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Ubiquinone vs. Ubiquinol: Don’t believe the Hype!

Don’t be fooled by the advertising hype about ‘the other CoQ10 that supplement companies don’t want you to know about’, it is nothing more than advertising hype so they can sell their more expensive CoQ10.  Let me give you the facts about CoQ10 so you can save some money $$$.

Ubiquinone and Ubiquinol come from the word “ubiquitous,” meaning “everywhere,” as in CoQ10 is found in every cell in the human body. So what exactly is the difference between these two forms?

CoQ10 has two basic functions, energy production and antioxidant protection. Ubiquinone is the oxidized form of CoQ10 used to create energy in the mitochondria of the cells. (We tend to think of “oxidized” as bad, yet in this case it simply means that it is in the form needed to produce ATP.) Ubiquinol is the reduced form of CoQ10 and is used to provide antioxidant protection for each cell.

The body needs both forms, and it is CoQ10’s location in the body determines the form it takes. Inside the cells, where energy is produced, Ubiquinone is in needed. Outside the cells, in the blood and on cell membranes, Ubiquinol is needed and works as an antioxidant. Together Ubiquinone and Ubiquinol form a redox pair which means each one can be easily converted to the other by the body.

Given the fact that the body can switch the two substances back and forth to meet its own requirements, the argument that Ubiquinol is the “biologically active” form of CoQ10 is not valid. Claims have been made that Ubiquinone is viewed as inferior to Ubiquinol and that adults over 40 have difficulty-reducing Ubiquinone to Ubiquinol yet a recent human study indicates otherwise and that it is not true.  Also all Ubiquinol found in animal protein is converted to Ubiquinone through the process of cooking before it is eaten.

Similarly, Ubiquinol taken as a supplement is quite unstable in the stomach and is converted back to ubiquinone before absorption. This means that no matter which form of CoQ10 the consumer chooses to ingest, it’s ubiquinone that is absorbed into the body.  This is the truth in science so save some $$$ and don’t believe the hype.

Perhaps more importantly, in the four years since Ubiquinol was presented as an alternative to Ubiquinone, only one human clinical trial on the substance has been published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. In marked contrast, there have been hundreds of clinical studies showing ubiquinone is an effective supplement for a wide variety of illnesses and conditions.

Ubiquinol does appear to have one advantage. It is more bioavailable than the dry powdered forms of ubiquinone that have been widely commercially available. In a head-to-head single-dose study, oil-based Ubiquinol was found to be 60 percent better absorbed than powdered ubiquinone, and that percentage may increase with longer-term supplementation. However, Ubiquinols’ increased absorption over ubiquinone powder is not entirely surprising, given the fact that CoQ10 is primarily lipid-soluble, so it needs to be in the presence of oil to be absorbed.  To get the same absorption with Ubiquinone just take it with fat, raw nuts, coconut oil, flax oil, or avocado.

Despite its higher bioavailability than powdered ubiquinone, Ubiquinol has several drawbacks. First, it’s significantly more expensive. Second, it’s hard to work with. Manufacturers must take great care to protect Ubiquinol from exposure to air, which causes it to change back to Ubiquinone — completely defeating the purpose of using it. Third, delivery options for Ubiquinol are very limited; the only way to encapsulate it is to suspend it in oil in soft gel form.

Sir Eliezer Ben-Joseph