Coenzyme Q10 and Parkinson’s Disease -What’s the Link?

Coenzyme Q10 for Parkinson's

Coenzyme Q10 is one of the most widely studied supplements today. People with Parkinson’s disease are reported to have a reduced level of Coenzyme Q10. Therefore, many researchers suggest that its consumption may have a therapeutic effect against Parkinson’s disease.

What is Coenzyme Q10?

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an organic compound that is distributed throughout the body. Its highest amount can be found in the cells of heart, brain, liver, and kidney. Inside the cell, it resides within the mitochondria.

Mitochondria are the important organelles of the cells that produce energy. It is because of this function, they are normally called the powerhouses of the cells.

CoQ10 strongly support mitochondria for their function. It is an integral part of energy producing machinery within the mitochondria where it facilitates the production of ATP, commonly known as the energy currency of the cell (1).

CoQ10 and Parkinson’s disease – is there a link?

Parkinson’s disease results from the death of brain cells that produce dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for controlling the movement. Mitochondrial dysfunction is believed to be the root cause of the death of dopamine-producing cells.

Since CoQ10 is the integral component of mitochondria, researchers think that its deficiency can increase the risk of dopamine-producing cell death in the brain and can lead to Parkinson’s disease development (2).

Indeed, research studies showed a reduced level of CoQ10 in people with Parkinson’s disease (3, 4). One study found a 35% lower level of CoQ10 in the blood mitochondria from Parkinson’s disease patients than in mitochondria from control subjects (5).

CoQ10 also acts as an antioxidant, meaning that it has the ability to protect the cell from the damage of oxidative stress, which is strongly associated with Parkinson’s disease (6).

Oxidative stress occurs when cell produced free radicals at abnormally higher levels. These radicals caused damage to various components of cells like DNA, protein, and lipids.

CoQ10 has the ability to offset the effects caused by free radicals. It scavenges the free radicals and restores normal functions of the cell. By doing so, it may protect the brain from developing Parkinson’s disease.

Can CoQ10 be used for Parkinson’s disease, what does the research say?

Because people with Parkison’s disease have reduced levels of CoQ10, researchers have been interested in finding out whether its dietary supplementation could help to treat the symptoms of Parkinson ’s disease.

Laboratory research on animals has shown that CoQ10 may protect the brain against Parkinson’s disease. In a series of experiments, when mice were treated with MPTP (1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine), a chemical that damage the brain similar to Parkinson’s disease, the brain showed a loss in the dopamine-producing cells. However, when the mice were given CoQ10 before exposing to MPTP, the majority of the brain cells were survived (7,  8).

When it comes to studies in human, the results are inconsistent. Some clinical trials have shown CoQ10 as a promising therapeutic agent against Parkinson’s disease, others showed no effects.

For example, a study published in the journal Archives of Neurology has reported that consumption of CoQ10 can slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease. In this study, CoQ10 intake of up to 1200 g per day was found to improve the basic motor skills and the overall well-being of patients (9).

But most of the recently published data do not show a similar beneficial effect of CoQ10. In fact, one long-term study of CoQ10 effects in Parkinson’s patients was terminated early because the researchers did not find improvement in patients condition (10).

Similarly, one meta-analysis that included eight studies with a total of 899 patients reported that CoQ10 consumption has no beneficial effect on motor symptoms. The study concluded that CoQ10 should not be considered as the routine treatment of Parkinson’s disease right now (11).

Adverse effects associated with the use of CoQ10

Coq10 is well tolerated and doesn’t seem to be linked with any severe side effects in patients. One study has specifically investigated the safety and tolerability of CoQ10 in 17 patients with Parkinson’s disease. The study suggested that a dose of 2400 mg/day is an appropriate highest dosage to be used (12).

Another study reported that 200 mg of Coq10 consumption up to four times a day is well tolerated and is not associated with any adverse effects (13).

Disclaimer: The information shared here should not be taken as medical advice. The opinions presented here are not intended to treat any health conditions. For your specific medical problem, consult with your health care provider.

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