6 Potential Benefits Of Coenzyme Q10 For Peripheral Neuropathy

Shruti Baikerikar

(B.E. Biotechnology, PG Clinical Research)
Independent Researcher, Health Writer & Founder of Salubrainous [Full Bio]

Coenzyme Q10 for neuropathy

Name: Coenzyme Q10, CoQ10, Ubiquinone, Ubiquinol
Goes well with: Acetyl-l-carnitine, Alpha Lipoic acid, Magnesium, Vitamin B
Number of scientific references: 37
Level of Evidence: Level II What is this?

Note: Coenzyme Q10 benefits in peripheral neuropathy as an antioxidant and pain relieving agent. It can particulary benefit in drug-induced neuropathy such as statin induced neuropathy.

It has potential therapeutic benefits for neuropathy, but these still need to be adequately researched in human studies.

Coenzyme Q10 is the raw material used by our cells for respiration and energy production. It has other functions such as supporting antioxidant defences, regulating cell death and temperature of the body, DNA repair etc.

Mitochondria are the energy-producing units of the cells. Cellular ATP or energy production requires multiple enzymes, micronutrients and other cofactors. Dysfunction of the mitochondria is observed in peripheral neuropathy.

Coenzyme Q10 supplementation helps to ameliorate mitochondrial dysfunction and boost antioxidant defences. Coenzyme Q10 is available in oxidised form as ubiquinone or reduced form as ubiquinol.

Deficiency in CoQ10 leads to reduced ATP and increases reactive oxygen species which contribute to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is identified as one of the causes of peripheral neuropathy.

CoQ10 is proven to help in neuropathy by reducing oxidative stress, protecting from neurotoxicity and relieving neuropathic pain. It also improves metabolic health to reduce complications and damage to metabolic health.

The therapeutic potential of CoQ10 for peripheral neuropathy has been proven in animal studies and need to be confirmed by human studies.

Suggested Coenzyme Q10 Supplements For Peripheral Neuropathy

Please consult a health practitioner before taking any health supplement.

Ubiquinone Supplements

Ubiquinone supplements in the form of gel/softgel capsules help in increasing absorption of CoQ10. If taking tablets,powder form or other capsules that do not contain oil, it is best to consume them after a meal rich in healthy fats.

Bio-Quinon Q10

Bio-Quinon Q10 is developed by Pharma Nord Inc., US. This is the formulation that has been used in KiSel-10 and Q-Symbio study. It is an expensive supplement but can be trusted for its quality.

Dosage: 100-200mg/day

Buy from Amazon (US, UK, Canada)

 

Image Credit: Pharma Nord, Inc.

Here are a few other relatively inexpensive dietary supplements that provide ubiquinone in an absorbable form and are reported to help with peripheral neuropathy and pain by users.

Dosage: 100-200mg/day

Qunol Ultra CoQ10 Doctor’s Best High Absorption CoQ10 with Bioperine

Image Credit:Quten Research Institute

Image Credit: Doctor’s Best

100mg ubiquinone with vitamin E in softgel capsule

Caution: Contains soy. Please read full ingredient list.

100mg ubiquinone with black pepper extract (bioperine) and extra virgin olive oil in softgel capsules

Caution: Contains beeswax. Please read full ingredient list.

Buy from Amazon or Buy from iHerb

Buy similar veg supplement from Amazon or iHerb

Buy from Amazon or Buy from iHerb

Buy similar veg supplement from Amazon or iHerb

Ubiquinol Supplements

Ubiquinol is the reduced form of ubiquinone. Though it is said to be a more absorbable form, ubiquinol is likely to help very few individuals (according to CoQ10 research experts).

Ubiquinone benefits most of the population. Also ubiquinol is more expensive than ubiquinone.

Dosage: 150-200mg/day

Jarrow Formulas Ubiquinol QH-Absorb BlueBonnet CellularActive CoQ10 Ubiquinol

Image Credit: Jarrow Formulas

ubiquinol veg

Image Credit: Bluebonnet Nutrition Corporation

100mg ubiquinol (Kaneka-QH) per softgel capsule 100mg ubiquinol (Kaneka-QH) per vegetarian softgel capsule

Buy from Amazon

Buy from iHerb

Buy from Amazon

Buy from iHerb

6 Potential Benefits of CoQ10 For Peripheral Neuropathy

Let’s explore the research assessing the possible benefits of CoQ10 in peripheral neuropathy.

1.CoQ10 may prevent diabetic neuropathy

El-ghoroury et al. studied the antioxidant capacity of type 2 diabetes patients and its relation with blood sugar levels. They observed that markers of oxidative stress were higher in diabetic patients than in healthy individuals.

Coenzyme Q10 levels were lower in diabetic patients than healthy individuals. This indicated that diabetic patients had the low antioxidant capacity. Poor control over blood sugar levels was associated with an increase in oxidative stress.

Interestingly a study published in Journal of Diabetes and Its Complications, 2015 reported that CoQ10 levels were high in type 2 diabetes patients compared to non-diabetic individuals.

Increase in lipid levels, high glucose levels and inflammation led to increases in oxidative stress. Coenzyme Q10 levels increased in response to oxidative stress. High oxidative stress was associated with increased heart risk and peripheral neuropathy.

Coenzyme Q10 levels are disturbed in diabetic patients because of oxidative stress and reduced antioxidant defences. Thus, it is hypothesized that supplementation with CoQ10 can help reduce oxidative stress and prevent diabetes complications like peripheral neuropathy.

In an animal model of diabetic neuropathy, Coenzyme Q10 supplementation helped reduce diabetic neuropathic pain by reducing oxidative stress. It served as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.

Multiple animal studies have found C0Q10 as a therapeutic and preventative strategy for diabetic neuropathy.

Akbari Fakhrabadi et al. investigated the effects of CoQ10 supplementation in diabetic neuropathy. 70 patients were enrolled in the study and treated with 200mg CoQ10 per day for 12 weeks.

Improvement in total antioxidant capacity, inflammatory markers and insulin sensitivity was observed. But no significant improvement in neuropathy symptoms and nerve function was observed.

Recently a study published in Journal of Global Diabetes & Clinical Metabolism, 2017 highlighted the effect of CoQ10 supplementation in diabetic polyneuropathy. The patients were treated with 400mg CoQ10 every four weeks for 16 weeks.

The therapy resulted in significant improvement in antioxidant capacity and CoQ10 levels, but no significant effect on DNA damage was observed.

Apart from these human studies that have observed no benefits of CoQ10 in peripheral neuropathy, there has been one study that shows contrasting results.

Hernández-Ojeda and colleagues treated 49 diabetic polyneuropathy patients with ubiquinone (oxidised form of CoQ10) or placebo for 12 weeks. They received 400mg ubiquinone or placebo per day.

Those treated with ubiquinone experienced significant improvement in neuropathy symptom score, neuropathy impairment as well as in nerve function. A decrease in oxidative damage markers was also observed.

Researchers concluded that 12-week therapy with ubiquinone improves nerve conduction and clinical outcomes as well as reduces oxidative stress in diabetic polyneuropathy.

Quick Gist: High levels of oxidative stress in diabetes can cause nerve damage and peripheral neuropathy.

CoQ10 helps lower oxidative stress, reduces glucose levels and improves insulin sensitivity. These improvements can help protect nerve health. One study reports that 400mg/day of ubiquinone for 12 weeks benefits in diabetic polyneuropathy.

These findings need to be corroborated with thorough research in human studies. If taken at early stages, CoQ10 may help prevent diabetic neuropathy.

2.It can protect from neurotoxicity of chemotherapeutic agents

Coenzyme Q10 levels are low in cancer patients. Its supplementation as an add-on to cancer therapy is looked forward to as an antioxidant strategy.

Neurotoxicity associated with chemotherapy is one of the factors that lead to high dropout rate in cancer therapy. Coenzyme Q10 protects from such neurotoxicity.

In an experimental study, water-soluble CoQ10 reduced cisplatin neurotoxicity. Cisplatin prevented the development of new neurons, and CoQ10 was found to reverse this inhibitory activity. CoQ10 stimulated nerve growth, prevented DNA damage and offered neuroprotection.

Celebi et al. demonstrated the protective effect of CoQ10 in paclitaxel-induced peripheral neuropathy. Paclitaxel treatment increased pain sensitivity while administration of CoQ10 with paclitaxel prevented such rise in pain sensations and improved pain bearing threshold.

Quick Gist: CoQ10’s neuroprotective effect protects from chemotherapy-induced neurotoxicity and prevents neuropathic pain. These findings need to be confirmed in human studies.

3.It protects from alcoholic neuropathy

Oxidative stress is one of the toxic effects of excess or chronic alcohol consumption. Chronic alcohol consumption depletes CoQ10 levels in the liver cells and triggers inflammation in the liver. This contributes to alcohol-induced liver steatosis.

Mitochondria are energy-producing units of the cell. Chronic alcohol consumption may trigger mitochondrial dysfunction and cause damage to other organs in the body. It even disturbs mitochondrial function in the brain and causes alcohol-induced neurological disorders like neuropathy.

CoQ10 supplementation may help in reducing oxidative damage in alcoholism and also protect nerve health.

Khandhare et al. demonstrated that CoQ10 relieves neuropathic pain and improves nerve function in alcoholic neuropathy. The researchers identified that there were multiple mechanisms behind this protective action of CoQ10 such as reduction of oxidative damage and pro-inflammatory agents and neuroprotective action.

Combination therapy with CoQ10 and Vitamin E resulted in better protective action against neurotoxicity caused by alcohol than CoQ10 alone.

Quick Gist: Coenzyme Q10 can strengthen antioxidant defences to combat adverse effects of alcoholism. Findings of the pre-clinical study reveal that combination of Coenzyme Q10  and vitamin E can protect from alcohol-induced neuropathy.

4.Coenzyme Q10 can help in drug-induced neuropathy

Drug-induced neuropathy accounts for 2-4% of the patient population with peripheral neuropathy; chemotherapy-associated neuropathy is a part of this group.

HIV patients who are on anti-retroviral therapy present with symptomatic neuropathy. Patients treated with stavudine (an anti-HIV medicine) are likely to develop severe neuropathy.

Amiodarone is an anti-arrhythmic medication which is known to cause demyelinating neuropathy. Statins are medicines prescribed for high cholesterol levels and heart diseases; these are known to cause muscle weakness and neuropathy.

Water soluble formulation of Coenzyme Q10 is proven to prevent neurotoxicity (in vivo) caused by the HIV treatment most associated with neuropathy (Current HIV Research, 2010).

Langsjoen and his colleagues conducted a study wherein they treated patients with heart diseases and on statin therapy with supplemental CoQ10.

The patients were on statin therapy for 28 months and were experiencing side effects such as fatigue, memory loss, dyspnea, myalgia and peripheral neuropathy. They were asked to discontinue statin therapy and were treated with 240mg CoQ10 per day initially.

The patients were followed up for more than 12 months. The prevalence of symptoms dropped significantly with therapy: fatigue reduced from 84% to 16%, memory loss reduced from 8% to 4% and peripheral neuropathy from 10% to 2%.

No adverse events were observed with statin discontinuation. These positive findings of CoQ10’s protective action on drug-induced neuropathy need to be corroborated with further human studies.

Quick Gist: HIV medications and statin drugs for long-term cause neurotoxicity and peripheral neuropathy. CoQ10 supplementation can protect from such neurotoxicity and prevent drug-induced peripheral neuropathy.

5.It may help reduce nerve pain

Neuropathic pain or ‘burning pain’ is the most debilitating symptom of peripheral neuropathy. Chronic neuropathic pain can cause sleep disturbances and impairs quality of life.

Pre-clinical studies have proven that CoQ10 reduces neuropathic pain. Zhang et al. demonstrated that CoQ10 reduces oxidative stress and inflammatory agents to relieve diabetic neuropathic pain.

It can help in the prevention of diabetic neuropathy or neuropathic pain and is safe for long-term use.

Combination of Coenzyme Q10 and low-level laser therapy may have better therapeutic outcomes in neuropathic pain than either therapy alone.

Levetiracetam is an anticonvulsant that also has pain relieving property and is prescribed for treating painful diabetic neuropathy.

It has a synergistic action with Coenzyme Q10, and this combination also helps treat causes of diabetic neuropathy.   The combination with Coenzyme Q10 helps reduce the effective dose of both agents by 30 folds.

Quick Gist: Coenzyme Q10 alleviates neuropathic pain by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation. Researchers suggest that early treatment with CoQ10 can help in the prevention of neuropathic pain, but this needs to be validated by human studies.

6.CoQ10 is a neuroprotective agent

Preliminary clinical trials show that CoQ10 is a promising neuroprotective agent and can help with brain disorders.

Mitochondrial Complex I is a respiratory complex and changes in this complex may contribute to the development of neurological diseases. Coenzyme Q10 is involved in the activity of this complex.

CoQ10 supplement works as an antioxidant and prevents disturbances in the activity of this mitochondrial complex. This activity of CoQ10 contributes to its neuroprotective activity and prevents neurodegeneration or death of neurons.

Matthews and his colleagues demonstrated that Coenzyme Q10 increases brain mitochondrial concentrations to protect brain health.

Though not studied in peripheral neuropathy, CoQ10 holds nerve-regenerating potential. When administered at early stages of inflammation, it can improve nerve regeneration and support re-myelination of nerve fibres.

Quick Gist: Coenzyme Q10 protects the brain and nervous system as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. It can help in nerve regeneration and restore nerve function in case of damage.

Dosage of Coenzyme Q10 For Peripheral Neuropathy

There are very few studies in humans that have investigated the effect of CoQ10 in peripheral neuropathy. These have utilised a dose of 200mg-400mg/ day CoQ10 for 12-16 weeks.

It is fat soluble, and thus you should take it after a meal for better absorption. CoQ10 has a half-life of 36 hours.

Start with small doses and increase gradually. High doses (200mg or more) may not suit some individuals. It is advisable to work with a health practitioner to identify a dose that suits you.

Coenzyme Q10 is available in two forms: ubiquinone or the oxidised form and ubiquinol or the reduced form. The body rapidly converts ubiquinone to ubiquinol in the intestine.

However, there is quite a bit of debate on the absorption concerns of ubiquinone and ubiquinol. I have addressed this concern in detail in my post on the benefits of CoQ10 for ME/CFS but here is a quick summary of it:

  • Ubiquinone and ubiquinol are rapidly interchanged into either form in the body.
  • One study has reported that ubiquinol is more effective than ubiquinone in increasing CoQ10 levels in humans but other studies have found both forms equally effective.
  • Research till date has utilised ubiquinone form of CoQ10.
  • Studies on peripheral neuropathy in humans have utilised ubiquinone form.
  • The absorption of ubiquinone can be absorbed by consuming it with dietary fat or by using oil-based ubiquinone supplements.

Bio-Quinone is the oil-based formulation of ubiquinone that has been used in famous studies such as Ki-Sel10 study, Gulf War Illness and Q-Symbio study. Check out these resources to eliminate the confusion and queries regarding ubiquinone or ubiquinol.

Please consult a health practitioner before taking CoQ10 supplements.

Precautions with Coenzyme Q10 Use

CoQ10 does not cause any significant side effects within recommended doses. Very mild gastric side effects have been reported with CoQ10 supplementation.

High dose CoQ10 (200mg or more) may not suit some individuals; please consult a health practitioner about the dose.

Safety of CoQ10 is not ascertained in pregnancy and lactation. It is recommended to take CoQ10 if taking stain therapy but please consult a doctor about the same.

Some reports suggest that CoQ10 may interact with warfarin, but there is no conclusive evidence about the same. Please take with caution if you are taking antiplatelet medications or have a bleeding disorder.

UMM has listed interactions of CoQ10 with the following medications: daunorubicin, doxorubicin, blood pressure medications, timolol, blood-thinning medicines, antidepressants and cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Please consult a doctor before taking CoQ10 supplements.

Conclusion

Coenzyme Q10 serves as an antioxidant and protects nerve health from oxidative stress. It can help mitigate causes of peripheral neuropathy in addition to providing symptomatic relief.

In diabetic neuropathy, Coenzyme Q10 improves insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control. This lowers oxidative stress and relieves nerve dysfunction.

Three human studies have examined Coenzyme Q10’s action in diabetic neuropathy, and only one study has confirmed positive effects. Studies till date has used ubiquinone, the oxidised form of CoQ10.

The antioxidant also protects from neurotoxicity and can relieve neuropathic pain. These potential benefits need to be further evaluated in human studies that examine its effect in nondiabetic peripheral neuropathy.

Have any queries in mind about CoQ10 and peripheral neuropathy? Do leave your comments below. If you found the article informative, please do share it on social media.

Learn about the efficacy and safety of Coenzyme Q10 for peripheral neuropathy.

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