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Home > Learn > Nutrition > >CoQ10 Food Sources

CoQ10 Food Sources

Nov 17, 23 8 min

Originally published 02/27/2023. Updated for accuracy and relevancy on 11/27/2023

Coenzyme Q10 is an essential nutrient for women's fertility & overall health. Learn the top food sources of CoQ10 to maintain healthy CoQ10 levels.

By OBGYN Dr. Kenosha Gleaton

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a powerful antioxidant that has a lot of positive effects on the body. CoQ10 is naturally occurring and can be found in a variety of different foods, such as fatty fish and organ meat. Let’s take a look at how you can obtain CoQ10 through your diet.

What Is CoQ10?

There is a naturally occurring nutrient in every cell of the body that’s essential for the health of our organs, fighting off cellular damage, and boosting our immune system.1 That nutrient is CoQ10, and it has a lot of other benefits, including improving male fertility and egg health, and there are many CoQ10 skin benefits.3,4 CoQ10 acts as an antioxidant, fighting off free radicals and preventing damage to our tissues. A free radical is a molecule that has one or more unpaired electrons. When exposed to cells for a long time, free radicals can cause damage to DNA, the cell membrane, and other molecules, leading to an increased risk of cancer and cellular damage.5 CoQ10 is found in high amounts in certain parts of the body, including the testes, ovaries, and eggs, but levels of CoQ10 tend to decrease as we age.1,2

Why Do I Need CoQ10?

Adequate amounts of CoQ10 allow the body to function properly, including brain function, organ systems, muscle strength, and more. Some diseases have been associated with decreased levels of CoQ10, such as fibromyalgia, diabetes, cancer, congestive heart failure, and others.8 Aside from its antioxidant properties, there are many benefits to consuming CoQ10 and CoQ10 foods.

Heart Health

Studies have shown that CoQ10 may decrease the risk of major cardiovascular events and improve symptoms of heart failure.9 It’s also been found that CoQ10 may help to prevent heart surgery complications. We also know that CoQ10 has been associated with improving muscle aches that are associated with statin drugs (drugs that help lower cholesterol).10,11

Egg and Embryo Quality

Most research tells us that egg quality begins to decrease after age 35, which isn’t ideal for those hoping to conceive in their late 30’s and early 40’s.12 It’s recommended by some fertility specialists that women begin taking a CoQ10 supplement by age 30, or eating CoQ10 foods, to support egg quality, improve the chance of conceiving, and improve embryo quality.13,14

Male Fertility

CoQ10 can also support some male fertility parameters. A meta-analysis concluded that CoQ10 may improve sperm count, sperm motility, and sperm concentration.15 Research also shows that the antioxidant effect of CoQ10 can help decrease sperm DNA fragmentation, a common factor of male infertility.16 Lastly, some individuals may benefit from CoQ10 supplementation for improved erectile function and penile curvature.8

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What Foods Contain CoQ10?

There are many foods that contain CoQ10, ranging from organ meats to whole grains to fatty fish. The largest CoQ10 content is found in foods such as reindeer, organ meats (specifically beef, pork, chicken, and fish hearts), and oily fish.6 As reindeer and beef hearts likely don’t make up the average person’s diet, I’ve summarized the findings from a comprehensive review to give you a better idea of how much CoQ10 may be in the foods you’re consuming on a more regular basis:

Foods

CoQ10 content (mg/kg)6

Soybean oil

221-279

Olive oil

109-160

Peanut oil

77

Mackerel

11-67

Pork shoulder

45

Beef shoulder

40

Chicken breast

8-17

Canned Tuna

15-16

Herring

14.9-27

Egg yolk

5

Butter

7

 

The ranges you see could be attributed to the parts of the food (red meat vs. white meat) or include the intervals found in more than one reliable study. The amount of CoQ10 needed for proper functioning of the body is obtained through the diet for most people. 

For specific health benefits or those with particular health conditions, additional CoQ10 supplementation may be needed [1].

How Much CoQ10 Do I Need?

It’s estimated that the whole body content of CoQ10 ranges from 500 to 1500 mg and decreases with age [1].  There is no established daily recommended amount of CoQ10 or any minimum or maximum dosages for supplementation. To have therapeutic effects, the average amount of CoQ10 needed is around 400 mg a day.17 Speak with your healthcare provider for recommendations on your intake of CoQ10 and other nutrients.  

CoQ10 Supplements

CoQ10 supplements often come in two different forms, ubiquinol and ubiquinone . The body uses both forms of CoQ10 and shifts between them regularly, and research shows that one form of CoQ10 supplement isn’t necessarily better than the other.7 We do know that ubiquinone is fat-soluble, so it’s best to take with a meal for better absorption. You may find CoQ10 supplements as gel capsules, tablets, hard shell capsules, and even gummies. The typical dose of CoQ10 supplements can range anywhere from 30 to 200mg a day [1].

Side Effects

Side effects of CoQ10 supplements will vary from person to person, but some reported side effects include8:

  • Upset stomach
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Mild insomnia
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Heartburn
  • Fatigue

Most side effects are minor and rare, but if you are experiencing any strange symptoms, be sure to visit a healthcare provider. 

Key Takeaways

  • CoQ10 is an antioxidant that boosts the immune system, contributes to energy production, and fights off cellular damage.
  • Every cell in the body contains CoQ10, although some organs and tissues contain higher amounts, including the heart, testes, ovaries, and eggs.
  • Some diseases have been associated with  CoQ10 deficiency, such as fibromyalgia, diabetes, cancer, heart failure, etc.
  • Foods such as reindeer, organ meats (specifically beef, pork, chicken, and fish hearts), and oily, fatty fish have the largest CoQ10 concentration.
  • You can also find CoQ10 in soybean oil, olive oil, mackerel, pork shoulder, chicken breast, tuna, and more. 

 

References:

  1. Saini R. Coenzyme Q10: The essential nutrient. J Pharm Bioallied Sci. 2011;3(3):466-467. doi:10.4103/0975-7406.84471
  2. Zhang D, Keilty D, Zhang ZF, Chian RC. Mitochondria in oocyte aging: current understanding. Facts Views Vis Obgyn. 2017;9(1):29-38.
  3. Salas-Huetos A, Rosique-Esteban N, Becerra-Tomás N, Vizmanos B, Bulló M, Salas-Salvadó J. The Effect of Nutrients and Dietary Supplements on Sperm Quality Parameters: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. Adv Nutr. 2018;9(6):833-848. doi:10.1093/advances/nmy057
  4. Akarsu S, Gode F, Isik AZ, Dikmen ZG, Tekindal MA. The association between coenzyme Q10 concentrations in follicular fluid with embryo morphokinetics and pregnancy rate in assisted reproductive techniques [published correction appears in J Assist Reprod Genet. 2017 May;34(5):607]. J Assist Reprod Genet. 2017;34(5):599-605. doi:10.1007/s10815-017-0882-x
  5. Lobo V, Patil A, Phatak A, Chandra N. Free radicals, antioxidants and functional foods: Impact on human health. Pharmacogn Rev. 2010;4(8):118-126. doi:10.4103/0973-7847.70902
  6. Pravst, Igor, Žmitek, Katja and Žmitek, Janko(2010) 'Coenzyme Q10 Contents in Foods and Fortification Strategies', Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 50: 4, 269 — 280
  7. Pravst I, Rodríguez Aguilera JC, Cortes Rodriguez AB, et al. Comparative Bioavailability of Different Coenzyme Q10 Formulations in Healthy Elderly Individuals. Nutrients. 2020;12(3):784. Published 2020 Mar 16. doi:10.3390/nu12030784
  8. Sood B, Keenaghan M. Coenzyme Q10. [Updated 2022 Jan 19]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan
  9. Mortensen SA, Rosenfeldt F, Kumar A, et al. The effect of coenzyme Q10 on morbidity and mortality in chronic heart failure: results from Q-SYMBIO: a randomized double-blind trial. JACC Heart Fail. 2014;2(6):641-649. doi:10.1016/j.jchf.2014.06.008
  10. de Frutos F, Gea A, Hernandez-Estefania R, Rabago G. Prophylactic treatment with coenzyme Q10 in patients undergoing cardiac surgery: could an antioxidant reduce complications? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Interact Cardiovasc Thorac Surg. 2015;20(2):254-259. doi:10.1093/icvts/ivu334
  11. Qu H, Guo M, Chai H, Wang WT, Gao ZY, Shi DZ. Effects of Coenzyme Q10 on Statin-Induced Myopathy: An Updated Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. J Am Heart Assoc. 2018;7(19):e009835. doi:10.1161/JAHA.118.009835
  12. GBD 2017 Population and Fertility Collaborators. Population and fertility by age and sex for 195 countries and territories, 1950-2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017 [published correction appears in Lancet. 2019 Jun 22;393(10190):e44]. Lancet. 2018;392(10159):1995-2051. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(18)32278-5
  13. Zhang Y, Zhang C, Shu J, et al. Adjuvant treatment strategies in ovarian stimulation for poor responders undergoing IVF: a systematic review and network meta-analysis. Hum Reprod Update. 2020;26(2):247-263. doi:10.1093/humupd/dmz046
  14. Akarsu S, Gode F, Isik AZ, Dikmen ZG, Tekindal MA. The association between coenzyme Q10 concentrations in follicular fluid with embryo morphokinetics and pregnancy rate in assisted reproductive techniques [published correction appears in J Assist Reprod Genet. 2017 May;34(5):607]. J Assist Reprod Genet. 2017;34(5):599-605. doi:10.1007/s10815-017-0882-x
  15. Salas-Huetos A, Rosique-Esteban N, Becerra-Tomás N, Vizmanos B, Bulló M, Salas-Salvadó J. The Effect of Nutrients and Dietary Supplements on Sperm Quality Parameters: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. Adv Nutr. 2018;9(6):833-848. doi:10.1093/advances/nmy057
  16. Alahmar AT, Calogero AE, Sengupta P, Dutta S. Coenzyme Q10 Improves Sperm Parameters, Oxidative Stress Markers and Sperm DNA Fragmentation in Infertile Patients with Idiopathic Oligoasthenozoospermia. World J Mens Health. 2021;39(2):346-351. doi:10.5534/wjmh.190145
  17. Raizner AE. Coenzyme Q10. Methodist Debakey Cardiovasc J. 2019;15(3):185-191. doi:10.14797/mdcj-15-3-185
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