Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a substance that is found naturally throughout the body and has also been synthesized in a supplement form. It is an antioxidant that plays a role in energy production of the cells, and the highest levels of CoQ10 can be found in the organ systems that consume the most energy (e.g., the heart, brain, liver, and kidneys). Levels of coenzyme Q10 decrease with age and with the presence of some chronic health conditions, such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and others.

In supplement form, coenzyme Q10 appears to have some effectiveness as a migraine preventative. It is usually taken in a watersoluble formulation (e.g., a liquid gel capsule), and is prescribed in daily doses, sometimes divided (i.e., taken at intervals throughout the day).


A study of children and adolescent migraineurs published in 2007 found a CoQ10 deficiency in study subjects. When daily supple-mentation of CoQ10 was prescribed, migraine frequency and disability were both reduced.

Unfortunately, there are only a handful of studies on CoQ10 to date, and most are small or not scientifically rigorous. While larger, long-term trials of CoQ10 are needed, it is worth noting that studies to date have found that CoQ10 supplementation cut migraine headache days by more than half in some patients.

Side Effects and Cautions

There are few side effects associated with CoQ10, and those that have been reported are typically mild. These include mild nausea, light sensitivity, fatigue, and dizziness. Potential allergic reactions to the supplement include rash and itching. Most side effects resolve quickly without treatment.

CoQ10 can decrease blood pressure and blood glucose levels, so people with pre-existing hypotension (low blood pressure) and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) should only use the supplement with caution under a doctor's care. The supplement may interact with some prescription and over-the-counter drugs, so always consult your doctor and/or pharmacist when adding it to your medication regimen.

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