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What is CoQ10, Coenzyme Q-10?

Medically reviewed by Norbert Gleicher, MD, FACOG, FACS - Written by CHR Staff - Updated on May 20, 2019

CoQ10 is an antioxidant that occurs naturally in our bodies. The cells in our bodies use CoQ10 primarily for two things: Energy metabolism and protection from damages. Therefore, CoQ10 is found in organs that need these functions the most, such as the heart and liver. Most healthy people produce enough CoQ10 naturally, but CoQ10 supplementation has become quite popular. Studies conducted on CoQ10’s health benefits on heart disease, blood pressure and other conditions, however, have been largely inconclusive. CoQ10 fertility benefits have been better studied in men than in women, although CoQ10 is used as a female fertility supplement. Based on studies conducted mostly in animal models, CHR have been successfully using CoQ10 supplementation to improve egg quality in women with diminished ovarian reserve.

CoQ10 Functions as Facilitator of Cell Metabolism

Mitochondria in a Cell

In order to function properly, cells require energy. The “batteries” of our cells that produce the necessary energy are small structures within the cytoplasm of cells, called mitochondria. Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10 for short, is one of the main antioxidants that facilitate the mitochondria’s energy metabolism in each of our cells. CoQ10 transports electrons and protons into the mitochondria, helping them maintain membrane potential. CoQ10 also drives synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a molecule that acts like a rechargeable battery, supplying essential energy to all cells of the body.

While all cells require mitochondria to function and develop, this need is higher in larger cells. Mature egg cells (oocytes) are the by far biggest cells in a woman’s body. As such, eggs require more and bigger “batteries” if they are to function well. Particularly during the maturation process (called folliculogenesis), egg cells require a significant amount of energy in order to develop into normal, healthy eggs. Antioxidants like CoQ10 facilitate their proper function in eggs--as well as sperm. Though sperm is much smaller than an egg, sperm’s active motility also mandates significant energy for proper function.

CoQ10 facilitates energy metabolism in cells through mitochondria

CoQ10 functions as a facilitator of cell metabolism by helping mitochondria, a tiny organelle inside our cells that generate energy for the cells.

CoQ10 Benefits the Cells via Prevention of Oxidative Damage

Studies have shown that CoQ10 protects mitochondria from oxidative damage. Oxidative damage, caused by excessive oxygen radicals, accumulates with advancing age. Meanwhile, natural levels of CoQ10 in the body, which protects against oxidative damage, decline with age. Some researchers have speculated that this drop in CoQ10 levels may have a role in the general aging process, including in the age-related natural decline in fertility. Older women and men with age-related natural decline in ovarian and testicular function may, therefore, likely see the most benefit from CoQ10 supplementation.

What is CoQ10?

CHR's Medical Director and Chief Scientist, Dr. Norbert Gleicher, explains what CoQ10 is, and why CoQ10 can improve egg quality.

Because large mature oocytes require a significant amount of energy and antioxidant protection, CoQ10 dosages for fertility should be higher than in other medical areas where this antioxidant is also frequently used (for example, in cardiology). Appropriate daily dosage of 1000mg have been suggested for women and men to support of egg and sperm quality through fostering robust energy metabolism and protection from DNA damage by oxidative stress.

CoQ10 Side Effects

CoQ10 is considered generally safe with few side effects. Reported side effects of CoQ10 include gastrointestinal issues like nausea, diarrhea and loss of appetite; headaches; insomnia; dizziness; rashes; fatigue and irritability. CHR’s patients on CoQ10 supplementation have reported only occasional and mild side effects from CoQ10 use. However, CoQ10 should always be taken under the supervision of a physician.

Norbert Gleicher, MD, FACOG, FACS

Norbert Gleicher, MD, FACOG, FACS

Norbert Gleicher, MD, leads CHR’s clinical and research efforts as Medical Director and Chief Scientist. A world-renowned specialist in reproductive endocrinology, Dr. Gleicher has published hundreds of peer-reviewed papers and lectured globally while keeping an active clinical career focused on ovarian aging, immunological issues and other difficult cases of infertility.