Coenzyme Q10, also known as CoQ10, is a popular dietary supplement used for a variety of health benefits. As with any supplement or medication, it’s important to pay attention to the expiration date to ensure you are getting the full potency. But how long does CoQ10 last? What is the shelf life of CoQ10 supplements?
What is CoQ10?
CoQ10 is a naturally occurring compound that is present in every cell of the body. It plays a vital role in energy production and acts as a powerful antioxidant. Some of the key benefits of CoQ10 include:
- Boosts energy levels
- Supports cardiovascular health
- Helps manage blood pressure
- May improve brain health
- Acts as an antioxidant
Because CoQ10 production naturally declines with age, many people take it as a supplement to restore levels. It’s also used by those taking statin medications to lower cholesterol, as statins deplete CoQ10. The typical recommended daily dose is between 30-200mg per day.
How long does CoQ10 last?
The shelf life of CoQ10 depends primarily on how it is formulated and stored. In general, here is how long you can expect CoQ10 supplements to remain potent:
- Powder form: Up to 1 year past the expiration date when stored properly.
- Capsule form: Up to 2 years past the expiration date when stored properly.
- Liquid softgel form: Up to 3 years past the expiration date when stored properly.
The ingredient breakdown helps explain the differences in shelf life:
In its pure form as a powder, CoQ10 is less stable and more prone to degradation from heat, moisture, and oxygen exposure. Well-sealed containers stored in a cool, dry place help prolong the shelf life of the powder by up to a year past expiration.
Capsule form protects the CoQ10 powder in part from environmental factors. The capsule shell seals out moisture and air to keep the ingredient more stable. Properly stored capsules retain potency for up to 2 years past the expiration date.
Of all formulations, softgels provide the greatest protection for CoQ10. The liquid medium suspends the softgels and creates a strong barrier from oxygen, light, and moisture. Softgels stored correctly can last up to 3 years past expiration.
How to prolong the shelf life of CoQ10
To get the most out of your CoQ10 supplements, be sure to store them properly. Here are some tips:
- Keep CoQ10 sealed in the original container or bottle. Only open when taking a dose.
- Store in a cool, dry location away from excess heat, moisture, and direct light.
- Avoid storing in humid environments like the bathroom or kitchen.
- Check expiration dates and don’t use past the recommended time frame.
- If capsules get powdery or clumpy, or softgels look cloudy, discard them.
How to tell if CoQ10 has expired
CoQ10 breakdown is not always obvious. Here are some signs your supplement may be past its prime:
- The color changes to orange, tan, or brown.
- The powder develops clumps.
- Capsules appear shriveled, sticky, or powdery.
- Softgels look cloudy or foamy.
- The consistency is grainy or gritty.
- There is a smell of oxidization.
An expired supplement may not deliver the same benefits and is best discarded. Do not take chances with potency.
Is expired CoQ10 dangerous?
Consuming CoQ10 past its expiration date likely won’t be dangerous, but it may not provide benefits. Potential dangers include:
- Loss of potency – An expired supplement simply won’t work as well.
- Degraded ingredients – CoQ10 may break down into compounds that are not effective.
- Bacterial growth – Bacteria and mold can start to grow in old supplements.
- Toxicity – Oxidization can cause CoQ10 to develop free radicals that are damaging.
While these risks are small, it is still best to discard old CoQ10.
Does CoQ10 expire if unopened?
Yes, even unopened CoQ10 has an expiration date. The ingredients will slowly degrade over time regardless. However, an unopened bottle stored properly can last:
- Up to 2 years past expiration for capsules
- Up to 3 years past expiration for softgels
Once opened, these timelines are reduced due to oxygen exposure. Use unopened CoQ10 by the expiration date for greatest potency.
Can you freeze CoQ10?
Freezing is not recommended for CoQ10 supplements. The freeze/thaw cycles can cause condensation leading to the capsules or softgels becoming sticky. Freezing can also alter the molecular structure of CoQ10, reducing stability.
Does heat degrade CoQ10?
Yes, heat can degrade CoQ10 supplements over time, shortening the shelf life. High temperatures can cause the ingredients to break down through oxidation. Here are some precautions:
- Avoid storing CoQ10 in hot places like a garage, car, or shed.
- Don’t leave supplements sitting in direct sunlight.
- Keep away from heat sources like stoves, heaters, and radiators.
- Avoid freezing CoQ10 as thawing leads to moisture damage.
- Store in an air conditioned environment between 59-77 F.
Does CoQ10 need to be refrigerated?
Refrigeration is not necessary for CoQ10. In fact, repeatedly cooling and warming can lead to condensation which damages the ingredients. It’s best to store CoQ10 supplements at normal room temperature away from heat, light, and moisture.
Can you take CoQ10 after expiration date?
It’s not recommended to take CoQ10 past the expiration date. While it likely won’t be harmful, potency and effectiveness diminish over time. Old CoQ10 may have antioxidant capabilities but not offer the full range of benefits. Your best bet is to discard expired CoQ10 and purchase a fresh bottle.
Is liquid or powder CoQ10 better?
CoQ10 supplements are available in powder, capsule, and liquid softgel form. Here is a comparison:
|Easily adjustable doses
|Shorter shelf life
|Stable for longer
|Most shelf stable
For most people, softgels offer the best balance of easy dosing and long-term stability. But powder can be a good option if adjusting doses often.
Does CoQ10 need to be taken with food?
While it’s not completely necessary, taking CoQ10 supplements with a meal can boost absorption. Fatty foods seem to improve bioavailability the most. Some tips:
- Take capsules or softgels during or just after meals.
- Eat sources of fat like avocado, nuts, olive oil when dosing.
- Avoid taking on an empty stomach as absorption will be reduced.
- Powders can be mixed into smoothies or shakes for better absorption.
Always follow dosage directions and talk to your doctor about the best way to take your CoQ10 supplement.
Does CoQ10 need to be taken in the morning or at night?
CoQ10 supplements can be taken at any time of day. Some evidence suggests taking in the morning may improve energy levels throughout the day. At night helps some people sleep. Consider these factors:
- Morning – May provide an energy boost and better exercise performance.
- With lunch – Taking with food improves absorption.
- Afternoon – May help stabilize energy and focus for the rest of the day.
- Evening – Could support sleep quality and heart health overnight.
Choose the time that works best with your daily routine and needs. Splitting the dose AM and PM is another good option.
Is it better to take CoQ10 all at once or split the dose?
With a longer half-life, CoQ10 can be taken all at once or split into smaller doses. Potential benefits of each approach:
- Once daily: More convenient, better compliance for some people.
- Twice daily: Keeps a steadier level of CoQ10 in the bloodstream.
- With meals: Improves absorption if taken multiple times daily with food.
To maximize blood levels, consider taking CoQ10 twice per day with breakfast and dinner. But check with your doctor.
Should you cycle on and off CoQ10?
There is no evidence that cycling on and off CoQ10 is beneficial or necessary. Since it is a natural compound already made in the body, most people can take it long-term without issues. Considerations include:
- Stable dosing – Maintains steady blood levels for better effects.
- Convenience – Don’t have to track “on” and “off” periods.
- Saving money – No need to purchase new bottles every cycle.
- Health benefits – Continued support for heart, brain, energy, etc.
Unless advised by your doctor for specific health reasons, long-term daily use of CoQ10 within recommended dosages is considered safe and effective.
What are the side effects of CoQ10?
CoQ10 has an excellent safety profile. Most people tolerate it very well even at higher doses. Potential side effects may include:
- Upset stomach
- Rashes (rare)
Side effects tend to be mild and often resolve quickly. Lowering the dose can help if they persist. Seek medical advice if any severe symptoms develop.
Can you take too much CoQ10?
It is possible to take too much CoQ10, especially over long periods. Recommended daily doses range from 30-200mg. Taking more than this can increase the risk of adverse effects.
Signs of CoQ10 overdose may include:
- Digestive upset – Nausea, diarrhea, loss of appetite, stomach pain.
- Headaches and migraines
- Irritability and mood changes
- Skin rashes or itching
Exceeding 400-500mg per day regularly is considered potentially unsafe. Reduce your dose if side effects develop and seek medical guidance if severe.
Is CoQ10 safe with blood pressure and heart medications?
In most cases, CoQ10 is safe to take with blood pressure lowering medications, statins, and other heart drugs. However, it’s best to check with your doctor first.
Things to consider:
- CoQ10 may slightly lower blood pressure further.
- May increase the effects of anticoagulant and antiplatelet medications.
- Can reduce the muscle pain caused by statin cholesterol drugs.
- Allows statins to work more effectively at lower doses.
With proven benefits for the heart and cardiovascular system, CoQ10 is often recommended for heart health. But monitoring may be needed to adjust medication dosages accordingly.
Can you give CoQ10 to dogs?
Yes, CoQ10 supplements are sometimes given to dogs for health benefits. Possible reasons include:
- Boost energy levels
- Support heart function
- Reduce effects of aging
- Improve brain health
- Act as an antioxidant
Always consult your veterinarian first. Typical dosage is 1-2mg per pound of body weight daily. Give with a meal for easier absorption. Monitor for side effects like digestive upset.
When stored correctly, the shelf life of CoQ10 supplements can extend a year or more past the expiration date. Softgel forms tend to last the longest. Keep bottles sealed in a cool, dry spot away from heat, moisture, and light. Discard if there are any signs of degradation or damage. While taking expired CoQ10 likely causes no harm, potency and effectiveness will decline over time.