Curtis’s Notes: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a difficult to diagnose and treat with current drugs. CoQ10 (Coenzyme Q10) is a naturally occurring substance in your body but in CFS patients appears to be very low. Supplementing with CoQ10 has helped anywhere from 10% to nearly 50% of patients in studies. It is generally well tolerated but can have drug interactions. The recommended dose is 100mg to 300mg daily.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) or – as it’s also called Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease (SEID) – is not only hard to treat – but to diagnose as well.
A big part of that is due to the fact that we don’t really know what causes it. So doctors and patients have to rely on more subjective tests like:
- Muscle pain
- Exhaustion that last more than 24 hours from physical or mental exercise
- Loss of concentration or memory
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Poor sleep
Sidenote: there is a new test which hopes to measure and diagnose CFS based off Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs). These are genetic variants that researchers believe can predispose someone to CFS. Unfortunately, this test is not commercially available at the time of this article.
Why CoQ10 May Help CFS
As the name implies – a hallmark of CFS is fatigue and extreme lack of energy.
For your body to have energy it needs ATP. ATP is produced in the mitochondria of your cells. But for those mitochondria to produce ATP they also need certain raw materials like Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10).
If someone is healthy they can make CoQ10 on their own. But, if there are certain toxins in the environment or if there is some type of chronic disease it can lead to a deficiency in CoQ10 in your body.
Still other patients are believed to simply not be able to make CoQ10 at high enough levels even if there aren’t toxins and they have all the raw materials available in their body.
Research Supports Link Between CFS and CoQ10
In this 2009 study researchers showed that there may be a link between the CoQ10 levels in your body and CFS.
Nearly 45% of the patients in the study with CFS had CoQ10 blood levels that were under even the lowest levels measured in healthy patients. Furthermore, the lower the CoQ10 levels went the higher the FibroFatigue (FF) score went. The FF score essentially measures the level of fatigue patients are suffering from. Finally, patients with extremely low CoQ10 blood levels (under 390mcg/L) had more concentration and memory disturbances.
A 2013 study looked at supplementing with CoQ10 (dose = 300mg/day) in CFS for forty days. The treatment group showed an improvement in fatigue scores, pain levels, fatigue and morning tiredness.
A more recent study looked at the benefits of using CoQ10 (dose = 200mg/day) with NADH (dose = 20mg/day) to treat CFS. They found that this combination not only improved the level of fatigue but also improved blood markers that are usually found in CFS patients. The only downside is that because the patients were treated with a combination therapy – we don’t know if CoQ10 alone would still provide the same benefits.
Minimal Side Effects
While it’s not mentioned in the studies – one of the reasons that I feel comfortable recommending CoQ10 is because it’s relatively safe.
Like I mentioned above CoQ10 is something that is natural to your body and, in the doses used in the studies, should be safe to take.
Also, numerous studies have shown that supplementing with CoQ10 – even at relatively high levels doesn’t appear to have a lot of side effects.
The one thing I would be careful about is if you are taking any other medications as CoQ10 can have some interactions with prescription medications and even other supplements.
In most of the studies they used anywhere from 200mg to 300mg of CoQ10.
Although other sources recommend starting with a smaller dose – say 100mg daily and see how you tolerate it.
Based on the evidence we have right now here are the major takeaways for supplementing with CoQ10 to treat CFS:
- Studies have shown improvement in physical symptoms (fatigue and pain) and blood markers in anywhere from 10% to nearly 50% of patients.
- CoQ10 may cause some stomach upset but is generally well tolerated
- You should always discuss any sort of supplementation with your doctor first. But this is especially true with CoQ10 if you are diabetic
- Also consider that CoQ10 can have interactions with some prescription drugs and supplements
- CoQ10 is available in inexpensive supplement form. Recommended doses range from 100mg to 300mg daily.