Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10 for short, is a naturally occurring substance in the energy-producing centers of cell mitochondria. CoQ10 is involved in the production of adenosine triphosphate, or ATP for short, which is the cell’s major source of energy and which drives a number of biological processes, including muscle contraction and the production of protein. In addition, CoQ10 is an antioxidant that minimizes the damage free radicals inflict on the body. In children, CoQ10 use has yet to be fully studied. However, in cases of rare genetic conditions, children may benefit from CoQ10 supplementation.
Niemann-Pick disease is a hereditary illness where fatty substances accumulate in the cells of the spleen, liver and brain. Children with this disease are unable to properly break down cholesterol and other fats. Parents of children with this disease have tried using CoQ10 for its cholesterol-lowering properties, the National Niemann-Pick Disease Foundation reports. The most common form of CoQ10 used is in gel capsules. The results of the use of CoQ10 vary from child to child, and parents report that the effects are not permanent.
Prader-Willi syndrome, or PWS for short, is a rare genetic disorder that appears at birth and is characterized by poor muscle tone, distinct facial features, such as almond-shaped eyes and a narrowing of the head at the temples, and general listlessness or weakness. Children with this syndrome may be given CoQ10 to address the CoQ10 deficiency associated with PWS. Reported results from using CoQ10 for this condition have been inconsistent and varied, and consist mainly of anecdotal reports and observations.
Side effects arising from the use of CoQ10 are typically mild and brief and stop without the need any treatment, MayoClinic.com reports. While there are few serious reported side effects of using CoQ10, reactions such as nausea, vomiting, stomach upset, heartburn, diarrhea, loss of appetite, skin itching, rash, insomnia, headache, dizziness, irritability, increased light sensitivity, fatigue and flu-like symptoms have been noted. Caution is advised for children with diabetes or hypoglycemia or those taking drugs, herbs or supplements that affect blood sugar, because CoQ10 may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is also advised for children with low blood pressure or taking blood pressure medications because CoQ10 may also decrease blood pressure.
Supplement, Not Treatment
There is not enough reliable information about CoQ10 to recommend its use with children under the age of 18, MayoClinic.com warns. When considering administering CoQ10 to a child, it is best to first consult with a knowledgeable health care provider and to administer CoQ10 under the health care provider’s strict supervision. Further research is required, and CoQ10 should be considered only as a supplement and not as a replacement for the treatment recommended by your health care provider.
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Conenzyme Q10; Steven D. Ehrlich; March 2009
- Mayo Clinic; Coenzyme Q10; April 2011
- MedlinePlus; Coenzyme Q10; January 2011
- National Niemann-Pick Disease Foundation: What is CoQ10 (Coenzyme Q10)?
- Prader-Willi Syndrome Association; Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) & Prader-Willi Syndrome; February 2006