Coenzyme Q10, also known as CoQ10, is a powerful ally in maintaining the health of our cells and energy production. It is a powerful antioxidant that can be hard to come by with our modern diet and lifestyle. It gets confusing, however when trying to determine which form of CoQ10 to take as a supplement. Let’s take a closer look.
Our heart, liver, and skeletal muscles all have especially high CoQ10 needs, so adequate CoQ10 levels are very important to keep these organs functioning optimally. The popular cholesterol-lowering medication family known as “statins” are notorious for depleting CoQ10 in skeletal muscles, leading to the common side effect of muscle cramps. Supplemental CoQ10 comes in two different forms: ubiquinone and ubiquinol.
Ubiquinone, also known as oxidized or natural CoQ10, is converted into the bioactive form of ubiquinol, also known as reduced or active CoQ10, to be used by the body. Ubiquinol is the predominant form of CoQ10 found in youth and young adults. After the age of about 30 years, the body becomes increasingly inefficient at converting ubiquinone into ubiquinol.
In the true fashion of “getting what you pay for,” ubiquinol is usually more expensive than the ubiquinone. Research has demonstrated that ubiquinol is particularly effective at improving CoQ10 levels over ubiquinone (or a supplement that might be labeled simply as “CoQ10”). In some cases, ubiquinol can increase blood serum levels of CoQ10 by as much as 430%. While ubiquinol may be more expensive than ubiquinone, the increased effectiveness makes up for the difference.
The benefits of ubiquinol include:
Reduced symptoms and mortality of heart failure. Research has found that CoQ10 supplementation effectively reduces symptoms, complications, and hospitalizations as a result of heart failure. It has also been found to reduce the risk of dying from heart-related problems in general.
Improved fertility. CoQ10 is an important factor in protecting ova (eggs) from the oxidative stress that accumulates over time. Supplemental CoQ10 has been found to slow and even reverse age-related decline in egg quality and quantity. Likewise, CoQ10 has also been found to improve sperm quality, concentration, and motility due to its antioxidant activity.
Increased insulin sensitivity. Mitochondrial dysfunction contributes to insulin resistance and the development of metabolic disorders like diabetes. Diagnosed diabetics tend to have low levels of this important antioxidant. Research has shown that CoQ10 supplementation can improve insulin sensitivity and stabilize blood sugar levels.
There have been no major side effects from the use of ubiquinol reported to date, and if a patient can afford it, I usually recommend starting with a dose of 200mg of ubiquinol per day. This dose will be sufficient to reach therapeutic blood serum levels for most people, but research has shown dosages of up to 1,200mg per day to be safe. As CoQ10 is fat-soluble, it is best to take it with food, preferably with a meal that contains a good amount of healthy fat, to improve absorption.
Since most of us face our share of oxidative stress and ubiquinol production decreases with age, most people over the age of 25 could benefit from ubiquinol CoQ10 supplementation. This bioactive CoQ10 can help boost cellular energy, normalize mitochondrial function, and offers effective protection from free radical damage.