Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 for migraine

Coenzyme Q10 is found inside the body’s cells. It is key to the  functioning of the mitochondria, the powerhouse inside cells that produces the energy the cell needs. Coenzyme Q10, also called CoQ10, also has antioxidant properties and can reduce damage to cells caused by the environment and other factors.

Coenzyme Q10 is available as a nutritional supplement and is considered a natural remedy or nutraceutical. Some studies have shown evidence that CoQ10 supplements may help prevent migraines. Because of the scientific evidence available, the American Academy of Neurology  includes coenzyme Q10 in its guidelines for the prevention of migraines.1

Sources of Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 is produced naturally by the body. It is also found in several food sources, including:

  • Soybean oil
  • Canola oil
  • Chicken
  • Herring
  • Mackerel
  • Rainbow trout
  • Beef
  • Roasted peanuts, sesame seeds, pistachio nuts
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Orange
  • Strawberries
  • Boiled egg2

Coenzyme Q10 is also available as a dietary supplement and is available for purchase without a prescription. Because coenzyme Q10 is fat-soluble, it is best absorbed when taken with a meal.2

Studies on coenzyme Q10 and migraines

Two small studies have provided evidence that coenzyme Q10 may help prevent migraine.

The first study found that among 31 patients who took 150mg of CoQ10 daily for three months, 61% of them reported at least a 50% reduction in the the number of days they had migraine attacks. Also, no side effects were noticed among participants.3

Another small study of 42 migraine sufferers compared coenzyme Q10 (taken 100mg three times daily) to an inactive placebo. In that study, the supplement was three times more likely than placebo to reduce the number of migraine attacks. Some side effects, including stomach upset and skin rash were noted.3


Coenzyme Q10 may be especially helpful in children and young adults with migraines. A study of 1,550 patients ages 3 to 22 with migraine measured their coenzyme Q10 levels. Of those migraine sufferers, 33 percent had low levels of CoQ10. Those with low levels received coenzyme Q10 supplements and had fewer migraine attacks and less disability due to migraine.3

Side effects and other precautions

While there have been no reports of serious side effects, coenzyme Q10 may cause unpleasant side effects, including:

Side effects from coenzyme Q10 may be lessened if the dose is split up throughout the day and taken with meals. If you notice any of these side effects continue or get worse, you should contact your doctor immediately.

Who should not take coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 may interact with other medications or supplements. You should consult your doctor before taking Coenzyme Q10 if you take any of the following: daunorubicin, doxorubicin, timolol, blood pressure medicines, blood thinners, cholesterol medicines and tricyclic antidepressants. Tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, and supplements you are taking, as some may interact badly and may cause serious side effects.

Before taking CoQ10, speak to your doctor if you have allergies, heart disease, hypoglycemia, diabetes, bleeding disorders, low blood pressure, liver disease or if you take any drugs or supplements that impact blood sugar. Blood sugar levels may need to be monitored because CoQ10 may lower blood sugar.

Women who are pregnant, may become pregnant or who are breastfeeding should not take coenzyme Q10.

People taking CoQ10 supplements are advised not to engage in vigorous exercise.

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As always, the best source for advice on treating your migraines is your own migraine specialist. These descriptions of natural remedies are provided only for informational purposes. You should begin no medication or supplement without first checking with your physician.

Written by: Otesa Miles and Emily Downward | Last review date: May 2018
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