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Does CoQ10 raise cholesterol?

Coenzyme Q10, also known as CoQ10, is a vitamin-like substance that is produced naturally in the body. It plays an important role as an antioxidant and is involved in cellular energy production. CoQ10 supplements have become popular due to claims that they can improve heart health, slow aging, and provide other health benefits. However, some people wonder if CoQ10 can negatively impact cholesterol levels.

Quick Answer

Overall, research shows that CoQ10 supplementation does not raise cholesterol levels. In fact, some studies have found that CoQ10 may help improve cholesterol profiles by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol and raising HDL (good) cholesterol.

Does CoQ10 raise LDL cholesterol?

There is no strong evidence that CoQ10 supplementation significantly increases LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, also known as “bad” cholesterol. LDL cholesterol builds up on artery walls and increases the risk of heart disease.

Some small studies have reported slight increases in total and LDL cholesterol with CoQ10 supplementation, while others found no effect. A meta-analysis of 12 clinical trials found that CoQ10 supplementation did not significantly alter total, LDL, or HDL cholesterol levels.

Importantly, most studies used CoQ10 dosages of 100-200 mg per day. There is little research on very high dosages over 300 mg per day, so the effects on cholesterol at high doses are less clear.

Overall, research suggests CoQ10 is unlikely to raise cholesterol levels when used at standard supplemental dosages of up to 200 mg per day. However, people with high cholesterol should monitor their lipid profiles when starting CoQ10 to ensure no adverse effects.

Does CoQ10 improve cholesterol levels?

Some evidence suggests CoQ10 may actually improve cholesterol profiles, especially in people with pre-existing high cholesterol or heart disease. Small clinical studies have reported that CoQ10 supplementation:

  • Lowers total cholesterol
  • Reduces LDL (bad) cholesterol
  • Increases HDL (good) cholesterol
  • Decreases the LDL/HDL cholesterol ratio

A meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled trials found that CoQ10 supplementation significantly lowered both total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol compared to placebo. The average reductions were 14.5 mg/dL for total cholesterol and 10.2 mg/dL for LDL cholesterol.

Additionally, CoQ10 may protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation, which makes LDL particles less likely to accumulate in arteries. Overall, current research suggests CoQ10 not only avoids raising cholesterol, but moderately improves cholesterol profiles, especially when elevated at baseline.

How does CoQ10 affect cholesterol?

Researchers are not entirely sure how CoQ10 may improve cholesterol levels. However, some potential mechanisms include:

  • Improved cellular energy production: CoQ10 plays a key role in mitochondria, the energy powerhouses of cells. Enhanced mitochondrial function may improve overall cellular function and cholesterol metabolism.
  • Antioxidant effects: CoQ10 acts as an antioxidant, which could reduce LDL oxidation and improve cholesterol particle profiles.
  • Anti-inflammatory effects: Inflammation is a risk factor for high cholesterol and heart disease. CoQ10 may reduce inflammation.

More research is still needed to better understand the relationship between CoQ10 supplementation, cholesterol regulation, and heart disease risk.

Who may benefit from CoQ10?

Research suggests CoQ10 supplementation may provide the most benefit for:

  • People with high baseline cholesterol
  • Those taking statin medications
  • Individuals with heart disease or heart failure
  • Middle-aged and older adults
  • Anyone with CoQ10 deficiency

Statin medications like atorvastatin (Lipitor) can deplete CoQ10 levels. Supplementing with CoQ10 may help replenish this loss. Older adults also tend to have lower CoQ10 levels that could potentially be improved with supplementation.

CoQ10 dosage and safety

The recommended daily dosage of CoQ10 for adults is typically 100-200 mg per day. Doses up to 500 mg appear to be safe for most individuals based on current research.

However, there is limited evidence on the safety of very high CoQ10 doses over 300 mg per day. Some studies used dosages of 600-1200 mg per day with minimal side effects, while others reported possible adverse effects at doses over 300 mg.

Until more research is done, it is recommended to stay under 600 mg per day unless supervised by a doctor. Always follow dosage instructions on supplements. Discuss appropriate dosing with your healthcare provider.

CoQ10 supplements are widely available over the counter in various forms, including softgels, liquids, powders, and lozenges. CoQ10 is also found naturally in small amounts in foods like meat, fish, nuts, seeds, and vegetables.

CoQ10 is generally considered safe with little risk of side effects at typical dosages. Possible side effects can include nausea, diarrhea, insomnia, skin rashes, and headaches.

CoQ10 may also interact with certain medications including blood thinners, chemotherapy drugs, and diabetes medications. Be sure to consult your healthcare provider before starting supplementation.

The bottom line

Based on current research, CoQ10 supplementation is unlikely to raise cholesterol when used at recommended dosages of 100-200 mg per day. Not only is CoQ10 safe for heart health, some studies report modest reductions in total and LDL cholesterol.

Individuals at risk of high cholesterol may benefit from CoQ10’s potential to improve cholesterol profiles and lower heart disease risk. However, it’s a good idea to get baseline cholesterol tests and monitor lipid levels periodically if taking CoQ10.

As with any supplement, consult your healthcare provider before starting CoQ10, especially if you take medications or have an underlying health condition.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does CoQ10 lower cholesterol?

Some research indicates CoQ10 can modestly lower cholesterol levels. A meta-analysis of clinical trials found CoQ10 supplementation significantly reduced total cholesterol by 14.5 mg/dL on average and LDL cholesterol by 10.2 mg/dL compared to placebo.

Should you take CoQ10 with statins?

CoQ10 supplementation is often recommended for people taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs like atorvastatin, simvastatin, and rosuvastatin. Statins deplete the body’s natural CoQ10 levels, so supplementing may help replenish this loss.

What foods contain CoQ10?

The richest dietary sources of CoQ10 include:

  • Organ meats like liver, kidney, and heart
  • Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Soybeans
  • Peanuts
  • Spinach
  • Cauliflower
  • Oranges

However, it can be difficult to get therapeutic dosages of CoQ10 from food alone. For example, 1 lb of sardines contains about 5mg of CoQ10. Supplements can provide up to 1200 mg of CoQ10 per daily serving.

How long does it take for CoQ10 to work?

It typically takes 2-3 weeks of consistent CoQ10 supplementation to see initial benefits. Maximum concentrations of CoQ10 in the blood are reached around 6 weeks. However, effects on cholesterol and heart disease risk markers may take 3-6 months.

When should you take CoQ10 morning or night?

CoQ10 supplements can be taken any time of day with or without food. However, some evidence suggests taking CoQ10 in the evening may be better for heart health. This is because endogenous CoQ10 production seems to peak at night.

Table summarizing the effects of CoQ10 on cholesterol

Study CoQ10 Dosage Duration Results on Cholesterol
Double-blind RCT in 74 adults 60 mg/day 28 days Decreased total cholesterol and LDL. No change in HDL.
Double-blind RCT in 144 adults 100 mg/day 3 months Decreased total cholesterol and increased HDL. No change in LDL.
Double-blind RCT in 151 adults 200 mg/day 4 weeks No significant effect on total, LDL, or HDL cholesterol.
Meta-analysis of 13 RCTs 60-300 mg/day 4-12 weeks Significantly lowered total and LDL cholesterol compared to placebo.


Based on current evidence, CoQ10 supplementation does not appear to raise cholesterol levels at standard dosages of up to 200 mg per day. In fact, some studies report modest reductions in total and LDL cholesterol.

Individuals at risk for high cholesterol, such as those on statin medications or with heart disease, may benefit from CoQ10. However, it’s a good idea to monitor your cholesterol periodically if taking CoQ10 supplements.

As always, consult your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement, especially if you take medications or have an underlying condition.