As we get older, the ability to efficiently produce the electron-rich ubiquinol form of CoQ10 declines.
Q: I’ve been hearing a lot about ubiquinol lately. Just what is it, and what are the benefits to taking it?
A: Ubiquinol is a reduced, more bioavailable form of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), a substance that is produced by the human body and is necessary for the basic functioning of cells.
When we are young and healthy, the predominant form of CoQ10 in nearly every cell in our bodies is ubiquinol. As we get older, the ability to produce and metabolize CoQ10 declines. We not only biosynthesize less CoQ10 (ubiquinone), but additionally, and more importantly, the ability to efficiently produce the electron-rich ubiquinol form of CoQ10 also declines. The result is less cellular energy, and diminished protection against oxidative stress that can result in cellular damage. CoQ10 levels tend to be low in patients with some chronic diseases such as heart conditions, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, and diabetes, and statin drugs may also lower CoQ10 levels.
Ubiquinol has been known to scientists, researchers, and clinicians since the discovery of CoQ10 in the late 1950s. Research on ubiquinol have appeared in scientific journals throughout the '70s, '80s and '90s, despite the fact that sufficient quantities of ubiquinol were not yet commercially available. These early studies provided the first evidence of the critical role ubiquinol plays in the production of cellular energy, and as a powerful antioxidant that provides protection against oxidative damage to DNA.
More recent studies indicate potential benefit for a wide range of health problems; recent research demonstrates that ubiquinol may benefit cardiovascular, neurodegenerative and mitochondrial disorders; diabetes; Down’s syndrome; statin-drug induced depletion; periodontal disease; and hypertension.
A review of the studies published to date consistently show that, in comparison to conventional CoQ10, supplementation with the ubiquinol form results in increased bioavailability, and higher cellular ubiquinol levels. Ubiquinol has only recently become commercially available in large quantities in supplement form. The recommended dosage is typically 50-100 mg daily, and should be taken with food.
Meet Our Expert
Robert J. Barry, PhD, is director of Scientific Affairs for Kaneka Nutrients. He earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from Boston College; his PhD in chemistry/biochemistry from the University of Maryland; completed postdoctoral research in biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology at Harvard Medical School; and was a staff researcher in neuropathology at Harvard Medical School. He is an active member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.