Types of CoQ10

- what you need to know



Coenzyme Q10 has received renewed attention after the publication of new scientific studies using Q10 on healthy older persons and also on heart patients, both with amazing success that has been echoed in the media worldwide.

On this occasion, many want to know what kind of Q10 has been used in these studies? Some believe that it was the new form of Q10, called ubiquinol that was used, but this is not the case. The answer is that it was ubiquinone dissolved in vegetable oil in soft gelatin capsules, and the daily dosage was distributed throughout the day. In fact, ubiquinone has been used in almost all scientific studies with Q10 to date.

This raises the question: who in particular will benefit from this newer and more expensive ubiquinol form of Q10? The short answer is: only a very few people!


Question: Who needs Ubiquinol?

Answer: Practically no one

Ubiquinone from food and supplements will be activated (chemical term: will be reduced) as it passes the intestinal wall, and then the active Q10 will be enclosed in lipid particles from the food, and the Q10 will be absorbed and will pass into the lymphatic system and will head out into the blood.


Question: What about reduced intestinal uptake?

Answer: Use Q10 dissolved in oil

The rule is that, if you can absorb fat, you can also absorb Q10 dissolved in fat.

Some people might have diminished uptake because of liver disease, pancreatic disease (diabetes), irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis and other disorders that impair digestion; moreover, patients who have undergone surgery in the digestive tract may experience a diminished fat absorption from the gut. However, we lack knowledge about the absorption of ubiquinol as only a little research has been done on the absorption of ubiquinol.  The ubiquinol research is definitely not of the same magnitude as the research with ubiquinone.


Question: What about older people having diminished uptake?

Answer: Age in itself is not a problem

People in their seventies experience no problem absorbing ubiquinone.


Question: What about older people having diminished conversion ability of ubiquinone to ubiquinol?

Answer: No problem, just add selenium

Supplementation with selenium can solve a problem, if one exists, caused by the diminished conversion of ubiquinone to ubiquinol because a special selenoprotein, thioredoxin reductase, converts ubiquinone to ubiquinol in the body.


Question: How can we trust that ubiquinone works?

A man with pain in the heart regionAnswer: Most of the good Q10 research has been done with ubiquinone

For many years, there has been only one form of Q10 on the market, and that form of Q10 has been ubiquinone, the oxidized form of Q10. All the scientific research results from this period are based on ubiquinone. The amount and quality of ubiquinol research is still insufficient.

Moreover, a comparative head-to-head bio-availability test done in Sevilla, Spain, in 2018 showed that the ubiquinone product used in the Q-Symbio study and the KiSel-10 study has a significantly better absorption and bio-availability than a well-formulated competing ubiquinol product.  (López-Lluch G. et al. Nutrition 2019: 57, 133–40.)


Question: Are there any areas in which ubiquinol would be preferable over ubiquinone?

Answer: No, well, maybe just one: therapeutic mega dosages

Health professionals using ubiquinol in their work can gain an advantage when they need to use extraordinarily high Q10 dosages. This is because the blood levels of ubiquinol will continue to rise with increasing dosages in contrast to using ubiquinone in which the blood levels of Q10 will eventually begin to flatten out with increasing dosage. However, ubiquinone has also been used successfully in therapeutic dosages. You just need to split the daily dosage over the course of the day and take the ubiquinone at breakfast, at lunch, and at dinner.


Question: What do head-to-head comparison studies of CoQ10 bio-availability show?

Answer:  To date (spring 2019), there have been only three head-to-head comparative studies of the absorption and bio-availability of oral ubiquinone and ubiquinol products:

The comparative study conducted by Professors G. Lopez-Lluch and P. Navas in Sevilla, Spain, showed that Coenzyme Q10 bio-availability depends on the carrier lipids used in the product formulation and on the solubility of the Coenzyme Q10 crystals.  In the study, a patented ubiquinone CoQ10 product was associated with significantly better bio-availability than a patented ubiquinol product was.  Both the patented ubiquinone product and the patented ubiquinol product significantly out-performed five other ubiquinone product formulations. Hence the conclusion: the formulation of the Coenzyme Q10 product is even more important than the form (ubiquinone or ubiquinol) of the product.

López-Lluch, G., Del Pozo-Cruz, J., Sánchez-Cuesta, A., Cortés-Rodríguez, A. B., & Navas, P. (2019). Bioavailability of Coenzyme Q10 supplements depends on carrier lipids and solubilization. Nutrition, 57, 133–140.

The study conducted by Assistant Professor C. Y. Oliver Chen in the Greater Boston Area showed that the ubiquinol supplementation was not associated with a significantly greater increase in older men's plasma ubiquinol concentrations than the ubiquinone supplementation was (see page 5656 table 1).

In other words, you can get plenty of ubiquinol in your plasma and in your lipoproteins by taking a good ubiquinone supplement.  A seminal study by Drs. Mohr, Bowry, & Stocker has shown that daily supplementation with a good ubiquinone CoQ10 product will result in significant increases in plasma ubiquinol concentrations and in the concentrations of ubiquinol in lipoproteins in the blood.

Zhang, Y., Liu, J., Chen, X., & Chen, C-Y. O. (2018). Ubiquinol is superior to ubiquinone to enhance Coenzyme Q10 status in older men. Food & Function, 9: 5653-5659.

Mohr, D., Bowry, V. W., & Stocker, R. (1992). Dietary supplementation with Coenzyme Q10 results in increased levels of ubiquinol-10 within circulating lipoproteins and increased resistance of human low-density lipoprotein to the initiation of lipid peroxidation. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, 1126(3), 247-254.

The study conducted by Dr. P. H. Langsjoen in Tyler, Texas, showed that the plasma CoQ10 concentration is almost entirely in the ubiquinol form regardless of the form (ubiquinone or ubiquinol) of the oral supplement.  This makes sense. In the blood circulation, there is less need for the ubiquinone form of CoQ10, which is essential for the process of ATP energy production. Instead, there is a need in the plasma, in the peripheral blood mononuclear cells, and in the lipoproteins in the blood for  antioxidant protection. Ubiquinol is an important antioxidant.  When the CoQ10 transfers from the blood to the cells and tissues, the ubiquinol will be converted to the ubiquinone form.

What is the take-away from these comparative studies?

The form of the Coenzyme Q10 in the supplement is less important than the formulation.  
Supplementation with either form of Coenzyme Q10 will result in significantly increased ubiquinol in the lymph and the blood.
Even older men achieved significant increases in plasma ubiquinol concentration following supplementation with a ubiquinone CoQ10 product.  

The important thing is to choose a Coenzyme Q10 supplement with documented absorption and efficacy.