Dear Dr Mitchell,
I am 37 years old. On the advice of a girl at the herbal store, I'm trying CoQ10 supplements to try to improve my fertility since my husband and I are trying to have a child. Are there any risks to doing that? I tried DHEA a while back but was not successful. My next step is IVF, but I wanted to try supplementation first.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a nutrient that occurs naturally in the body. It is also found in many foods that we eat daily. CoQ10 acts as an antioxidant which protects cells from damage and plays a very important role in the metabolism of cells. Most healthy people have enough CoQ10 naturally. Adding more in the form of supplements may be beneficial.
As you get older and in some medical conditions the levels tend to fall. It is not quite clear that adding more CoQ10 by taking more supplements will have any significant beneficial effect.
CoQ10 is used to treat many different conditions. It may successfully help to lower blood pressure slightly, treat heart failure, and other heart conditions. It might probably help to improve some symptoms and decrease cardiac risk when used with regular medication, but the evidence in support of this is conflicting. CoQ10 may also slow down the onset but not the progression of Alzheimer's disease. There have been studies done on the usefulness in treatment of migraine headaches.
It has been studied for use in the management of men with low sperm count, although research has not found any conclusive benefits. It is sometimes sold as an energy supplement but there is no evidence to confirm its effects in a typical person. The typical dose daily is 100-200 milligrammes.
Good sources of CoQ10 include tuna, salmon, mackerel, sardines, vegetable oils and meats. Side effects include diarrhoea, nausea and heartburn. People with heart failure, kidney or liver problems and diabetes mellitus should be cautious of the use of CoQ10. It may lower blood sugar and blood pressure and may affect liver enzyme levels. People taking blood thinners and thyroid medication should consult with their doctors before taking CoQ10 supplements.
If you are scheduled for IVF then you should probably proceed with the plan since there is no conclusive evidence that CoQ10 will help you to become pregnant.
Consult your doctor who will advise you further.
Dr Sharmaine Mitchell is an obste trician and gynaecologist. Send questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org ; write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Ave, Kingston 5; or fax to 968-2025. All responses are published. Dr Mitchell cannot provide personal responses.
The contents of this article are for informational purposes only, and must not be relied upon as an alternative to medical advice or treatment from your own doctor.