Heart health – who is the real hero?
CoQ10 supplementation has been studied for its many cardiovascular-related health benefits. Newer findings suggest, however, that supplementing with coenzyme Q10 in the ubiquinone form is primarily important because of what it is converted to in the body. Our bodies naturally convert ubiquinone into a more important form of CoQ10 called Ubiquinol. Studies are now showing that it is this Ubiquinol that is the more bioactive substance when it comes to overall health and cardiovascular maintenance.
What is Ubiquinol?
Ubiquinol is sometimes is referred to as the non-oxidized, active or pre-converted form of CoQ10. It is the primary form of coenzyme Q10 in human blood. In healthy individuals, Ubiquinol can account for 95% of total coenzyme levels; in aging or chronically diseased individuals this level can be lower than 25%.1,2
When we talk about coenzyme Q10 balance in the body, we want the Ubiquinol portion to be as high as possible. Conversely, a high ubiquinone level in the blood means that our bodies are either not effectively converting the ubiquinone into Ubiquinol or we are experiencing high oxidative stress, making it important to supplement with “body ready” Ubiquinol directly.
As we age, our total CoQ10 levels drop PLUS we are not as efficient in converting ubiquinone into Ubiquinol, leading to dramatically lower levels of Ubiquinol in the body.
For the past thirty plus years, supplementing with ubiquinone was the only way to raise total coenzyme Q10 levels. Ubiquinol itself has only become commercially available in the last few years as researchers at the Japanese company Kaneka became the first and only to successfully stabilize this important form of CoQ10. Ubiquinol is a very challenging material to produce in a stable form as it oxidizes easily, being the non-oxidized form of CoQ10.
Who should use Ubiquinol?
We produce less total coenzyme Q10 as we age. Further compounding the issue is that our bodies’ ability to convert ubiquinone into Ubiquinol also diminishes with age. This means that people in the baby-boom demographic (40 years of age+) and older are particularly at risk for having low Ubiquinol levels.
Several other groups have also been shown to be at risk for low levels of Ubiquinol, including Type 2 diabetes patients and anyone with cardiovascular, neurological or liver-related diseases.3 Further, those with cardiovascular issues taking statin drugs are particularly at risk for low Ubiquinol levels as these drugs block coenzyme Q10 production in addition to blocking cholesterol.
Young, healthy adults in their twenties and thirties who are still able to efficiently convert ubiquinone into Ubiquinol will be well-served by regular ubiquinone CoQ10 supplements.
Benefits of Ubiquinol
Ubiquinol is the most powerful fat-soluble antioxidant known. Antioxidants are beneficial to us as they neutralize the free radicals that damage our cellular components and put us at higher risk of a variety of diseases and premature aging. Free radicals are a byproduct of our internal energy production and are even stronger in pollution, radiation, etc.
Ubiquinol is multiple times more bioavailable than ubiquinone, but more importantly Ubiquinol has been shown in several studies to be more effective at raising Ubiquinol and total CoQ10 plasma levels.4 Ubiquinol does not need conversion in the body, making it more beneficial for maintaining internal energy production and cardiovascular health.
CoQ10 as ubiquinone has had a successful history of being used in combination with heart medications such as statins and beta blockers. The use of cholesterol-lowering statins are associated with a decrease in total CoQ10 levels, which is dangerous for those at risk for heart failure as it further weakens the energy-levels of the heart.5 Complementing statins with CoQ10 can help restore CoQ10 levels while the statins work to reduce LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels. Doctors, in many cases, are able to reduce the level or number of conventional medications when CoQ10 is introduced as a complementary therapy. Taking CoQ10 in the Ubiquinol form is even more effective for those on statins as it raises overall CoQ10 levels more effectively than ubiquinone [Caution: Only your health care practitioner should make such recommendations about combining CoQ10 with your other medications]
Ubiquinol dosage and what to expect from supplementation?
Based on clinical studies of Ubiquinol supplementation which have successfully raised Ubiquinol levels in the blood, individuals should take between 200 – 300 mg per day in the morning over the first 2-3 weeks. This high amount of Ubiquinol will help plateau the body’s Ubiquinol levels in the blood. After this period, a maintenance dosage of 100 mg per day can be taken.6
While only a blood test can determine increases in total coenzyme Q10 and Ubiquinol levels, over time you should notice an increase in sustained energy from taking Ubiquinol supplements once plasma levels of Ubiquinol have been brought up to optimal levels.7
At amounts of 150 – 300 mg a day, Ubiquinol helps to reduce the frequency of migraine headaches and associated nausea and vomiting when taken as a preventative.
Ubiquionol & ALA: A great combination
The unique Health First® formula Ubiquinol Supreme also contains a second antioxidant known as Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA). Like Ubiquinol, ALA also acts as an antioxidant and is involved in energy production at the cellular level. Also similar to Ubiquinol, ALA is often found in reduced or deficient levels in those with cardiovascular or diabetic issues.
While Ubiquinol is a fat-soluble antioxidant, ALA works on both water-soluble and fat-soluble free radicals, giving the Ubiquinol Supreme formula a wider effectiveness against more types of free radicals. Coenzyme Q10 and ALA work together to protect the lipids in all cell and mitochondrial membranes. ALA also helps to recycle and regenerate antioxidants like CoQ10 and assists in maintaining the proper ratio of ubiquinone to Ubiquinol in the mitochondria.
1. Bhagavan, Hemmi N., Raj K. Chopra. “Plasma coenzyme Q10 response to oral ingestion of coenzyme Q10 formulations.” Mitochondrion 7S (2007) S78-S88.
2. Lim, S.C., et al. Abstract of 2005 American Diabetes Association.
3. Barry, Robert.Ph.D. “The Power of KanekaQH™ (Ubiquinol): The Key to Energy Vitality and a Healthy Heart.” Health Point Press.2008. P. 26.
4. Langsjoen, Peter H., Alena M. Langsjoen. “Supplemental Ubiquinol in patients with advanced congestive heart failure.” Biofactors 32 (2008) 119-128.
5. Physician’s Desk Reference for Nutritional Supplements. 2001. P. 104.
6. Barry, Robert.Ph.D. “The Power of KanekaQH™ (Ubiquinol): The Key to Energy Vitality and a Healthy Heart.” Health Point Press. 2008. P. 27.
7. Ibid. P. 28.