CoQ10 : what it is and why we need it for our health

Libby Limon BSc NT mBANT / Oct 30, 2015

We speak to our VITL Head of Nutrition, Libby Limon, to explain how it works in the body and why it can be so useful supporting modern living.


CoQ10 is a vitamin-like compound present in virtually all cells, especially heart, liver, kidney and pancreas.  It was originally know as vitamin Q, although subsequently it was discovered that it is not classed as a vitamin because our bodies can make it ourselves. It has two main functions firstly it is a potent protective anti-oxidant and secondly it is co-factor in energy production.

It plays a key role as an antioxidant by neutralizing free radicals and preventing oxidative damage to the body’s cells, proteins, lipids and DNA.  CoQ10 can also regenerate the active forms of vitamin E and vitamin C, some of the most powerful water-soluble antioxidants.

Oxidative damage is linked to the development of diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease, and is a major factor in how we age.  Our body is constantly exposed to oxidative stress, by the world we live in… pollution, alcohol, pesticides, smoke, toxic metal etc. Even healthy things that we do like exercise, can increase the oxidation in the body, so it is crucial that we support our bodies with adequate anti-oxidants. Most of our anti-oxidants come from fruits and vegetables. We should be eating optimally 8-10 portions per day. If you are struggling to do that, CoQ10 may help boost your anti-oxidant status.

On the energy side, CoQ10 plays a major role, activating the supply of ATP, your energy currency. ATP is the end product of the combination of the food you eat and oxygen that you breath as fuel.  All your cells have mitochondria, imagine that these are the tiny engines producing the usable energy (ATP) and CoQ10 is the oil helping it run smoothly and efficiently.

As well as protecting against disease and ageing, in the more immediate term studies have shown that it may help with your workout performance, reducing fatigue.  If you are suffering chronic stress and or fatigue, CoQ10 may be helpful to improve you energy levels.

We make approximately 75% of the CoQ10 we use internally and then we consume the remaining 25% via our diets.   Unfortunately from our late twenties onwards our production starts to decline.  Whilst it is not commonly thought we become deficient in CoQ10 because of this endogenous production, as production declines it may come to be at a suboptimal level. Statins also severely deplete stores.

We typically can not consume more than 10mg per day via food. As you can see from the food table it isn’t available in foods in great quantities. To get the scientifically proven therapeutic dosages of 100mg+, supplements of CoQ10 can be very helpful.


Food Serving Coenzyme Q10 (mg)
Beef 100g 2.6
Herring, marinated 100g 2.3
Chicken 100g 1.4
Soybean oil 1 tablespoon 1.3
Canola oil 1 tablespoon 1.0
Rainbow trout, steamed 100g 0.9
Peanuts, roasted 30g 0.8
Sesame seeds, roasted 30g 0.7
Pistachio nuts, roasted 30g 0.6
Broccoli, boiled 1/2 cup, chopped 0.5
Cauliflower, boiled 1/2 cup, chopped 0.4
Orange 1 medium 0.3
Strawberries 1/2 cup 0.1
Egg, boiled 1 medium 0.1