Harvard Men's Health Watch

CoQ10 for muscle aches

Q. I am taking simvastatin for high cholesterol. Should I take coenzyme Q10 to prevent muscle pain?

A. There is no convincing medical evidence to suggest that coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) prevents muscle pain in people taking statins. But because the risk of side effects from CoQ10 is low, many doctors would recommend a one-to-two month trial of the supplement (doses range from 100 to 200 mg daily) to help with statin-related muscle cramps, pain, or weakness. Make sure your doctor knows you are taking it.

The connection between CoQ10 and statin-related muscle symptoms is circumstantial. Taking a statin to lower "bad" LDL cholesterol also lowers CoQ10, a naturally occurring chemical in the body involved in energy production in cells. Muscle aches are a common side effect of statins, and CoQ10 is important for muscle function, so scientists have wondered if raising blood levels of CoQ10 might relieve the aches. However, there is no solid evidence that the supplement does so. If you decide to try it, look for the United States Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) mark on the supplement packaging, indicating that the product meets basic standards for quality and purity.

As for other health claims for CoQ10 you may have heard, taking the supplement does not make much sense. It is expensive (about $30 a month) and has not been shown to boost your energy, cure any health conditions, or help you live longer.

— William Kormos, M.D.
Editor in Chief, Harvard Men's Health Watch