For over 30 years, only one form of CoQ10 was available in supplement form—Ubiquinone. But when another form of CoQ10 called Ubiquinol (or CoQH-10) was introduced a few years ago, it created some confusion and generated questions among consumers.
And since CoQ10 is now among the most popular supplements in the U.S. , ranking 4th after fish oil, multivitamins and Vitamin D, we wanted to address some of these questions here.
What is CoQ10 and why would I take it?
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a naturally occurring anti-oxidant compound in your body that is used for energy production within cells. It's manufactured in the heart, liver, kidney and pancreas.
The body normally produces sufficient CoQ10, although some medications such as statins may interfere with this process and CoQ10 levels in the body may decline with age.
Only small amounts of CoQ10 are available from food, mainly beef and chicken. This is why dietary supplements are the most common way to increase the body's CoQ10 levels.
As a supplement CoQ10 is widely used to support: energy production, antioxidant capacity, cardiovascular and immune health, and blood sugar metabolism.
What’s the difference between the two forms of CoQ10?
CoQ10 naturally exists in two forms in the body because it undergoes “redox chemistry” meaning that it flips back and forth between having two additional electrons and not having them. This is integral to its function in the body, as it transports a flow of electrons down a gradient to allow for chemical energy to be harnessed. This is the final step in changing our food into the energy that fuels our body.
So when we refer to CoQ10, it exists in one of two states:
Ubiquinol is the form with the extra electrons, which in chemistry-speak is called "reduced."
Ubiquinone is missing the electrons and is called “oxidized."
The presence of those electrons makes a big difference inside your body. This is what makes Ubiquinol more absorbable in the intestine. And, this form is the most preferred by the body for transport in the blood. At any given time about 90% of the CoQ10 in your body is Ubiquinol.
When Ubiquinone (CoQ10) is absorbed, it must first be converted to Ubiquinol in the body in order to be transported, a process some individuals do not perform well.
Which one should I take?
Ubiquinol's greater absorption, and the ability to have higher efficacy with a lower dose, is an attractive reason to choose this form over Ubiquinone. However, it’s higher cost may make it a better choice only for those who specifically need these advantages, such as people who have difficulty with the conversion of CoQ10 to Ubiquinol.
For others, Ubiquinone, the form of CoQ10 available for decades, may fill your needs.
It’s a good idea to speak with your healthcare provider if you’re not sure which form of CoQ10 is best for you.
Natural Products Insider
ConsumerLab (subscription required)