Does CoQ10 help anxiety?
Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health conditions worldwide, affecting over 284 million people. While medications and therapy are effective treatments, many people also turn to supplements like CoQ10 in hopes of finding relief from anxiety symptoms. But does CoQ10 actually help with anxiety? Let's take a closer look at the evidence.
- What is CoQ10?
- How CoQ10 May Help With Anxiety
- What Studies Show About CoQ10 and Anxiety
- CoQ10 Dosage for Anxiety
- Other Treatment Considerations for Anxiety
- The Bottom Line: Can CoQ10 Help With Anxiety?
- Resources used to write this article
What is CoQ10?
CoQ10, short for coenzyme Q10, is a substance produced naturally by the body. It is also found in various foods. As an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, CoQ10 is involved in several important processes in the body:
- Cell growth and maintenance
- Energy production
- Muscle contraction
- Immune function
- Brain health
CoQ10 levels can decrease with age or due to medical conditions like heart disease. That’s why many people take CoQ10 supplements to help maintain adequate levels in the body.
How CoQ10 May Help With Anxiety
Although research is still limited, there are a few potential ways that CoQ10 may help ease anxiety:
1. Increasing cellular energy
Anxiety has been linked to impaired cellular energy metabolism in some studies. As a vital component of the mitochondria where energy is produced, CoQ10 may help improve this energy imbalance.
Higher CoQ10 levels may enhance brain energy metabolism, which could reduce anxiety symptoms.
2. Acting as an antioxidant
Oxidative stress refers to cell damage caused by free radicals in the body. Research indicates it may play a role in anxiety disorders.
As a powerful antioxidant, CoQ10 could help mitigate this oxidative stress and protect the brain and body from its harmful effects.
3. Reducing inflammation
Neuroinflammation is increasingly being connected to anxiety disorders like generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety. CoQ10 has demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties that may decrease pro-inflammatory cytokines in the brain.
Lowering neuroinflammation could potentially improve anxiety in some individuals.
4. Improving blood flow
Changes in cerebral blood flow have been noted in some anxiety disorders. As an essential component of the electron transport chain that produces ATP, CoQ10 is needed for proper vasodilation to supply oxygenated blood to the brain and body.
CoQ10 supplements may promote blood flow and oxygen delivery, providing a calming effect.
So in theory, CoQ10 may target several mechanisms connected to anxiety. But what does the research actually say?
What Studies Show About CoQ10 and Anxiety
Most studies looking specifically at CoQ10 for anxiety are limited to animal research right now. However, the results are promising:
- In mice, CoQ10 reversed anxiety-like behavior caused by epilepsy drugs. It also restored levels of neurotransmitters involved in anxiety like serotonin and norepinephrine.
- CoQ10 decreased depression and anxiety-like symptoms in mice by regulating gene expression in the hippocampus.
- CoQ10 supplements reduced oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain while alleviating anxiety in rats.
- In diabetic rats, CoQ10 decreased anxiety-like behavior linked to chronic inflammation.
Some small human studies also provide preliminary support:
- Women with breast cancer taking 90 mg per day of CoQ10 showed significantly decreased anxiety and depression after 3 weeks.
- CoQ10 at dosages of 300 mg daily reduced anxiety in veterans with Gulf War illness, along with improving mitochondrial function.
- Fibromyalgia patients taking 100 mg per day of CoQ10 for 3 months saw reduced depression and anxiety, among other benefits.
Overall the current research indicates CoQ10 has potential anti-anxiety effects that correlate with its roles in the body. More large-scale human studies are still needed to confirm benefits.
CoQ10 Dosage for Anxiety
Most research reporting anti-anxiety benefits of CoQ10 use doses between 90 to 300 mg per day, split into 2 or 3 doses. The capsules are best taken with food containing fat for optimal absorption.
As a fat soluble antioxidant, CoQ10 supplements should be stored in a cool, dry place and protected from light. For some, divided lower doses like 100 mg per day may be preferable to minimize any potential digestive side effects when starting supplementation.
Those on medication should consult a doctor before taking CoQ10, as it can interact with certain drugs like blood thinners. Anyone with anxiety should also speak to their healthcare provider before trying new supplements.
Other Treatment Considerations for Anxiety
While CoQ10 may help reduce anxiety for some individuals, it should not replace standard treatment approaches. Other proven strategies include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) - CBT focuses on changing thought and behavior patterns that contribute to anxiety. It is highly effective for treating anxiety disorders.
- Medications - Anti-anxiety medications like SSRIs or benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed to control anxiety symptoms. They should be taken only under a doctor’s supervision.
- Relaxation techniques - Methods like deep breathing, meditation, yoga, massage, or aromatherapy can activate the parasympathetic nervous system to induce relaxation.
- Exercise - Regular exercise lowers stress hormones like cortisol and releases endorphins, reducing anxiety. 30-60 minutes per day is ideal.
- Healthy diet - Limiting caffeine, reducing inflammatory foods, and eating more antioxidants like berries, nuts, and fatty fish can improve anxiety.
For best results, CoQ10 can be used in combination with other lifestyle approaches to support overall mental health. Monitoring anxiety levels and mood is also recommended to gauge effectiveness.
The Bottom Line: Can CoQ10 Help With Anxiety?
Current evidence indicates CoQ10 has promising anti-anxiety effects, likely due to its roles in cellular energy, inflammation, oxidative stress, and blood flow. Preliminary studies in both animals and humans show reductions in anxiety symptoms when taking CoQ10 supplements.
However, large-scale, long-term human research is still needed to fully validate the benefits of CoQ10 for anxiety specifically. Overall, CoQ10 appears to be safe and may provide moderate relief as part of a broader anxiety management plan. But optimal dosage, duration of effects, and interactions require further study.
Individuals struggling with an anxiety disorder should always consult a mental health professional first. CoQ10 may offer an additional way to potentially support treatment, but should not replace other medical care, therapy, and lifestyle approaches that are necessary for properly managing this complex condition.
Resources used to write this article
On CoQ10 and how it works in the body:
On the connection between CoQ10 and anxiety:
On dosages of CoQ10 for anxiety:
On other anxiety treatments: