by Malini Ghoshal, RPh, MS
Medically Reviewed by:
Nancy Hammond, M.D.
by Malini Ghoshal, RPh, MS
Medically Reviewed by:
Nancy Hammond, M.D.
If you’ve ever had a migraine attack, you know it’s more than an awful headache. A migraine attack can derail your daily routine, causing intense pulsing pain, nausea, and even light and sound sensitivity.
There are several phases to a migraine attack, and it may last from hours to days. Migraine attacks can happen with or without an aura.
While there are several medications available to both prevent migraine episodes and treat them, these medications have side effects.
If you’re wondering about natural alternatives to help with your symptoms, Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) might be a good option to ask your doctor about.
Let’s look at how CoQ10 may help prevent some migraine symptoms, potential side effects, and more.
Yes, there is some evidence that CoQ10 may help with migraine.
However, research on the effectiveness of CoQ10 for migraine, and the best dosage for you, is limited by the fact that many studies have included smaller numbers of participants.
Here are the main ways CoQ10 may help prevent migraine attacks.
Although the exact cause of migraine isn’t known, there’s some scientific evidence that defects in energy-producing structures inside your cells, called mitochondria, may play a role.
Mitochondria produce up to 90 percent of the energy your cells use. They also help protect your cells from oxidative damage.
Nerve and muscle tissue contain high levels of mitochondria. Defective mitochondria can increase cell damage from excessive free radicals.
A 2021 review study of 371 adults aged 18 to 50 also found that, compared to a placebo, taking a CoQ10 supplement reduced the number of attacks per month, including the frequency and duration.
Different dosages were used in the studies, from a low of 30 mg per day to a high of 800 mg per day.
The effectiveness of CoQ10 supplements may also depend on the type of CoQ10 you take. CoQ10 is not well absorbed by your gastrointestinal tract.
There are two forms of CoQ10 in supplements: ubiquinol and ubiquinone. Some studies found that the ubiquinol form is more easily absorbed than the ubiquinone form.
CoQ10 is an essential compound made by your body and stored in the mitochondria of your cells.
CoQ10 helps convert nutrients, such as fatty acids and carbohydrates, into energy-producing adenosine triphosphate, which helps fuel energy transfer within cells.
Scientists have found people who experience migraine attacks have lowered levels of some nutrients, like CoQ10, riboflavin, and magnesium. These deficiencies may contribute to migraine.
While most people get enough CoQ10 through their diet by eating things like meats, fish, poultry, and nuts, levels lessen with age.
There isn’t an established dose of CoQ10 for use with migraine or any other condition.
It’s not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in migraine prevention or treatment, and it’s sold only as a dietary supplement.
One small, older 2005 study found 100 mg of CoQ10 taken 3 times per day lessened the frequency of migraine attacks by about 48 percent.
Another small 2019 study on adult women with episodic migraine found doses of 400 mg per day for 3 months led to reduced severity, frequency, and duration of migraine attacks.
Yet another 2016 study found 100 mg of CoQ10 per day in addition to migraine prevention medication lowered the number and severity of attacks per month.
Doses can depend on:
Ask your doctor for information on the best dose for you.
Keep in mind: Dietary supplements, like CoQ10, take time to work. You may need to take the supplement for 3 months before seeing any improvement in your migraine symptoms.
Taking too much CoQ10 increases your risk of side effects, like nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.
CoQ10 is a fat-soluble vitamin. It takes time for cells to absorb the nutrient. It’s absorbed through the small intestine. Taking it with food may increase absorption by up to three times.
Data from studies of CoQ10 for other conditions indicates participants tolerated doses up to 1200 mg with only mild side effects.
Ask your doctor about the best dose for migraine and take the lowest dose that provides benefits.
CoQ10 is generally thought to be safe with few side effects, but some people may experience mild side effects.
Commonly reported side effects include:
Rare side effects include:
There’s limited research on CoQ10 supplement interactions with medications.
Always talk with your doctor about the safety of over-the-counter products before taking them to avoid interactions and adverse reactions.
A few possible medications that could interact with CoQ10 are:
If you have certain conditions, talk with your doctor about the safety of CoQ10.
These conditions include:
There are a few supplements that have limited evidence of benefitting migraine prevention or treating migraine episodes.
Before trying any over-the-counter supplements, be sure to discuss their risks and benefits with your doctor.
A 2017 review study found that magnesium supplements may help reduce migraine episodes or prevent migraine compared to placebo. However, most of the studies were small. Ask your doctor about safe doses for migraine.
Riboflavin (B2) provides energy for your cells by converting nutrients, like carbohydrates, into energy. A 2015 review study found riboflavin supplements can reduce the duration and frequency of migraine for some people.
Reducing triggers, such as certain scents, food, and stress, can help with migraine prevention.
A few natural and herbal remedies have also shown benefits for migraine.
There are also many medications available to treat and prevent migraine symptoms. Your doctor can tell you more about the best choice(s) for you.
There are several stages for a classic migraine, including prodrome, aura, attack, and post-drome recovery. These stages may last anywhere from a few hours to several days.
You might experience a range of symptoms, including:
Research indicates CoQ10 may have some benefits in migraine prevention. But most studies on CoQ10’s effectiveness for migraine had a small sample of participants.
More studies are needed with larger, diverse groups of people who experience different types of migraine. This will help professionals better understand who would benefit from CoQ10 supplementation.
There’s some evidence CoQ10 may reduce frequency and duration of migraine. In most cases, CoQ10 has mild side effects.
CoQ10 is not well absorbed, and the optimal dose is unclear. So be sure to talk with your doctor before using the supplement.
They can tell you more about the type and dose to start with, and they can monitor you to see if CoQ10 is helping your migraine symptoms.
Medically reviewed on May 03, 2021
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About the author
Malini Ghoshal, RPh, MS
Malini Ghoshal RPh, MS is a published author and medical writer. She has a background in pharmacy with a Masters in pharmaceutical policy and regulations. Malini writes for major health media organizations including Healthline, Psycom Pro, Optum Perks, Medical News Today, Practical Pain Management, Endocrine Pro and more. Malini is a passionate health advocate and regularly writes about the impact of health disparities on health outcomes. Find out more about her and her work on her website and LinkedIn.