Antioxidants are nutrients that help fight free-radicals. These free-radicals – if found in excessive amounts – may eventually lead to conditions such as cardiac disorders, diabetes as well as other autoimmune conditions like cancers. The human body has its own capabilities to make antioxidants to fight an excessive build-up of free-radicals. You can also source these antioxidants from foods such as vegetables, fruits and animal-based foods. The quantum of antioxidants present in animal-based foods such as fish and meat is not as pronounced as in plant-based foods. CoQ10 is an antioxidant naturally present in your body; you can also source CoQ10 from the foods you eat. This nutrient plays a crucial role in protecting your cells from likely repair.

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a substance which is soluble in fats, and is present in the mitochondria of cells. Almost all cells of your body may contain CoQ10. This substance is important for cells to respire and to make needful energy. In essence, it safeguards your cells from stresses triggered by oxidation as well as microbes such as virus and bacteria. So, the key functions of CoQ10 are to enable cells to generate ATP – i.e., adenosine triphosphate – in simple terms, to make energy, and to work as a powerful antioxidant against oxidation stress.

Cell health and wellbeing of the DNA

CoQ10 also plays an important role in repair and regeneration of your DNA. In healthy conditions, free-radicals play a critical role in streamlining intercellular communications. This cell-to-cell communication is essential to keep away microbial attacks. But, when there is an excessive build-up of free-radicals, your DNA is likely to come under siege. Such a build-up may eventually lead to damages or injuries to tissues, mutated DNA as well as several other autoimmune conditions, such as internal swelling. Presence of CoQ10 helps minimize the effects of free-radicals. In short, production of CoQ10 enables your body to maintain cellular wellbeing and DNA health.

Where can you source CoQ10?

Of all organs, your body parts needing high levels of energy have the largest concentration of CoQ10 in them. These are organs such as lungs, liver, kidneys and heart. Your body may witness a deficiency of this substance when you age and grow old. A deficient condition may also arise when you have genetic disorders that disturb the synthesis of CoQ10. A few other factors may also trigger a deficiency; these include intake of statins, cellular disorders – especially, those affecting the mitochondria, poor availability of vitamin B6, etc.

CoQ10 can be sourced from supplements as well as from such as foods like muscle-meats (beef, pork or chicken), organ-meats (liver, heart and kidneys), leafy vegetables (cauliflower, spinach, etc.), beans, seeds and nuts. Fruits such as strawberries and oranges also have sizeable amounts of CoQ10 in them. Among dietary supplements, this substance can be absorbed with relative ease when taken in the form of capsules. CoQ10 can be taken to minimize build-up of fluids (congestive heart ailments), hypertension, angina, chronic chest pain, etc. Its use can help avoid migraines, conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, etc. The contrary is also true – people living with conditions such as cardiac disorders, hypertension, etc. – are found to have reduced levels of CoQ10.

Side effects of CoQ10

Intake of CoQ10 supplements are generally considered safe for adults. In some people, it may trigger side effects such as nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, reduced appetite, skin rashes, hypotension (low blood pressure), abdominal conditions, etc. As the risks of hypotension are more likely to occur, it is a good practice to monitor your blood pressure in a routine manner. Some of the other side effects of using CoQ10 supplements are sleep related problems (i.e., inability to fall asleep or insomnia), persistent spells of itchiness, being in an irritated state of mind, restlessness, excessive levels of tiredness, being dizzy as well as feeling drowsy.

Moderately serious side effects

Acute or serious side effects of CoQ10 supplements are very uncommon. You are advised to tell your physician and pharmacist if you have any known allergies or hypersensitivity to this dietary supplement. Allergies may show up as swelling of oral parts, respiratory problems, hives or rashes on skin. Other possible serious effects of CoQ10 include frequent spells of drowsiness, higher count of enzyme secreted in liver, hypotension (decreased level of blood pressure), fainting, etc.

As a common precaution, you need to consider dividing your daily dose of this supplement into three different portions. Such portion-controlled intake of CoQ10 supplements can help control the severity of some of its serious side effects. In case of oral conditions such as gum diseases, CoQ10 supplements may be applied topically on your gums. Such topical application is unlikely to trigger any major or seriously harmful side effects.

In case of teens or children, it is generally safe if this supplement is administered orally. But, it is a good practice to administer CoQ10 on children with proper medical attention. Women who are nursing a baby may need to stay away from taking supplements of CoQ10. This is because of the absence of ample evidence on the safety of these supplements when consumed by infants; also, the extent to which this substance can pass through mother’s milk largely remains unknown. However, its safety levels have been fairly established when administered on women who are pregnant. Through clinical studies, it has been proven to be safe to take dosages of CoQ10 supplements during times of pregnancy. You are however advised to talk to your doctor prior to taking it while you are pregnant.

Likely interactions with other drugs

CoQ10 supplements may interact with a few other medications. It is hence important to tell your treating doctor or pharmacist about the medications you currently consume. In general, it is highly recommended to inform about the treatment plans that you may be presently pursuing.

CoQ10 is likely to reduce your blood pressure level. So, if you are taking anti-hypertensives such as valsartan, captopril, losartan, etc., you need to be extra-cautious about your medication plan. Such co-administration can bring down your blood pressure to a very low level. Beware of a few other supplements which can also reduce your blood pressure levels. These include items like fish-oil, peptides, L-arginine, etc.

Blood thinning medications are administered for treating problems relating to blood clots. But, CoQ10 is also likely to make blood to clot. So, the net outcome is a marked difference in the efficacy of blood thinners such as warfarin and other similar medications. It is a good practice to regularly monitor your blood clotting parameters. If the lab results indicate a change in blood clotting time, you need to inform your treating physician about it immediately. Safer alternatives are available to minimize or eliminate problems experienced with clotting of blood.

The supplementary form of this antioxidant is likely to interact with chemotherapeutic drugs, and may reduce the efficacy of cancer drugs. CoQ10 may also adversely interact with insulin or its alternatives among people who are living with high blood sugar, diabetes, insulin sensitivity issues, etc. Also, people who have an underactive thyroid gland may need to be careful while taking a supplement of CoQ10. This is because of the likelihood of its interactions with thyroid drugs.

Risks of overdose

A safer dose of CoQ10 supplement depends on your age, bodyweight and the reason why it is administered. Though dietary supplements are considered safe, you need to ensure the dose remains at less than 200 mg per day; however, ensure that the maximum dosage per day must never exceed 1,200 milligrams. You may need to know that the manufacture of CoQ10 supplements is not duly regulated. Owing to this, each manufacturer may make it with different specifications. The odds of an overdose of CoQ10 supplement are high if you buy the products made by unreliable producers.

The liquid variant of CoQ10 supplement may also need added caution. It is a good practice to use the dosage-measuring spoon, and not a kitchen-spoon. Each manufacturer may use a different form of CoQ10; some may use relatively passive ingredients – known as ubiquinone which takes relatively longer to get absorbed than other variants – say, compounds like ubiquinol, etc. In general, if you are using formulations of the supplement, you run a bigger risk of getting overdosed. This is because no two supplements contain the same variant of CoQ10 and may also be made with different concentration levels. Such variations exist because of the largely unregulated manufacturing practices employed in making this dietary supplement.

Also, if you have missed a dose of CoQ10 supplement, you need to take it as and when you remember about this forgotten dose. But, if your next dose if already coming close, then avoid taking the dose you missed. If you take two doses in very close time intervals, you run the risk of a likely overdose. It is recommended to talk to your pharmacist if you have any queries about how to handle a missed dose.

An overdose of CoQ10 may lead to drop in blood pressure and excessive dizziness. If you are experiencing breathing problems or passing out, you need to call 911 immediately. If you are a resident of Canada, you are advised to contact the nearest poison control center on an emergency basis. You need to remember that the aforesaid do not form an entire list of possible side effects of overdose. So, if you observe any other symptoms – i.e., apart from those listed above – you are advised to talk to your treating doctor or pharmacist.

Other precautions associated with the intake of CoQ10 supplement

If you are taking herbal supplements or medicines, it is highly recommended to check with your treating physician about the co-administration of CoQ10 supplement. If you are planning to undergo a dental procedure or a surgical intervention, you need to tell your dental surgeon / surgeon about its intake. The surgeon is likely to advise you to stop taking it for a fortnight prior to the date of your surgical or dental procedure.

Standard forms of ubiquinone need to be stored at ambient temperature; you need to ensure to keep it away from direct exposure to sunlight, excessive moisture or heat. It is also important to store it far away from the reach of pets and children.

In sum, CoQ10 supplements may trigger a few minor side effects such as rashes, reduction in appetite, abdominal conditions like nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. It is also likely to cause a drop in blood pressure level (i.e., hypotension). It is hence a good practice to monitor blood pressure levels regularly. A few serious side effects may involve allergies such as difficulties while breathing, hives, drowsiness, increased count of liver enzymes, etc. You are advised to talk to your treating physician if such side effects persist for a longer time.

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