Disclaimer – Before I start rambling I would first like to make a general disclaimer. The US supplement industry is a $37 billion industry. Like any other industry, its goal is to make itself essential to consumers. Except in cases of extreme deficiency, supplementation with any biologically active substance has not been conclusively shown to improve the health of healthy individuals. In February 2014 the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force found current evidence insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of multivitamins, single or paired nutrient supplements to prevent cardiovascular disease or cancer. Its final statement neither recommends nor advises against multivitamins or other supplements. However, there are researchers who consider supplementation a cheap form of health insurance. Adding supplements to your health regimen is a personal choice.
Second, because our physiologies are different, please research any supplement carefully before adding it to your health regimen. Something that might be good for me or would cause no issue for me could actually harm you. A case in point is Vitamin K. Vitamin K is an essential cofactor in reactions that are involved in blood coagulation. My husband has a clotting disorder and is on Coumadin. Vitamin K could neutralize the effect of Coumadin and lead to another embolism – not something I ever want to see happen again.
Now, to the Point
Background – Coenzyme Q 10 (CoQ10) is a fat soluble compound and is a member of the ubiquinone family of compounds. It is synthesized in the body and can also be consumed in the diet. Foods that are high in CoQ10 are oily fishes, organ meats and whole grains. CoQ10 can exist in three oxidation states. Ubiquinol is the fully reduced state (electron donor), ubiquinone is the fully oxidized state (electron acceptor) and semiquinone intermediate is an intermediate between the two.
This compound is found in all cellular membranes. Inside our cells it is very important in two organelles (specialized structures inside a living cell) – mitochondria and lysosomes. Mitocondria are the organelles that convert the energy found in carbohydrates and fats to adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is the form of energy used by cells. This conversion of fuel to energy requires CoQ10. Lysosomes are the organelles that act as the cells garbage bins. They contain digestive enzymes that break down the cellular debris inside the cells. The pH inside lysosomes is very acidic. Lysosomal membranes are very high in CoQ10. Research suggests that the CoQ10 is responsible for transporting protons into the lysosomes to maintain the acidic pH.
Ubiquinol, the reduced state of CoQ10 is also an effective fat-soluble antioxidant. It inhibits lipid peroxidation of cell membranes and low density lipoproteins in vitro (in a test tube or elsewhere outside the body). There is evidence that it performs the same function in vivo (inside a living organism). In addition to acting as an antioxidant outright, ubiquinol regenerates alpha tocopherol (Vitamin E) after it neutralizes a free radical and becomes alpha tocopheroxide.
Statins and CoQ10 – Statins are cholesterol-lowering drugs that work by blocking an enzyme called HGM-CoA reductase which controls cholesterol production in the liver. Unfortunately, they also block the endogeneous formation of CoQ10 as well as interfering with multiple pathways in the body where cholesterol is an intermediary such as all your sex hormones and cortisone. Adverse side effects include muscle weakness, kidney damage, increased blood sugar levels, memory loss and cataracts. Because of the current widespread use of statins for primary prevention of heart attacks, some critics of statin use are calling the pharmaceutical industries push a “conspiracy of false hope”. There is only one study in the literature called the JUPITER study that suggested a positive outcome with the use of statins for primary prevention. The Archives of Internal Medicine revisited the JUPITER study in 2010 and found that not only did the study misrepresent data but that potential ethical, clinical and financial conflicts of interest were at work in the execution of the JUPITER study. Keep in mind that the use of statins for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease has led to 10s of billions of dollars for the drug companies who have patents on the statin drugs.
All that being said, if I were on statins and did not have any contraindications, I would definitely take CoQ10.
Ubiquinol as a supplement – Studies have shown that water soluble ubiquinol is more readily absorbed than water soluble ubiquinone in a rat model. The same result was found in an in vitro absorption model. Studies have also shown that the water soluble forms of both are much more readily absorbed than powders.
There are different CoQ10s on the market. The most common quality product used in most formulations of ubiquinol is Kaneka Ubiquinol™. It is a formulation created by Kaneka Corporation in Japan who was the first to commercialize CoQ10 more than 35 years ago and was the first to manufacture ubiquinol in 2007. The product is derived for Kaneka Q10™ the only all natural yeast-fermented CoQ10 and is bio-identical to human CoQ10 meaning it is identical to the CoQ10 we make ourselves. Kaneka North America LLC is the parent corporation of Kaneka Nutrients and manufacture Kaneka Ubiquinol™ in their plant in Pasadena, TX. They are the only manufacturer of CoQ10 and Ubiquinol in the United States.
Recently BioQ10 SA™ has entered the market. It is an advanced version of ubiquinone that was developed for absorption using a proprietary emulsification process using a specific soy protein by Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Company. Its absorption is equal to that of Kaneka Ubiquinol™.
As long as you are taking formulations that use one of these two CoQ10 sources, I believe you will be receiving the most bioavailable CoQ10 on the market. You will need to decide for yourself which formulation is right for you. Most quality brands of ubiquinol use Kaneka Ubiquinol™ including Doctor’s Best, Jarrow Formulas, Life Extension, Qunol, Nature Made, Nature’s Bounty, and Now Foods. My recommendation is to purchase your vitamins from a reliable source such as eVitamins or Walmart. Just read the label to make sure the active ingredient is either BioQ10 SA™ or Kaneka Ubiquinol™.
Please feel free to add your comments or review of CoQ10. Nutritional information is always improving.
To your best body yet,
very nice review and I rather enjoyed reading it. How ever, if we are living in a day of nutrient deficient food then, of course taking additional nutrients via supplementation is going to help.
However with that said it has to be real vitamins, and not the synthetic vitamins, it is the synthetic vitamins that have been shown to have little or no effect. They are not “vitamins” anyway but a synthetic compound.
Dear Derek, Thank you for your comments. I agree that with today’s food climate supplementation is essential for good heath. While sometimes natural is better as in the case of vitamins E and K, ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is the same compound whether natural or synthetic. As always, it is better to research what you are ingesting before you buy.
I am new to taking supplements beyond calcium and a daily multi-vitamin :).As we head into 2016 I am looking for ways to improve my health. Your article about Ubiquinone vs. Ubiquinol seems to be thoroughly researched. How would you summarize the top 3 benefits of Coenzyme Q10 for a newbie like myself?
Alyssa, Thank you so much for your question. The absolute number one benefit of CoQ10 is heart health. There is some evidence that CoQ10 may reduce the frequency of headaches for migraine sufferers, it may help to slow down age-related hearing loss. CoQ10 might also reduce exercise-induced muscular injury in athletes. Good luck in your search for ways to improve your health. Good predominately plant-based diet and 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week is a great way to either start down or stay on the path to improved health.