Co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10), also known as ubiquinol or ubiquinone, is a vitamin-like substance that plays a critical role in cellular energy. It is not a vitamin because, when functioning normally, our bodies are able to produce all that we need.
It has a number of functions: it acts as an antioxidant, a membrane stabilizer, and as a participant in many metabolic pathways. With respect to fibromyalgia, it's metabollic activity is particularly important. Cells have "energy factories" called mitochondria which are involved in converting energy from food into an energy-loaded molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in the process of oxidative respiration. If the mitochondria are not able to complete this conversion, the cells will not have enough energy to function properly. One of the symptoms of this is fatigue.
Researchers have theorized that the peculiar fatigue of fibromyalgia may be due to mitochondrial failure (1). More specifically, it seems as though there is a CoQ10 deficiency that develops. A 2008 study found that the blood distribution of CoQ10 is different in people with fibromyalgia from those who don't have the condition (2). The theory is further supported by the fact that people with fibromyalgia improve symptomatically when supplemented with CoQ10 (3).
- Blood pressure medications (additive effects)
- Chemotherapeutic agents (depletion)
- Warfarin (counteracts)
Oral supplements are usually well-tolerated but may infrequently cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, appetite suppression, heartburn, and epigastric discomfort. These effects can usually be minimized by taking small doses throughout the day to reach the recommended therapeutic dose level. Coenzyme Q-10 in soy bean oil appears to have superior bioavailability compared to other formulations. Doses range from 60 mg to 2400 mg per day, depending on the condition being treated. Consult your medical doctor or ND before starting to supplement CoQ10.
(1) Cordero, Mario D., et al. "Oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction in fibromyalgia." Neuroendocrinology Letters 31.2 (2010).
(2) Cordero, Mario D., et al. "Coenzyme Q10 distribution in blood is altered in patients with fibromyalgia." Clinical biochemistry 42.7 (2009): 732-735.
(3) Filler, Kristin, et al. "Association of mitochondrial dysfunction and fatigue: A review of the literature." BBA Clinical 1 (2014): 12-23.