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CoQ10 - Ubiquinone & Ubiquinol - the Difference and Importance

  • The major benefits of CoQ10 and its importance to general health.
  • The difference between ubiquinone and ubiquinol
  • New case study on ubiquinol reported
  • Pharmaceutical statins and ubiquinol

CoQ10 is an ideal nutrient for all of us. It affects our energy and longevity, heart health, blood pressure, brain, gums, stomach, immune system, and much more. It is an enzyme found in almost all cells in the body, where it helps with the production of energy within the mitochondria. There is evidence that it can increase the volume of oxygen in the blood by as much as 15%.

Our cells require CoQ10 to function properly and without it, the cells perish. It is a strong anti-oxidant in both mitochondria and lipid membranes. CoQ10 is located exactly where the free-radicals are generated (in the mitochondria) during the oxidation of nutrients and the production of ATP, making it an important factor in slowing the aging process.

CoQ10 was discovered in 1957 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Enzyme Institute by Fred L. Crane and colleagues. Since 1960, universities and researchers have published over 1,600 articles in medical journals demonstrating CoQ10's benefits and importance. In 1978, Peter D. Mitchell won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his discovery of the significance of CoQ10 in energy production.

The organs with the highest CoQ10 concentration are the heart, lungs and liver. Ninety-five percent of our body's energy requirements require the aid of CoQ10. CoQ10 is heavily concentrated in the heart where it benefits cardiovascular function (see the case study below). CoQ10 has been an aid to people with high blood pressure, peptic ulcers, periodontal disease, migraine headaches, muscular dystrophy, and of course heart disease. CoQ10 also aids in slowing down the aging process, stimulating the immune system and protecting brain cells. As we age, the dopamine production within the brain decreases, impairing our memories and movement.

CoQ10 now is available in two forms: ubiquinone and ubiquinol. Ubiquinone is the product most familiar to us since it has been available in the marketplace for a long time and research has shown its benefits. It is commonly referred to as C0Q10.  Both forms are intimately related since they produce energy and respond with antioxidant protection in the oxidation process.

Therefore, ubiquinone is converted within our body into ubiquinol, the potent anti-oxidant portion of CoQ10. However, as we age, our ability to make this conversion reduces significantly. Therein lays the major difference between the two products. Ubiquinol is already in its reduced form as a potent anti-oxidant. Ubiquinol inhibits protein and lipid oxidation in cell membranes, and helps to minimize oxidative injury to DNA.

So what significance does this have for us? Here is a recent case study received by Kaneka, the manufacturer of natural pharmaceutical grade ubiquinol and ubiquinone:

A 65-year old gentleman with advanced ischemic cardiomyopathy was on maximal medical therapy. In June of 2006, he had low heart function and was receiving 450mg of a soybean oil-based CoQ10 that revealed a level that was sub-therapeutic. He was then given the ubiquinol formulation at exactly the same dosage of 450mg per day. Three months later, in September of 2006, his CoQ10 level had increased dramatically. Further tests one month later showed a dramatic improvement in heart function and he no longer required any diuretics. By January of 2007, his improvement was great enough that he became quite active and required no further hospitalizations. The case study ended with the physician stating: "This single case represents very striking improvement that I have not seen before in 25 years of cardiology practice...We have now repeated and are continuing to treat several other patients with end-stage or far advanced congestive heart failure with similar remarkable findings."

This study demonstrates the importance of using ubiquinol, especially as we age. Keep in mind there is every indication that the ubiquinone form has benefits other than those of ubiquinol. To take full advantage of the benefits of CoQ10, the dosage should include both forms and then according to age as to which one you take the most. Also, as demonstrated, ubiquinol does not require the high amount needed by ubiquinone to gain the same therapeutic effect for certain conditions.

CoQ10 is very safe for healthy individuals. However, if you are on diabetic medications, diuretics, insulin, ACE inhibitors, Beta Blockers, calcium channel blockers, HMG Co-A Reductase Inhibitors, Anticoagulants, or Dopamine-enhancing drugs, check with your doctor. CoQ10's benefits may require changing dosages of these drugs. Also, check with your health care provider if you are pregnant or you are giving this to a child.

CoQ10 levels can also be reduced by pharmaceutical cholesterol lowering drugs (statins). You should check with your health care provider regarding the dosage. It could go as high as 2,000mg of ubiquinone or a smaller amount of ubiquinol. A standard dosage appears to be recommended in the literature as 200mg. My suggestion is to take 100mg of ubiquinone and 100mg of ubiquinol to gain the benefits of both. An article published in January, 2007 in the journal CNS Spectrums by Dr. Young from Duke University suggested that safe levels of CoQ10 are between 300mg to 2,400mg a day.

Plasma ubiquinol levels plateau after two to four weeks of supplementation. This does not reduce CoQ10 biosynthesis and if a person stops taking ubiquinol the body returns to its original levels after two weeks.

References are available upon request. Contents of this article are for the purpose of information and education only, and not a guide to diagnosis or treatment of a particular disorder or its symptoms.  Michael LeVesque    All rights reserved. Copyright 2008, 2009