Migraines can be prevented with CoQ10 supplementation

Deficiency of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is the second most common deficiency in migraine sufferers after magnesium. Fully one third of migraine sufferers are deficient in CoQ10, according to a study by Dr. Andrew Hershey and his colleagues published in the journal Headache. They tested 1,550 children and adolescents and a study in such a large population tends to be very reliable. Supplementing these children with 1 to 3 mg/kg of CoQ10 produced significant improvement not only in CoQ10 levels but also in the frequency of attacks (from 19 a month to 12) and the disability (the disability score dropped from 47 to 23).

This deficiency is present in adults as well, as was shown in another study by a Swiss neurologist, Dr. Peter Sandor and his colleagues. They gave 100 mg of CoQ10 three times a day or placebo to 42 adult migraine sufferers and discovered that a 50% drop in migraine attack frequency occurred in 48% of patients on CoQ10 and only 14% of patients on placebo.

The Hershey study was done in a more logical way – determine who is deficient and give them CoQ10. If you give CoQ10 to those who need it and those who don’t, the results of the study and in practice will not be as impressive. Although CoQ10 is not expensive ($7 a month for 200 mg a day) and is very safe, why supplement to someone who does not need it? Although the blood test for CoQ10 is fairly expensive ($158 at Labcorp), it is usually covered by most insurance plans. It is important to ask your doctor what the actual blood level was because the laboratories will report as normal values between 0.37 and 2.2 (Labcorp) or 0.44 and 1.64 (Quest Diagnostics), studies have shown that the level should be at least 0.7.

As far as side effects, a few of my patients developed insomnia, possibly because CoQ10 is involved in energy generation, so I always advise taking it in the morning. While Sandor gave his patients 100 mg three times a day, in Hershey’s study the benefit appeared at lower doses. I usually recommend 100 to 200 mg (depending on body weight and how low the level is), to be taken once, in the morning.

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