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Is chronic fatigue syndrome caused by a Q10 deficiency?

Is chronic fatigue syndrome caused by a Q10 deficiency?Perhaps so. More and more studies reveal that it helps to take large quantities of Q10 and a vitamin B3 derivate. Q10 and vitamin B3 are both essential for the body’s energy turnover, which takes place inside the mitochondria of the cells. A more recent study shows that taking supplements of the mentioned nutrients can also have a positive effect on the heart, which is the body’s central motor.

The characteristic feature of chronic fatigue syndrome is feeling extremely tired for more than six months, where the fatigue gets in the way of daily living. The tiredness does not disappear after sleeping or resting or by using stimulants such as coffee. The condition can be extremely debilitating – physically and mentally. The diagnosis can be established, once the doctor has ruled out any other underlying conditions, and the word “syndrome” means that the ailment involves a number of different symptoms.
Chronic fatigue syndrome is rather common and is a widely disputed disease. It has many causes, and experts distinguish between underlying, triggering, and perpetuating factors.

Internationally known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), the condition has recently been given another name: Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease (SEID). This is also called myalgic encephalopathy (ME) and post-viral fatigue syndrome.

Flaws in the cellular powerhouses

All cells contain some tiny, bean-shaped powerhouses called mitochondria. It is inside these that fat, carbohydrate, and protein are converted into energy with help from oxygen and a number of different nutrients. Coenzyme Q10 plays a key role in this process. Because the brain, heart, muscles, liver, and kidneys require great quantities of energy, cells in these tissues are packed with mitochondria.
Sarah Myhill, a researcher from Oxford University, has demonstrated that chronic fatigue syndrome is caused by dysfunctional mitochondria, and she has also found that blood levels of coenzyme Q10 are very low in CFS patients. Myhill suggests that this may damage the heart, an organ that is greatly dependent on coenzyme Q10.

Spanish study with Q10 and NADH

A number of different studies have shown that supplements of coenzyme Q10 and NADH (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) have a positive effect on chronic fatigue syndrome. NADH is normally synthesized from vitamin B3. The combination of Q10 and NADH is therefore very relevant, as both compounds hold a key role in the cellular energy production.
A team of Spanish scientists headed by Dr. Jesus Castro Marrero wanted to investigate if supplements of Q10 and NADH could improve the heart function, the energy turnover, sleep, and the subjective feeling of pain in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome.
80 patients participated in the study, which lasted eight weeks. The patients were either given 200 mg of Q10 and 20 mg of NADH or matching placebo (dummy pills). The scientists used a Danish Q10 preparation with documentation for its superior bioavailability.

Fewer fatigue symptoms

The scientists found a significant reduction of the maximal heart rhythm in those patients, who had been taking Q10 and NADH. In other words, their hearts pumped with less effort. The patients, who took Q10 and NADH, also reported having fewer fatigue symptoms during all the follow-up trials compared with the placebo group. No significant difference was observed between the two groups in terms of sleep or pain. The Q10 and NADH supplements were well tolerated and did not produce any side effects.
The study was published in Clinical Nutrition in 2016.

  • Q10 is involved in the energy turnover of the mitochondria
  • Most of our Q10 is synthesized by the body, but our endogenous production starts to decrease when we reach our twenties
  • With mitochondrial diseases like chronic fatigue syndrome, cells may have an increased need for Q10

Q10 has several effects on mitochondrial diseases

Many scientists call chronic fatigue syndrome a mitochondrial disease. Besides serving as powerhouses for the cells, mitochondria have a number of other essential functions such as cell division, calcium signaling, monitoring of growth, and programmed cell destruction (apoptosis). Mitochondria have a huge responsibility when it comes to supporting cells and their health, and enabling them to self-destruct when they are worn out or affected by DNA damage.
As part of various ageing processes, mitochondria may undergo different types of change. It is assumed that conditions such as migraine, senility, fibromyalgia, and neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease are all a result of malfunctioning mitochondria.
It appears that mitochondria are also very vulnerable to free radicals, which are aggressive molecules that attack and destroy healthy cells. The number of free radicals is heavily increased by infections, inflammation, poisoning, smoking, and other stressing factors.
Q10 is the only antioxidant that is able to protect mitochondrial DNA (also known as mDNA) against free radicals. This is very important, because mitochondria, unlike cells, are unable to repair damage to their own DNA. Therefore, they depend on extra protection.
Q10 is a unique substance in that it is vital for the energy turnover in the mitochondria but also as serves to protect the mitochondrial DNA.

Q10 protects the vulnerable mitochondria

Cells have their own DNA. So do mitochondria. Mitochondrial DNA is also called mDNA. Mitochondria live their own life inside the cells and are able to reproduce independently. Mitochondria need protection for their vulnerable mDNA, and this is where Q10 fits into the picture.

Other studies with Q10 and chronic fatigue syndrome

Sarah Myhill’s previous research and her demonstration of how to use Q10 as therapy for patients with chronic fatigue syndrome is described in Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine. Depending on the individual patient’s Q10 levels, she recommends using daily Q10 doses in the range of 200-600 mg in order to obtain a therapeutic effect. It is possible to reduce the dosage later on, once blood levels of Q10 have increased. To get the greatest benefit, she also recommends a vitamin B3 supplement (vitamin B3 is a precursor of NADH). In addition, Myhill recommends taking supplements of magnesium and L-carnitine (which is found in red meat).

Choose a Q10 supplement that the body can absorb and utilize

Q10 is a lipid-soluble substance. The Q10 molecules (in the raw material) aggregate and form large, indigestible crystals at temperatures below 49 degrees. The digestive system cannot dissolve these crystals, which means that they pass through the digestive tract. The only way to deal with this problem is to expose the Q10 raw material to a special manufacturing technique involving different oils and a heating process, which alters the surface of the crystals, whereby the can dissolved completely at normal body temperature. This allows the individual Q10 molecule to pass through the intestinal membrane and enter the bloodstream. When choosing a Q10 supplement, always look for preparations that have documentation for their bioavailability. This is the only way to make sure that the Q10 can reach the mitochondria.


Castro-Marrero J et al. Effect of coenzyme Q10 plus nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide supplementation on maximum heart rate after testing in chronic fatigue syndrome – A randomized, controlled, double-blind trial. Clin Nut. 2016 Aug; 35 (4): 826-34

Myhill Sarah et al; Chronic fatigue syndrome and mitochondrial dysfunction. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental medicine 2009

Pernille Lund. Q10 – fra helsekost til epokegørende medicin. Ny Videnskab 2014

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