Selected Podcast

Ask Dr. Mike: I Take CoQ10 BUT My Energy Is Still Low, What's Going On?

Here you'll find the answers to a wealth of health and wellness questions posed by Healthy Talk fans. Listen in because what you know helps ensure healthy choices you can live with. Today on Healthy Talk, you wanted to know:

I take CoQ10 for energy, but it doesn't seem to work anymore. What's going on?

When you first start taking CoQ10 (and if you've never taken it before), and you're in your 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, your CoQ10 levels are probably low.

It happens as you age, and there's no need to worry. But, when you first start taking it, you may notice a HUGE change and feel energized. As you continue to take it on a regular basis, your body will adapt to it and you may become immune to it.

This doesn't mean it's not working. In fact, it's actually working and improving your cells.

But, if you're feeling like your energy levels are back to where they were before you started taking the CoQ10, you may need to up your dosage a little bit.

For example, try adding PQQ, deep ribose, or ginseng with your CoQ10 dosage.

If you have a health question or concern, Dr. Mike encourages you to write him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call in, toll-free, to the LIVE radio show (1.844.305.7800) so he can provide you with support and helpful advice.

RadioMD Presents:Healthy Talk | Original Air Date: March 27, 2015
Host: Michael Smith, MD

You're listening to RadioMD. It's time to ask Dr. Mike on Healthy Talk. Call or email to ask your questions now. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 877-711-5211. The lines are open.

DR. MIKE: Alright. That's This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. I need more questions, listeners. When we first started this, I received a bunch so I still have quite a few to go and I received some just last night, but I could use some more. Challenge me, put me on the spot! Well, don't do that. Be nice. Only ask me questions I know the answers to. Just kidding! That makes my job easier.

Alright, this first question is actually two questions. It comes from Amy. I'm going to handle them separately, but they're related. The first question is:

"I take CoQ10 for energy but it doesn't seem to work as well anymore. What's going on?"

Let's handle that question first, Amy. That's not uncommon for CoQ10 and let me explain why. When you first start taking CoQ10 and, to review, CoQ10 is an energy co-factor. It's used by the mitochondria to make ATP. If you've never taken CoQ10 before and you're in your 30's 40's or 50's, something like that, most likely your CoQ10 levels are low. And we can measure them, by the way. There's a blood test for CoQ10 but I don't think I need to test it, Amy, because at the beginning when your energy levels were low--and I'm assuming you're in your 30's 40's.

I don't know why I'm assuming that, but I'm assuming you're in your 30's 40's, 50's, I could just guess your CoQ10 levels are low. So, when you first start taking CoQ10, yes, you feel energized. You get this immediate effect and you feel good often after the first dose. But once you reach what we call in medicine a "steady state" where that dose that you're taking on a daily basis doesn't really increase your blood level anymore, but it maintains it, that's called a steady state. You may not feel as energized anymore outwardly, but it's still good for your cells. So, this is common. I don't think you have to do anything. I don't think you have to change a thing.

Now the caveat to that is, Amy, unless you're feeling low energy again. If everything is fine, but you're just not feeling energized from it, leave it alone. Your cells are feeling energized and that's what you want. But if your energy levels are starting to drop back down to where they were when you started taking CoQ10, now that's a different story and we might have to think about increasing the dose of the CoQ10.

Make sure you're doing ubiquinol CoQ10, which is better. There's even a combination of ubiquinol CoQ10 with this type of herb--this vitality type of herb. It's not really an herb. It's more of like peat moss. It's called shilajit. That helps to deliver more of that ubiquinol from the supplement to the mitochondria. So that's something you can do. Or even the combination of CoQ10 with PQQ. I've talked about that before-- pyrroloquinoline quinone. Here's something to consider for all my listeners. This is actually really important.

I'm surprised I haven't talked about this before. As we get older, we lose the mitochondria. Those are the powerhouses of the cell. When you're young, your muscles, your brain, everything, your cells are just loaded with these powerhouses-- these mitochondria. They're producing ATP like crazy. It's awesome but as you get older, each decade of life, you lose a certain amount of that mitochondrial biomass.

The number of mitochondria decrease in each cell with age to the point that you're in your 60's, 70's, 80's and you've lost a lot, maybe even half. And so at some point, I have to consider this if I'm giving you these nutrients like CoQ10 that are meant to enhance the production of energy from the mitochondria but you don't have anymore mitochondria left or very little left. I may start losing my effect with that nutrient like CoQ10. So, what's really important maybe is to make more mitochondria and that's what PQQ does. So, I can give you PQQ to make sure you make more mitochondria and now I give you things like CoQ10 and carnitine, ribose with the shilajit I just mentioned.

I can give you more of that and you're going to get a better effect because you have more mitochondria to work with. So, I think PQQ is really important. I like the combination of CoQ10 and PQQ. However, Amy, back to my original point, though, if your energy is fine and you're just not feeling energized after you take a dose of CoQ10, leave it alone. Your cells are loving it. Now, Amy goes on. Now that I really look at this second part of her question--remember Amy had two questions here--and now that I read this second part more closely, Amy is having some energy issues. Her energy is dropping again.

She says, "I need more "even" energy and mental focus while I'm at work."

Okay. So, Amy, your energy levels are dropping from what I understand. So, you had low energy, you took CoQ10, you felt better. You reached that steady state but your energy levels dropped again. So, maybe add the shilajit to the CoQ10. Maybe add the PQQ.

You can even do something like D ribose which is an important energizer. D ribose comes in a powder. It's sweet tasting but it's not going to affect insulin levels or sugar levels or anything like that, so it's fine to take but you can sweeten up your coffee with it and stuff. Or drink a protein shake. Whatever it is, it's a good energizer. But this idea of more even energy is interesting because I think you're hitting on to something. You know, we have a lot of energy things at our disposal, specifically caffeine and sugar, in a lot of our energy drinks. You know which ones I'm talking about.

They're out there. Do a quick little shot, you get energy. They're still mostly caffeine. And there is a crash. There is. Let's just admit it. There is a crash with those things. So, when I hear people like Amy mention wanting more "even" energy, to me that means energize without crash, that kind of thing.

Well, there are two things you might consider, Amy. One is the cordyceps. Cordyceps are these weird, weird nutrients. It's this fungus and parasite relationship. It's a fungus parasite that, I think, latches onto a worm. I know it sounds weird but when this parasite, this fungus, attaches to the worm it takes over the worm, the worm dies, and the fungus starts to grow on the worm.

If you cultivate some compounds out of that fungus at that point it's called a cordycep. Those compounds have been shown to significantly increase ATP production without crash giving you that even energy. There was a study I have it right here. This was from the Journal of Alternative Complimentary Medicine in 2010. So, in one study healthy adults 50-75 took 333 mg of cordyceps 3 times daily for 12 weeks. These study subjects were able to perform a stationary bicycle exercise at a maximum level for over 10% longer before muscle fatigue could be scientifically detected. So, you're talking about significant improvements with ATP production. This study went onto say that at the same time this energy was lasting in the subjects, it lasted even after the exercise. They still had energy.

They felt good. So, cordyceps might be something for you to look into and when you combine cordyceps with ginseng, we think of ginseng more as stress or mental stuff, but ginseng also plays a role in maintaining ATP production. The thing that you want to look for is a ginseng that has been fermented. It needs to be fermented ginseng. A lot of your stand alone ginsengs for your brain and stress, they're not fermented and they're good for maybe stress and stuff but fermented ginseng. You need to look on the back label and make sure. And if it does say that, that's good for ATP production. The combination of fermented ginseng with the cordyceps is pretty significant. Even, significant level of ATP production. People feel energized; they feel good and their cells are loving it.

So, Amy, consider cordyceps and ginseng because you're looking for that even energy. Cordyceps and ginseng. So, there's nothing wrong with your CoQ10. You know, some people reach a steady state. Losing that energized feeling is normal. But if your energy levels are dropping, I'm not just speaking to Amy now, I'm speaking to everybody, if your energy levels are continuing to drop even on CoQ10, think about making more mitochondria with PPQ; some other energizers like D Ribose and carnitine. And then for that even energy throughout the day without needing caffeine, cordyceps and fermented ginseng. There you go!

This is Healthy Talk on RadioMD. This is Dr. Mike, stay well.