1980’s.

What Does It Do?
History aside, CoQ10 plays an important role both in energy generation in the body and as an antioxidant. If you recall, antioxidants help to mop up free radicals, harmful substances that can damage cell membranes and cell DNA. It’s thought that damage from free radicals can lead to a whole host of various problems, including heart disease, cancer, and Type 2 diabetes. Here are some ways in which CoQ10 helps promote health and fight disease:

  • Heart disease: CoQ10 may help decrease heart disease by boosting energy production within heart muscle cells, preventing blood clots from forming, and acting as an antioxidant. Research has shown that people who had a heart attack and received CoQ10 supplements after the fact were less likely to have another heart attack and less likely to die from heart disease than those who didn’t receive CoQ10.
  • Congestive heart failure: With congestive heart failure (CHF), the heart is weakened and can’t pump blood efficiently. Blood can accumulate in various parts of the body, such as the feet and legs. CoQ10 may help reduce fluid buildup and improve breathing, although more research is needed to show whether CoQ10 is really beneficial for CHF.
  • High cholesterol: CoQ10 levels tend to be lower in people with high cholesterol. And many people who take statins for cholesterol-lowering take CoQ10 as a supplement, as there’s some indication that statins deplete CoQ10 levels in the body. Some studies show that CoQ10 can reduce muscle pain associated with statins.
  • High blood pressure: CoQ10 may help lower both systolic and diastolic (the top and bottom numbers) blood pressure, although it’s not yet touted as a “treatment” for this condition. Beta-blockers may also deplete CoQ10 levels.
  • Diabetes: CoQ10 may help with blood glucose control. There’s some thought that it may increase the risk for hypoglycemia (low blood glucose).

CoQ10 is thought to possibly help many other conditions, too, such as breast cancer, HIV, gum disease, and macular degeneration.

Where Is It Found?
CoQ10 is found in fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines), vegetable oils, meat, and poultry. It’s also available as a supplement in soft gel, tablet, or spray form. Recommended doses vary depending on the condition, and range from 100 milligrams (mg) to up to 3,000 mg per day, given in divided doses. At this time, it’s not recommended for use in children. Side effects are minimal (nausea, diarrhea), but CoQ10 may interact with blood thinners and thyroid medication. As always, check with your health-care provider before taking this or any supplement.

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Comments
  1. Anyone with diabetes needs to read the book called No More Heart Disease, by the Noble Prize winner Louis J. Ignarro. He has some amazing information that may make a big difference in how we deal with heart disease.
    Steve
    Diabetic Help

    Posted by Steve |
  2. Dear amy.

    I saw my wife poping these dark supplements although she said she would stop because they were too expensive. May be we should continue.

    We are planning to start consumming much more fish as 2 kids who hate even the smell are leaving. Only his Lordship will remain, he used to eat pickled herring off a fork straight from the jar when he was a pup but now hides from any fish even salmon fried on butter.

    I feel guilty about farmed salmon and the natural guys are going extinct also. We have a community trout lake that is still frozen but will melt soon.

    Also I find that my favorite pickled or canned fish are loaded in sodium and sometimes sugar. Why cannot the govt pass a law that everyone adds his own salt. I do on occaision use KCl in a product called no salt. Just to redress the balance in favour of potassium a bit.

    Posted by CalgaryDiabetic |
  3. Hi Amy,

    great article, i have seen many people get positive results using coq10.

    Chris Conway

    Posted by chris conway |
  4. Thanks Chris. I know a number of people (including health-care professionals) who take CoQ10, as well. Hopefully there is something to it!

    Posted by acampbell |
  5. Co Q 10 is wonderful!
    My Doctor had prescribed a Statin for my high Cholesterol. After one month on it I was exhausted and every muscle in my body ached so badly I went off the medication.
    He suggested I take Co Q 10 (100 mg/day). I have been on my Statin now for two months along with the Co Q 10 and I have more energy than ever! My muscles do not hurt. I take 200 mg/day and I have never felt so good!

    Posted by Leslie |
  6. I am a diabetic. It was so surprising and frightening to me because noone in my family (father/mother)had diabetes! I’m a very petite woman who has a veryhgih metabolism and cannot gain weight! I’ve lost a few pounds and It’s frustrating trying to figure out what to eat! I’m thinking of taking CoQ10. Will it entefere with Metformin or Caduet for cholesterol and high blood pressure? Need advise.

    Posted by Blanca Perez |
  7. Hi Blanca,

    It’s possible that CoQ10 can enhance the effects of your metformin (for your diabetes) and Caduet (for your blood pressure and cholesterol). If you do decide to take it, you should let your physician know and check both your blood glucose and blood pressure regularly. Also, I’d suggest asking your physician for a referral to a dietitian who can help you learn about healthy eating and meal planning with diabetes.

    Posted by acampbell |
  8. Hi,
    I’ve done considerable personal research using my self here. I was 10mg Atovastin daily and a low maintenance 30mg Co-Q10. Side effects increased so stopped the statin and upped the Co-Q10 to 130mg.
    Within a few days My insulin in take not only strengthened but responded faster.
    I’ve run through this twice now and the same both times. It explains problems in the past also.

    Because of this find I’ve ploughed threw the web on the subject and to me Co-Q10 is looking more and more relevant, especially to diet dependent Diabetes in the older ages.

    There is so much potential in further research for the use of Co-Q10 with Diabetes and other health concerns, That I sincerely hope those of better position will make the most of this importunity.

    Posted by P. Nolan |
  9. This is wonderful! The diabetic patient is probably the hardest to create a diet for because they will always need to have a balanced nutrition. If anything is taken too much or too low, it can have a big impact on the patient’s health.

    Posted by Andi |
  10. Hi,
    I have been an insulin dependent Type I Diabetic for 42 years. I have maintained excellent control and have absolutely no complications. My A1C’s are always around 6.2, but the last three were 5.8, 5.9, and today’s was 5.5.
    My concern is that my doctor put me on 10 mg of Lipitor and with the help of krill oil, I have a total Cholesterol of 143, Triglycerides of 39, HDL of 62, LDL of 75 and a Coronary Risk Ratio of 2.3.
    Is a total cholerterol of 143 TOO LOW? Are any of these numbers related to my cholerterol too low?

    Posted by Robert Antonelli |
  11. Hi Robert,

    The issue of whether one’s cholesterol can be too low is somewhat controversial. Some research indicates that too low of a cholesterol level may put a person at risk for depression, anxiety, and cancer, but this hasn’t been well established. Also, low triglycerides, say, below 50, can sometimes be indicative of certain illnesses, especially those that could cause malabsorption, like Crohn disease or celiac disease. But it can also be reflective of a diet that’s low in carbohydrate, as well. Your body needs a certain amount of both cholesterol and triglycerides (fat) to maintain overall health. I’d suggest you talk with your physician about your lipid profile, and discuss your Lipitor dose. Perhaps it can be decreased. Also, make sure he knows that you’re taking krill oil.

    Posted by acampbell |
  12. Hi Amy,
    I am a type 2 Diabetic and have recently heard about CoQ10. I am on metformin and insulin jabs. Am also on Simvastatin and Hyzaar Forte. 2 of my aunts and an uncle died of liver cirrhosis. Just read somewhere that CoQ10 is not for people with bad liver genes. Is this true?
    Thanks.

    Posted by Susan |
  13. Hi Susan,

    I’m not aware that people with a family history of liver disease should avoid CoQ10. However, there’s a small chance that CoQ10 could increase liver enzymes. Elevated liver enzymes can sometimes indicate inflammation or liver damage. To be on the safe side, talk with your physician before taking CoQ10.

    Posted by acampbell |
  14. Thank you so much for the reply.
    It was quite frustrating speaking to him. Just told me not to waste money on supplements.
    Didn’t give me a straight answer. Sigh…
    Asked a pharmacist after that but she said it should
    be ok. :)

    Posted by Susan |
  15. Hi Susan,

    That can happen, unfortunately. If you decide to take CoQ10, let your doctor know, anyway, so that he can periodically check your liver enzyme levels.

    Posted by acampbell |
  16. I am a 54yr old female coming through menopause. I am taking Novolog 70/30, metformin, Januvia, htcz&lisinipril. I would like to know how taurine will help my efforts in controlling blood sugar levels. When I entered the perimenopause/menopause journey, I became out of balanced. I am a work in progress and am just getting warmed up this time of life. I’ve used supplements through out my life and currently using taurine, chromium, cinnamon, coq10, red yeast rice, flax DHA omega3 and magnesium. I am in the Atlanta area so, Vitamin D is ok this time of year. I occassionally use Happy Camper a herbal feel good combo for anxiety&mild depression. I am a caregiver to many. I realize I MUST CARE FOR ME and like said above am a work in progress. I am currently trying to schedule myself to include water aerobics aa a regular form of exercise until I can lose 50lbs, have been called a big bone girl w/a shape.Well! No bone is as large is this large (5′8″ and 278lbs) I am fat/morbid obese whatever you want to call it. What I do know is FAT hurts. Does it look like I’m in the right direction?

    Posted by Brenda |
  17. Hi Brenda,

    I’m glad to hear that you recognize the importance of taking care of yourself, especially being a caregiver. To answer your question about taurine: Taurine is an amino acid that some believes enhance athletic performance (which is why it’s often found in energy drinks). In rats, it’s been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, but not much research has been done in humans, so it’s hard to say if it will help you. Supplements, in general, can be helpful, but, as their name implies, they are meant to supplement (not take the place of) a healthy eating plan and regular physical activity. Doing water aerobics is an excellent choice for physical activity. Try and do some form of physical activity every day, and include resistance training (like hand weights or resistance bands), too. Consider working with a dietitian and/or joining a weight loss program (Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, etc.) because I think you need continued support and as you know, being a caregiver, it’s hard to do it on your own. You’ve taken some great first steps. When you’re ready, see if you can go further.

    Posted by acampbell |
  18. I am 40 years old, I diagnosed recently with A1c 9.3 and Glucose level of 188, I have a long history of high level of triglycerides from 10 years ago which in the last test result was 844, which never had high cholesterol level, but this time was 350. The last blood test result I had was 6 months ago and everything other than triglycerides which was 550 was normal.
    Now, I took Metformin, 500 twice a day+ Lopid 600 twice a day +Niacin and lisnopril 10mg once a day.
    Since this is new to me, I have difficulties to control my diet since I was so connected to fast foods. Since I am in complete diet, including vegtable and white meat only, my blood pressure goes low (yesterday was around 9), I want to know can I use coq10 as supplemental for this diet? because I was using coq10 on and off before and I know it gives me energy, so it help me to handle this diet. please advise.
    Also, I get very bad dry coughing since I started Metformin. Did you hear such a symptom for using Metformin?

    Posted by bob |
  19. Hi bob,

    I’d advise you to check with your doctor before taking CoQ10. This supplement may further lower your blood pressure, and you already take a blood pressure-lowering medication (lisinopril). Also, coughing is a possible side effect of metformin, as well as lisinopril, so again, please talk to your doctor about this.

    Posted by acampbell |
  20. I am 67 years old, and now taking paxil, sythroid
    daily, I have a arthritis and just wonder if it is
    ok to take C0 Q-10. Please help.

    Posted by Ann-marie Bouchard |
  21. Hi Ann-marie,

    To my knowledge, CoQ10 does not interact with Paxil or Synthroid. However, I’d recommend that you ask your pharmacist to be on the safe side.

    Posted by acampbell |
  22. Im a type 2 diabetic (diet control) with hypertension taking Diltiazem/lisnopril with 80mg aspirin. Can I take COQ10 supplements?

    Posted by Michele |
  23. Hi Michele,

    CoQ10 may lower blood pressure, so you should talk to your doctor before starting CoQ10 as it may affect the dose of your blood pressure medicine.

    Posted by acampbell |
  24. I got off my metformin taking 500 x2 a day
    200mg coq10
    600 chromium 200 with each meal
    L-carnitine 2000

    And a better diet, no meat. Just fish, little bread
    Fruits, veggies…

    Hope this helps.
    I was in the 130-150 after eating.
    Now I’m 109- 111 after eating.
    Between meals it is 100-104!

    Posted by Lisa |
  25. Lisa
    I am very interested to know what your meter reading numbers were? when you changed over to coQ and chromium.
    What was the chromium for?
    not being to personal but what was your weight when you switched.

    I would love to go natural instead of all these meds.

    Martin

    Posted by Martin |
  26. My doctor put me on Lipitor for high cholesterol. She suggested I start taking coq10. I have researched this supplement and have some concerns.
    I also take Metoprolol Tartrate (sp?) for high blood pressure. I read that coq10 interacts with this blood pressure drug. Also, I bought some coq10 and took it for 1 day (100 mg). My heart raced! I researched Lipitor and found that was not the problem. Then i looked up coq10 and found that increased heart palpitations is a side-effect. That seems like a strange side-effect for a supplement that is an enzyme.
    I also have diabetes and am interested in lowering my numbers by the next time i get my blood tested. I have heard coq10 can do this. but the bottom line is i am worried about taking it
    any suggestions?
    Joy

    Posted by Joy |
  27. Hi Joy,

    CoQ10 is not without side effects, and certainly, if you are having palpitations and think they are because of this supplement, it’s a good idea to stop taking it. Just like medicines, any kind of supplement can cause side effects. CoQ10 can lower both blood pressure and blood glucose, but given the palpitations that you’ve had, I wouldn’t suggest relying on CoQ10 to help you do so. Also, let your doctor know that you’ve had palpitations — it’s a good idea that he looks into this further at your next medical visit.

    Posted by acampbell |
  28. I was told that the medical community is not quite sure what causes type 2 diabetes. I believe only type 1 is genetic but some cases they theorize it could be a virus that attacks the pancreas. Stress can also be a factor. Adrenaline spilling into the blood stream can overload your organs.

    Posted by Kelly |
  29. Im 35 yrs old diagnosed with type 2 last year, i had high Blood pressure since i was 20,, tohugh its not that high now. I’m on diet control and my diabeties remain control. i dont do much of the physical activity due to time (work nature). Can i take CoQ10 with vitamin e? which one is good…though i had gout as well in past and my experience with multivitamin is not very good as it always increased my blood pressure.

    Any advice/suggestion highly appreciated.

    Posted by Naveed |
  30. I have high blood pressure controlled with medication, (Losartan & Atenolol), diet, exercise and weight loss. I also have Type 2 diabetes being controlled with Glipizide, and high cholesterol being controlled with Simvastatin (1/2 tablet twice daily).

    Under heavy manual labor my muscles and joints ache severely. Aleve works just as advertised but I do not wish to be dependent on it either. And, I suspect that a lot of the muscle aches is more related to the Simvastatin, even though my doctor has reduced the daily dose to one-half tablet.

    I just started to incorporate CoQ10 into my daily meds and supplements. So far, I do not show any signs of side effects. I will be 69 years old shortly. At what point can I reasonably expect to reduce the daily 200 mg of CoQ10 and what should I look for in terms of numbers as they relate to blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels?

    Thank you - Ron

    Posted by Ron Fischer |
  31. Hi Naveed,

    You can take CoQ10 with vitamin E, but I suggest that you be cautious about taking vitamin E for too long. Some studies suggest that it may be unsafe if taken for a long time. Apparently, the risk of death from all causes may be slightly increased in people who take vitamin E. I’d suggest not taking more than 1000 mg (1500 IU) per day. Also, you should let your doctor know if you start taking these two supplements.

    Posted by acampbell |
  32. I am 69 years old with Type 2 diabetes. I also suffer from intermittent Right AFIB. I always covert on my own. I take 1000mg X 2 Metformin, 100mg Losartan, 40mg X 2 Sotalol,
    Lovastatin 2@40 mg, 7.5mg Warfin. I just started taking C0Q10 @ 100mg with Vitamin E @150iu. Is my taking this supplement a good idea.

    Posted by Paul George |
  33. Hi Paul,

    You should talk with your doctor and/or your pharmacist. CoQ10 may interact with blood thinners, such as warfarin (brand name Coumadin and others). Also, taking vitamin E with warfarin may possibly increase the risk of bleeding. Find out if taking this combination of two supplements is safe for you.

    Posted by acampbell |
  34. Hi!

    My father has a type 2 diabetes and he is taking 1 metformin in the morning with also medicine on his high blood pressure after taking metformin. he is on insulin injection also every after dinner 8pm once a day only.. he has been on this regime for 1 year already and still continuing…

    I care for my father. as a daughter I have been researching supplements for diabetes and also I am glad I found this site.. Thank you!

    My question is: Is it ok that my father will take CoQ10 or Coenzyme Q-10 100mg a day with vitamin C? Will it be okay with the background info I gave you on his medications?

    I hope you will give me a clear understanding regarding this matter. Thanks again!

    Posted by Muffet |

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