Ask Well: CoQ10 Drug Interactions? | Heart and Vascular Health |

Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10 as it is often called, is commonly taken in supplement form to counteract the muscle pain and weakness associated with cholesterol-lowering statin drugs. 

Statins do appear to lower levels of CoQ10, a substance that is naturally produced in almost every cell in the body, where it helps convert food to energy and acts as an antioxidant. Organs that have particularly great energy demands, like the heart and the brain, contain the highest concentrations of it, said Dr. Robert Bonakdar of the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine in California.

There is no doubt that coenzyme Q10 has several important roles in the body. But those who take it should do so carefully, because in some cases it can blunt or amplify the effects of other drugs, particularly those that are used to control blood sugar and blood pressure.

In roughly half of people who take it, CoQ10 has a relaxing effect on blood vessels that can lower blood pressure levels, said Dr. Roxanne Sukol, a preventive medicine specialist at the Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute. But it takes about eight weeks for this effect to kick in, she said, and those who are already on blood pressure medications and choose to take CoQ10 should do so under the guidance of a doctor.

Taking CoQ10 can lower blood sugar levels as well, which can be problematic for people with diabetes and anyone using medication to control hyperglycemia.

It can also interact with blood thinners, so people who use drugs like aspirin or warfarin should be particularly cautious, Dr. Sukol said.