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Does Coenzyme Q10 Have Benefits for PCOS?

coenzyme q10

Coenzyme Q10 is a popular over-the-counter supplement frequently used in a variety of conditions (such as heart conditions, migraines, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, and cancers) due to its role in cellular energy production and its antioxidant properties.

There has been a lot of chatter about coenzyme Q10 in my PCOS practice. A common question I get asked as a dietitian is: “should I be taking CoQ10 for PCOS?”. You may have been hearing people talking about using CoQ10 for PCOS on forums or through colleagues. 

This article explores what coenzyme Q10 is and whether it’s an effective tool for PCOS. We’ll also discuss side effects and optimal CoQ10 dosage for PCOS.

What is Co-Enzyme Q10?

Coenzyme Q10, AKA CoQ10 or ubiquinone, is a naturally occurring compound found in every cell of the body. It plays a crucial role in the production of energy within cells and serves as a powerful antioxidant.

Do you remember the electron transport chain from high school biology? Coenzyme Q10 is an important for producing energy in our mitochondria as part of this chain.

Coenzyme Q10 has gained attention in modern medicine primarily for its potential to act as an antioxidant, regulate blood sugar levels, and support heart health by lowering cholesterol and reducing inflammation. 

The body makes its own CoQ10, but it can also be obtained from foods. Foods rich in CoQ10 include fatty fish (like salmon and tuna), organ meats (like liver), and whole grains (like oats, barley, and whole wheat).

Supplements of CoQ10 can be great, especially for those with certain health conditions (such as PCOS) or for those taking medications that reduce CoQ10 levels (like statins).

coenzyme q10

Benefits of coenzyme Q10 for PCOS

Co-enzyme Q10 is thought to benefit those with PCOS. Early research has shown improvements in insulin sensitivity, inflammation, fertility, and heart health in those with PCOS.

May reduce inflammation

Coenzyme Q10 has shown potential in reducing inflammation in women with PCOS. A 2019 study found that CoQ10 supplementation significantly decreased serum levels of inflammatory markers, including C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6). Another 2016 clinical trial found that patients that took 100mg of coenzyme q10 daily had a significant increase in total antioxidant capacity.

These promising anti-inflammatory effects are attributed to CoQ10’s role as a potent antioxidant, which helps to neutralize oxidative stress—a known contributor to chronic inflammation in PCOS.

By reducing oxidative stress, CoQ10 helps to reduce the inflammatory processes that worsen pesky PCOS symptoms such as fatigue, insulin resistance, and weight gain.

May improve insulin resistance

Unfortunately, PCOS often leads to insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone required to control blood sugar in the body. With insulin resistance, the body’s cells cannot respond to insulin and thus blood sugars increase. This can further lead to diabetes, cause weight gain, and affect the function of the ovaries.

A meta-analysis of 9 randomized controlled trials and 1021 patients found that coenzyme Q10 supplementation improved insulin resistance, fasting insulin, and fasting blood sugars. Similarly,  in a smaller study of 86 women with PCOS, CoQ10 improved fasting blood sugar levels and markers of insulin resistance.

Overall, it appears that coenzyme Q10 has promising benefits for PCOS when it comes to improving blood sugars and insulin resistance. Managing blood sugars can reduce unwanted acne, weight gain, hair loss, diabetes development, infertility, and more.

May improve fertility and pregnancy outcomes

As you might already know, getting pregnant with polycystic ovary syndrome can be an uphill battle. One of the primary issues with PCOS is the disruption of the normal ovulation process. So, if you have PCOS, you may struggle to get pregnant because you may not be able to ovulate.

A clinical trial studied women with reduced ovary function and found that CoQ10 supplementation led to an increase in the number of eggs, a higher fertilization rate, and more high-quality embryos.

Additionally, the meta-analysis mentioned above also found that CoQ10 supplementation could improve levels of hormones such as FSH and testosterone, potentially leading to better fertility outcomes and regularity of ovulation.

In addition to working with a fertility specialist and endocrinologist, a nutritionist can help you create a diet plan for PCOS trying to conceive and boost fertility naturally. If you have PCOS and are trying to conceive but are experiencing difficulties, it is essential that you reach out to a nutritionist. You can book with me if you are looking for a Canada dietitian to support you.

COQ10 dosage for PCOS

Most of the human studies mentioned above recommend a dosage of 100mg (up to 600mg) of coenzyme Q10 daily.

Starting with a lower dose and gradually increasing can help minimize side effects. Dividing the daily dose into two or three smaller doses taken with meals may improve tolerance and absorption, too.

Coenzyme Q10 can be obtained in the supplements section at most pharmacies, grocery stores, and natural health stores. It can also be purchased online.

I recommend the following reputable brands:

Keep in mind that, as always, it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider before starting CoQ10 supplementation to determine the appropriate dosage for your specific needs and to ensure it doesn’t interact with any medications or medical conditions you may have.

Potential downsides of taking co-enzyme Q10 for PCOS

Side effects

CoQ10 and PCOS make a pretty good team. Coenzyme Q10 is generally safe and well-tolerated. A small minority of people may experience side effects. The most common side effects are usually mild and include:

  • Stomach issues: nausea, diarrhea, stomach upset
  • Neurological issues: headaches, dizziness, insomnia
  • Allergy: rash or itching

If you take a blood thinner, you must speak to your doctor before starting coenzyme Q10. CoQ10 might reduce the effectiveness of blood-thinning medications, which can be life-threatening.

CoQ10 and PCOS reliability

The supplement industry is not tightly regulated in Canada and the USA.

When purchasing CoQ10 supplements, you should think critically. Unlike prescription medications, supplements are not subject to stringent FDA oversight, leading to potential issues with product purity, potency, and labeling accuracy.

Choose supplements from reputable brands that provide transparent information about their manufacturing processes and sourcing. Reading customer reviews and consulting healthcare professionals for recommendations can also help you make informed decisions and select high-quality CoQ10 supplements.

Supplements can get expensive

When considering CoQ10 supplements for managing PCOS, it’s important to exercise caution due to the high cost of these products. We’re not trying to break the bank!

To avoid spending all your money, explore natural ways to manage blood sugar levels, inflammation, and improve fertility in addition to (or instead of) taking coenzyme Q10. A balanced diet rich in whole foods, including plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats, can significantly help with blood sugar control. Regular physical activity, such as walking, yoga, or strength training helps improve insulin sensitivity and overall metabolic health.

Eating anti-inflammatory foods can reduce whole-body inflammation without the need for coenzyme Q10. Good sources of antioxidants include:

  • Colourful fruits and vegetables (berries, citrus fruits, spinach, kale, bell peppers)
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Green tea
  • Turmeric
  • Dark chocolate
  • Olive oil

Also keep in mind that you can get Q10 from foods. Foods rich in CoQ10 include fatty fish (like salmon and tuna), organ meats (like liver), and whole grains (like oats, barley, and whole wheat).

co-enzyme q10 foods

Additionally, maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise can enhance fertility and reduce PCOS symptoms. Stress management techniques, such as mindfulness, meditation, or adequate sleep, are also crucial in supporting hormonal balance.

If you need personalized strategies for developing an integrated approach to managing PCOS without the need for expensive supplements, reach out to me! I am a PCOS nutritionist based in Halifax and would love to support you on your PCOS journey.

Looking for more PCOS nutrition tips?

I’ve got your back! Improve your eating habits with my PCOS Plate EBook and get back to what truly makes you feel good, inside and out. As a nutritionist specializing in PCOS, I’ve got the knowledge and experience to help you improve your health and glow from the inside out.
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The bottom line

Like all supplements, coenzyme Q10’s effects can be difficult to pinpoint and there is limited high-quality research on it. But the research that we do have suggests that, yes, coenzyme Q10 has benefits for PCOS, including helping you become pregnant, manage insulin levels, and reduce inflammation.  

I am a Halifax nutritionist specialized in PCOS. If you’re interested in trying coenzyme Q10 for PCOS, let’s chat!

Your Guide to Thriving with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

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